Ask Uncle Mat – How to raise awareness of your startup on a budget

Meet Uncle Mat Braddy, the former CMO of startup-to-IPO brand Just Eat. Mat is now an entrepreneur building a new app, Rock Pamper Scissors, and is also a mentor to many London startups sharing his tips & experience.

In our new column Uncle Mat responds to readers’ startup marketing problems. If you have a dilemma send a brief email to mat.brady@thedrum.com. You can follow Mat on Twitter @matbraddy.

As a startup that has been going a few months, what is your advice to best raise awareness of my business with a low budget? Ben, London.

A common question and one that is easier to answer than to succeed with. We’re living at an unprecedented time of communication with a dazzling choice of distractions. Yet many businesses struggle to be engaging and end up just piling more rubbish onto the digital landfill with ineffective uninteresting work.

So, tip 1, Don’t be Meh.

I’m starting with this because it's a step most young businesses skip - develop an interesting story. It sounds trivial but it is crucial to getting traction. So many businesses just want to communicate ‘what’ it is they do and forget the truth - no-one gives a monkeys about your startup. Just telling folks what you do goes in one metaphoric-ear and out the other. You have set-up this business, it’s a ballsy brave move, why? What drove you and your co-founders? What change are you trying to effect in the world? What’s making you angry? Take time out to put together a manifesto as if you were campaigning. This passionate call to arms will help you articulate powerful messages that will get noticed.

Tip 2 - Earn it, don’t burn it.

Being a traditional digital marketing monkey focusing on PPC etc, it took me a year or so of my run at Just Eat to realise that our most powerful awareness tool was free - the restaurants. The stickers don’t tell much of a brand story but they free awareness they gave the brand was a powerful accelerator to everything else we did as they reminded the public everyday that we existed. I can’t recall seeing many Coke TV ad in the past week but I’ve walked past their logo hundreds of times in shops etc, subliminally reinforcing to my subconscious that brand choice. So what are you doing? What can you use for free in your model to ‘earn’ brand impacts? Have a whizzy new app for cleaners? Why not get them to leave a branded chocolate on client pillows? A nice surprise for a cheap price that could get your clients chatting to their friends more about your service. I’m always surprised that founders don’t notice the free opportunities under their noses - but then I did the same at Just Eat for a while ;-)

Final tip - Get off your ass.

Who doesn't love The Apprentice? Well maybe US voters. It’s a silly reality TV show but what I love about it is the format of giving the teams two days to get a task nailed. This then results in them at some point hitting the streets to drum up business in a concentrated burst. This is something we love doing at our new baby business, Rock Pamper Scissors. We had our sales manager out every morning for a month last winter stood by the side of busy commuter roads holding up protest boards. To kick off the app in London the team and I went out leafleting in Oxford Street wearing ‘hilarious’ wigs to get noticed. Low cost and these activities are time consuming. But they do also have a great effect on internal team culture - we are in this together, let's get out there and make it work.

Uncle Mat will be answering questions from star-ups each fortnight. Email him on mat.braddy@thedrum.com if you or your business need his expert advice.

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