Melanie Marten is the founder of PRontheGO and took some time out to talk with The Industry Leaders about free marketing tactics that any entrepreneur can use to grow their business this year.
What's your industry?
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
Thanks for the opportunity to be with you today. I have dedicated my career to supporting the growth and success of purpose-driven individuals and brands through authentic public relations.
I founded The Coup Public Relations in 2010 as a boutique agency with offices in Berlin and Athens. We run global campaigns for our clients, who range from start-ups to corporations and thought leaders.
After successfully running The Coup Public Relations for several years, I wanted to make public relations accessible to everyone in the creative industries, regardless of their marketing budget. This led me to create PRontheGO, a free online service portal that delivers actionable PR tips and inspiration in a do-it-yourself format. PRontheGO's goal is to empower creative founders to take PR into their own hands and spread the word about their ideas, creations and innovations. PRontheGO provides tips and links to get press coverage and hosts a global network of proven PR experts who provide valuable insight into the power of PR for the Creator Economy.
What kind of work does your daily role involve?
In my role as a consultant and publicist in my public relations agency, I guide founders and CEOs in developing effective communication strategies for their brands. This involves identifying unique niches to target, crafting launch plans, and devising thought leadership strategies to make an impact in the market. Once we have a solid plan in place, I execute it with precision.
With PRontheGO, I distill these complex PR activities into digestible snippets, making them accessible to everyone. My focus is on finding powerful messages and creating opportunities for businesses to connect with their intended audience. This includes sharing opportunities to submit work to journalists for publication, or to present a brand in a magazine or your business in a podcast.
My daily work is centered on discovering the right message for my clients and helping them communicate it effectively. As the founder of PRontheGO, I oversee the platform's development and manage the project to ensure it provides valuable resources for creators.
What gets you excited about your industry?
As someone who works in the field of Public Relations, what excites me the most about my industry is the ability to shape the future. Unlike other industries, where you are often focused on established keywords or products, in PR we are constantly looking ahead, identifying new trends and opportunities based on consumer sentiment and industry needs. This means that we get to play a critical role in positioning brands, products, and thought leaders on emerging topics and keywords, helping to drive innovation and change.
One of the other things that I find particularly exciting about working in PR is the opportunity to work with future-driven entrepreneurs and innovative products. These are the types of people and products that are often pushing the boundaries of what is possible, and it is truly inspiring to be able to work with them and help bring their ideas to the forefront.
Ultimately, what people should know about the PR industry is that it plays a critical role in the success of great products and services. Even the best products and services won't make it on the market if not enough people know about them or understand their value. This is where PR comes in, helping to build brand awareness, generate interest and buzz, and ultimately drive growth and success. It's an exciting and dynamic field, and I feel privileged to be a part of it.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you on your journey in business?
In the world of business, every client brings a new opportunity to learn and grow. Working closely with entrepreneurs, I not only gain knowledge about their industry and product, but also soak up the energy and passion that they bring to the table. This has been a driving force behind my own entrepreneurial ventures with The Coup and PRontheGO.
One of the most impactful pieces of advice I've received was from a CEO of a global enterprise who I started working with when I was in my mid-twenties. He taught me the importance of listening - not just hearing, but truly listening to what people are saying. At the time, I was eager and driven, but lacked the patience to slow down and truly understand his perspective. Over time, I learned the value of honing my listening skills and truly hearing what others are saying.
This advice has not only helped me in my own personal and professional growth, but I believe it can help others too. In a world where everyone is eager to speak their mind and be heard, taking the time to listen and understand can be a powerful tool for building relationships and achieving success.
What's been the hardest part about the path you've taken and how would you advise someone facing a similar situation to overcome it?
When I was a teenager, I quickly realized that I wasn't cut out for following instructions or taking leads and started creating business for myself. Without any family members in the business world to offer guidance, and with zero funds, I had to figure it all out on my own and keep the money flowing at all times. In my twenties, I hustled hard and found success in PR, but that alone wasn't enough. I had to learn the less glamorous parts of running a business, such as admin, taxes, and project management, all while perfecting my sales skills. I worked through illness, and it felt like there was always something new to learn or improve on. But I realized that to control everything for the long-term, I had to understand and learn it all myself.
To make matters worse, there were people in my network who were quick to offer unsolicited advice, suggesting I should just hire someone for specific jobs or "just give it to someone else". But I knew that if I wanted long-term success, I needed to understand and learn every aspect of my business myself, no matter how daunting it seemed at first. Even today, I still face bureaucratic challenges and am constantly working on improving my project management skills (which I'll admit, I'm not the biggest fan of). But I keep pushing forward, remembering the wise words of a friend who is highly successful in tech: "If it was easy, everyone would do it."
At the end of the day, I believe it's the drive that comes with being an entrepreneur that keeps us going through the tough times. Sure, it may have been difficult at times, but overcoming those challenges and achieving success on my own terms has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My advice to anyone facing similar situations is to keep pushing forward, focus on personal development, and understand that success doesn't come without hard work and perseverance.
In the current climate especially, many CEOs are looking for ways to cut costs, with marketing budgets usually one of the budgets to be cut. Is that wise?
Cutting marketing budgets in tough economic times is like taking the foot off the gas pedal when driving uphill - it's a surefire way to slow down and get left behind. Successful CEOs understand that building a sustainable business requires investment in growth, not just short-term profit margins. In fact, savvy entrepreneurs invest countercyclically and future-forward, spending on marketing when others are cutting back to gain a competitive advantage.
Think about it - when economic turmoil strikes, companies that invest in marketing and PR gain an edge over their competitors and build stronger relationships with customers. It's all about navigating the choppy waters of a constantly changing economic landscape and staying ahead of the curve.
And let's not forget that even in tough times, there is always opportunity. Look at the rise of home gyms and podcasts during the COVID lockdowns - companies that stayed nimble and adapted their strategies thrived while others struggled. Cutting marketing budgets is a short-sighted approach that could end up costing a company more in the long run. So my answer is a resounding no - cutting marketing budgets is not wise for any CEO who wants to build a successful, sustainable business.
For people thinking of starting businesses in 2023, would you say it's still possible to build a big business with little or no marketing budget?
Absolutely! In the age of advanced technologies, the possibilities for entrepreneurship are endless. Building "big business" for yourself with little to no marketing budget always requires resourcefulness and creativity, but just looking at the latest AI releases you will have a lot of that at your fingertips. By staying focused on serving the needs of your target audience, you can create meaningful collaborations and marketing opportunities that drive growth. It takes a strategic approach and consistent effort to make meaningful connections with potential customers and build a loyal following. Remember, success in business is about drive and determination, and with a positive, growth-oriented, and solution-focused perspective mindset and approach, the sky's the limit.
Can you share one or two of your favorite free marketing strategies that a business owner in your industry can use.
In today's world, authenticity is the key to success in establishing business, and every entrepreneur should keep that in mind for all of their communication efforts.
For consultants, one of the best free marketing strategies is to be the voice of optimism in your industry. People are looking for guidance and positivity, especially during challenging times. As a consultant, your clients are coming to you for your expertise, and part of that expertise is being able to help them see the light at the end of the tunnel. You have a unique opportunity to share your expertise and inspire people with your positive outlook, build a strong personal brand and create a loyal following.
For creators, a "build-in-public" marketing strategy is one of the most effective and authentic ways to promote your business. This approach involves sharing your work, your process, and your struggles with your audience. By being open and transparent about your journey, you can create a deeper connection with your audience and build trust with them. You can share your progress on social media, blog about your work, or create a YouTube series about your creative process. By being authentic and transparent, you can attract a dedicated fanbase who will support you and spread the word about your business.