Don't Look in a Cookbook to Launch a Start-Up
I had an immediate reaction to this question: the launch of every company must be based on the specific assets of the company -- not the rules in a cookbook for launches. What does this mean for such a company in the alternative energy space? Like any other significant start up, the ultimate questions that need to be answered for the launch are:
- What are the key sustaining (unique) assets of the company?
- What is the long term communications goal of the company?
- What is the right communications architecture for the company to achieve this goal?
- How should the company be positioned?
- What is the right starting point, based on today's perceptual environment?
What might this mean for my friend's company?
- There's a lot of hype around alternative energy today. While this could be a near-term tactical asset, being engulfed by this hype is not the end in itself (as a matter of fact, we would contend that it's critical not to be too tightly coupled to it: "what goes up must come down").
- A lot of companies in this sector are based on significant scientific breakthroughs. Most likely, a long-term sustainable position will be based on fundamental acceptance by the scientists who may often be called upon (at least in the early days) to vet the breakthrough.
- As in any new market, the odds are good that the company's business model will evolve over time. This means that the long-term communications architecture should be based on a foundation which will survive changes in the business model. That is, why is this company significant, regardless of its current revenue sources.
- We believe that communications is best used to create leadership in the market. What are the activities that will enable this company to lead and define its market -- rather than to follow it?
- All of the tactics of communications should be used to reinforce this leadership. If any "events" go by and they are not leveraged, that's ashame.
- This way of looking at communications can sometimes demand forward-thinking on the part of the management of the company. For example, eschewing short-term hype in favor of long-term leadership can be a hard choice to make.
- The company management needs to commit to helping the entire company and its stakeholders to understand the communications goals and how to support them best.