The simple way to maximise your company messaging.

Trying to build a business without the ability to explain what you do quickly and clearly is like banging your head against a brick wall. How can you attract that investor, convert that customer, engage that partner if they don’t really understand what you have to offer? And if your business happens to involve complex technology in an emerging market (like the cleantech industry), effective company messaging is absolutely fundamental.

If you’re setting priorities for 2017, I strongly recommend you start with honestly asking yourself if your messaging is good enough. After all, it’s the foundation for everything else. Your new website, logo, PR campaign can wait. In fact, none of them will work properly if you don’t get your messaging right first. Honestly, this might be the least tangible but most important service we offer at Life Size Media.

Life size media workshops with econnect cars

But what if you’re very early stage, fully aware that your messaging isn’t working and struggling to work out how you can improve it without the help of an agency?

The good news is that there are steps you can take yourself to improve your company messaging. Block out a day, get your key people together, be prepared to challenge yourself and give this exercise a try.

Try our key messaging exercise

Start by brainstorming a list of all the things you want people to understand about your business. Keep each point short and succinct, just a few words. Don’t worry about language at this stage, just focus on content. It might start something like this:

  • Market leader in France
  • 90% efficient
  • Backed by 10 years of research
  • And so on…

Then pick a key stakeholder. It could be a dream client, a target investor or a key influencer in government. Imagine three scenarios in which you manage to get some time with this person.

[table type=”standard_minimal”]
[trow]
[tcol]Elevator tech shaft[/tcol]
[tcol]1. You bump into them in a lift. You have one minute to pitch your business[/tcol]
[/trow]
[trow]
[tcol]black taxi in the city[/tcol]
[tcol]2. You’ve got their attention and they invite you to jump in a taxi with them on the way to their next meeting. You have another ten minutes to explain your business in more detail.[/tcol]
[/trow]
[trow]
[tcol]skyline dining [/tcol]
[tcol]3. They like what they hear in the taxi and suggest you have dinner that evening. You have a whole hour to really tell the story of your business.[/tcol]
[/trow]
[/table]

Get a big sheet of paper or a white board and divide it into three columns (1 min, 10 min, 1 hour). Your three most important messages go in the first column (yes, only three), then choose another three messages for the taxi ride. The rest will have to wait for dinner.

Using your company messaging

The final stage is to use those sets of messages as a guide for writing your messaging out in full prose. Each of the time scenarios we have used in this exercise will relate to a section of your company messaging.

[table type=”standard_minimal”]
[trow]
[tcol]

The lift > one line, for example:

  • The headline message on your website
  • Description on your twitter account
  • Introduction at an event

[/tcol]
[tcol]life elevator icon.[/tcol]
[/trow]
[trow]
[tcol]screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-13-28-16[/tcol]
[tcol]

The taxi > one paragraph, for example:

  • The ‘About us’ content on your website
  • Your profile on LinkedIn
  • The boiler plate text in your press release

[/tcol]
[/trow]
[trow]
[tcol]

The dinner > one page, for example:

  • The full company description on your website
  • The company biography at events
  • The introduction of your company brochure

[/tcol]
[tcol]Diner icon workshops[/tcol]
[/trow]
[/table]

If you found this exercise useful, this is one of several exercises that we work through with our clients at Life Size Media workshops.

The purpose of these workshops is to identify the foundations for your unique brand and generate guidelines that you can use as you build your identity. We cover:

  1. Understanding your business
  2. Defining the personality of your brand
  3. Identifying your key messages and how to use them
  4. Mapping how and where people experience your brand
  5. Taking this work forward

To book a workshop with Life Size Media (£1,100 + VAT), call us on +44 (0)203 637 5096, or email us at mail@lifesizemedia.com.

 

What exactly is a brand (and do I really need one)?

People are often quite confused about ‘brand’. This is particularly true in a business to business, tech-heavy sector like cleantech.

Cleantech companies often think that their brand and logo are the same thing. Or that it’s all about the visuals and design. Or that it’s something you think about when you get more established. Frankly, many cleantech companies just don’t think about branding at all.

I believe that good branding is fundamental to a company’s success. If you’re confused about what exactly a brand is or why it’s important, here are three things to consider:

1. Your brand should inform everything you do

The first thing to say is that your brand is much more than just your logo or visual identity. Your brand is the whole experience someone has of your company. Of course it’s about how you look, but it’s also the story you tell, how you choose to communicate, the principles you’re built on and (most importantly) the vision you’re working towards. Your brand should inform everything you do, not just your communications and it needs to start from day one.

2. Your brand is your unique personality

Your brand is who you are as a company, it’s why you exist and why people should care. It’s an opportunity to set out a clear and compelling mission and mode of operation for your business. Perhaps that still feels a bit fluffy so let’s put it another way… Your brand is why people buy from you (or invest in you, or partner with you). People are driven by emotions (even hard core venture capitalists), they want to be part of an experience, a journey, a story. You create that through your brand.

3. Your brand is why people should care

The author Simon Sinek famously said: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. The most successful companies in the world today (Apple, Addidas, Airbnb to name just a few) understand the power of why. They offer powerful, emotional messages that gives customers something to believe in. In the cleantech industry, we are almost always focused on WHAT we’ve invented and HOW it works. We forget about the most important part. Take the time to find your why and make that central to your brand.

Establish your brand with our new workshops

 

Brand and comms workshops

Life Size Media offers in-depth workshops designed to help cleantech startups establish their brand.

The purpose of these workshops is to identify the foundations for your unique brand and generate guidelines that you can use as you build your identity. We will cover:

  1. Understanding your business
  2. Defining the personality of your brand
  3. Identifying your key messages and how to use them
  4. Mapping how and where people experience your brand
  5. Taking this work forward

To book a workshop with Life Size Media (£1,100 + VAT), call us on +44 (0)203 637 5096, or email us at mail@lifesizemedia.com.

 

Social media is the new business card at #CLP2016

The Climate Launchpad 2016 finals

This month we went along to the Climate Launchpad finals in Tallinn, Estonia to check out the ideas and inspirations of young cleantech start-ups from across Europe. The competition saw companies from 30 different countries entering and pitching against one another for cash prizes. We were there to absorb and observe and gauge the feel of the Estonian cleantech market, home to one of our top clients, Skeleton Technologies.

The vibe was young, fresh, smart and fun. There was a real energy and not just because most of the people attending were under 30. It was also a credit to Climate Launchpad (shout out to organisers Climate KIC and Startup Estonia) for tapping into and facilitating that energy by really focusing on digital marketing and social media. The event spoke the language of the people attending. It was bold and accessible and it made you want to engage and be part of the fun.

#CLP2016 social highlights

The Selfie Stop

A very clever idea. If people are taking selfies, people are posting selfies. The #s and @s of Climate Launchpad were plastered everywhere, the documentation, the walls, the screens – so you were able to grab and post a selfie in a matter of moments.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BLSyzbGAfm2/?taken-by=lifesizemedia

The rock ‘n’ roll mainstage

The main stage looked like a TED talk or a rock band could start any minute and it wouldn’t have been out of place at a big Silicon Valley product launch. Any time the stage was not in use the two large screens streamed live tweets from the event, bringing the physical and virtual into the same space and giving them equal importance.

Social media is the new business card

Social media allows you to open a dialogue with anyone, regardless of whether you bump into them or not. At the same time as engaging with your existing audience you’re also reaching a wider audience. And what you’ll find is that if you do engage with people on social at an event, it is so much easier to engage in real life because they already have an idea, a hint of you and what you do. The first step in the process of getting to each other is done before you even set eyes on the actual person.

So why wouldn’t it be the focus of your event? But in our experience it’s often overlooked or an afterthought, especially in the corporate sector. Social media doesn’t wait for you to be ready, it’s a constant moving wave of energy and the only way to benefit is to jump in and cause a splash.

Digital marketing doesn’t replace physical networking

I’m not saying that the virtual world of making connections should replace physical networking. Most of our client work still comes from making face-to-face connections. But I can see all of this changing and not because digital networking will take over physical but because there is becoming less of a distinction between the two.

Companies that are bringing social media into their events are going to succeed because social media and digital marketing is a very real part of the networking process.

Our final thought on the #CLP2016 finals

Workshops for start-ups

We’ve had lots of interest from early stage startups that want to work with us but aren’t yet able to afford a full retainer or bigger project work. So we are launching a new programme of workshops for start-ups focused on creating a brand and building an audience. If you’d like to organise a workshop with us or find out more, then get in touch with Jules.

Gallery photo credit: Climate Launchpad.

 

 

Is London still a hotspot for cleantech investment post Brexit?

Ahead of Ecosummit London next month, we talked to Founder and CEO Jan Michael Hess about whether the prospect of Brexit will effect cleantech investment in the capital.

London might be a capital investment mecca now but could Brexit mark the end for Ecosummit in London?

“Right now all things are still imaginable but my current thinking is that we keep doing events in London irrespective of Brexit.

There are still too many important people here, you still have a lot of investors here and a lot of UK start-ups, utilities and corporates and they will continue to be here even if Brexit happens.

Also because of the cultural connections, London has always been the bridge to the US. Americans are generally more comfortable dealing with London ahead of continental Europe and we know American companies that want to develop strategies into Europe go through London.

It’s important for us to have a long-term strategy and we don’t believe in going in and out. A start-up company should take on the target market and decide to stay, as long as the competition doesn’t kill you!”

Has the Brexit vote already made it harder for prospective cleantech companies in the UK?

“After the vote a lot of the discussion has been mainly speculation and it’s true that is not really creating a positive business atmosphere for start-ups.

Some banks have discussed leaving London but in the start-up environment the banks don’t play such an important role. Perhaps for those that move into an IPO opportunity sure, but those are very few. You still need to travel around and meet the investors and, as of today, there’s still a critical mass of investors based here in London.

It’s also important to highlight that all the London-based investors are not just investing in Europe but many are investing capital around the world because London-based investors have that worldwide perspective. It makes it easy to get that global perspective when you come to London, we don’t have that same approach in Berlin.” 

How is the London event shaping up?

“We now have a number of start-ups from across Europe coming to London, wanting to pitch and find partners for the UK market and to find connections. So far we have around 40 pitches, from Germany, France, Sweden, Portugal, Finland, Estonia and Israel, so it looks like these start-ups still believe in the UK too.

We’ve done the event three times in The Crystal building at the Royal Victoria Docks, the building of Siemens. It’s been great but this year we’ve decided to go more towards the city centre for the event to be more accessible for the important people in the city.

For Ecosummit, London is the place to be and will remain the place to be.”

Jan meets Life Size Media in Jago London
Jan pops into Second Home for lunch with the Life Size Media team.

How to get involved

Ecosummit is Europe’s premier event connecting promising cleantech start-ups and investors armed with capital to make their business dreams a reality.

Ecosummit London happens on 11 October 2016 at CodeNode, Skills Matter, 10 South Place, London, EC2M 7EB, GB in the heart of Tech City.

Get your tickets now.

 

Uber is catching on but London already has an all-electric cab company

This week, taxi app giant Uber announced that it would be trialing 20 all-electric Nissan leaf cars in its fleet. Naturally, the firm highlights the improvement in air quality and reduction in CO2 emissions this is likely to achieve.

The more electric vehicles in the capital the merrier. But it’s frustrating to see so much press coverage of a 3-month trial when London already has an all-electric taxi firm. And you can book it through an app.

Introducing eConnect cars

eConnect cars was founded in 2014 by an ex-oil and gas man who wanted to build a “business that mattered”. The company has its own network of rapid chargers and operates a fleet of Nissan Leafs and (if you’re feeling flashy) Tesla Model S cars that are available on-demand via the Karhoo app.

Life Size Media has used eConnect cars for a couple of years now, and genuinely found them to be excellent. Whether as a business or an individual, if you care about sustainable transport you should give them a call.

To be clear, we don’t work for eConnect cars. They aren’t paying us to say this, they’re not offering us free taxi rides. What they are doing is putting the electrification of transport at the heart of their business model. I believe they deserve more credit for it.

And it’s not just the environmental angle that’s important. Uber’s battle with drivers has raised a lot of questions about the social conscience of the firm. In contrast, I can honestly say that every eConnect driver I’ve chatted with has had nothing but good things to say about their employer.

It’s the nature of the beast that large corporates dominate the headlines with their sustainability efforts, while the cleantech startups that enable and drive that change often go under the radar. But that’s the frustration that gets Life Size Media up in the morning!

We need to champion pioneering, sustainable businesses whenever we can. So next time you hail a cab, why not give eConnect cars a try?

Can we electrify London transport?

If you’re interested in the rise of electric vehicles in the capital and the story behind eConnect cars, take a look at our interview with the company’s Founder Alistair Clarke.

Advice on content strategy for cleantech startups

Most cleantech companies know there’s value in producing engaging content around their company or technology. But what’s the right strategy when your real focus is filing patents, raising investment and developing your technology? Here are our thoughts on content strategy for cleantech startups, drawing on our experience spending the last six years delivering for some of the most exciting companies in the sector.

First of all, can we all please agree…

It’s never ok to produce bad quality content

It’s ok that you’re not producing Oscar winning films and your news stories aren’t getting more hits that the Daily Mail. But that does not mean it’s ok to produce embarrassingly bad content.

When people see your content, they make judgements about your company and your potential. Poor quality content makes them think: ‘they’re small; they don’t have the resources; they don’t know what they’re doing; they’re not worth paying attention to.’

So what should you do?

1. Think about your message

WHAT are you trying to say? Your message and your communication challenges are going to define the right content strategy for your business.

Maybe your technology is hard to understand. An accessible and attractive diagram might be the most useful piece of content for you right now.

Maybe your ‘story’ – the heart and soul of what you’re all about – matters most. Film is a great way to capture that.

Maybe your challenge is building trust with customers and gaining recognition as a new player in an existing market. You need a sustained PR strategy.

Company messaging

2. Think about your audience 

Once you understand WHAT you need to say, you need to think about WHO you need to say it to. What will be most effective for that audience?

Customers may want to see film case studies. Investors may be looking for sustained PR coverage. Potential partners might need a technology brochure.

Thinking about your audience also helps define the tone of your content. Are you speaking to a well defined market? Then you just need to focus on how your solution is different. But if your technology is so new that no one understands it, then you need to create content that explains it and why it’s an important breakthrough.

3. Increase the value of the content you invest in

When your time and money is limited, you can’t do everything you would like to. So it’s important to draw the maximum value from any content you do create.

Maybe there’s a clever way to appeal to more than one audience in one piece of content. A case study film can be made to appeal to potential new customers while also demonstrating to investors that your technology is well received.

If you’ve produced a beautiful diagram to show how your technology is used, look for as many opportunities as you can to use it. Include it in your brochure, website, presentations, and sales sheets.

Content Strategy Examples

4. Build a content distribution strategy

So you’ve made a great film (it was one of ours right?). It sums up your technology, it shows great feedback from customers and it includes all of your key messages. Time to sit back and watch the order roll in? No. Time to distribute.

Investing in good content is the first step. But don’t waste that investment by doing nothing with it. You need to think about who is going to consume it. Where will they see it? What will they do once they’ve watched or read it? How does it link back to you? How do you convert that interest?

5. Update your content as you grow

Hopefully you’re ready to put this advice into action. Go for it. Maybe we’re telling you stuff you already know. Good for you. Either way, a final word of warning. Your content needs to develop alongside your company.

The way your content represents you is how the market will perceive you. Even if you’ve long since moved into a much bigger facility, have 20 members of staff and have branched out into multiple new applications.

The faster your company grows, the more you need to focus on creating and evolving your content. It takes work but let’s face it, it’s a nice problem to have!

Life Size Media at Ecosummit Amsterdam

Our tips on content strategy for cleantech startups were first shared at Ecosummit Amsterdam by our Head of Films, Emma Murphy. If you want more, you can watch her full presentation on our YouTube channel.

The three principles of communication: A guide for cleantech companies

Communication is fundamental to the success of any company. This is even more important in a sector as complex and misunderstood as cleantech. If you’re so focused on your next technology milestone or finance round that words like storytelling, brand and purpose go over your head, it’s time to start taking communication seriously. Our three principles of communication guide gives you a really good place to start.

The three principles of communication

The principles are based on our experience of working with cleantech companies across a wide range of technology sectors, markets, countries and stages of development. The guide is designed to get you thinking in the right way about the role that good communications and branding will play in your success.

Learn about:

  • The importance of communication
  • The role of branding
  • Why people need something to believe in.

We use these principles in every one of our campaigns and have talked about them at several events and conferences. We hope that you find them useful and if you want to discuss putting them into practice, then you know where to find us.

Download our free guide

Just pop in your details and you can download our guide right away and get a copy sent straight to your inbox.
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