Creating Profitable Relationships through PR, Marketing and High-Value Introductions. Entertainment and technology industry professional with extensive executive, managerial, entrepreneurial and hands-on success. Creative problem solver, passionate about creating great products, building strong brands and delighting customers. Connects the right pieces and partners, making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Native fluency in English and German with a unique blend of North American and European cultural awareness. http://uberstrategist.link/whatwedo
Quick stream of consciousness note to help out:
As a marketing "generalist" with strong PR leanings - most of my clients come to me for PR but then find additional (greater?) value me for marketing advice, social media (which really, along with influencer partnerships is becoming part of PR), tradeshow support, strategic partnership brokering, etc. - I, of course, am biased. But I've also hired (and fired) many PR agencies in my career before I joined them.
Starting out, I would go with a part-time consultant. Find someone that is truly passionate about your field and has experience with placing stories in a similar line of business as yours. I personally prefer a small boutique agency or even individual that offers more than just PR services. (Bonus - if you find someone really great, you might later be able to bring them in-house or hire them exclusively.)
Make sure you check out their social media, some of their past press releases and - most importantly - stories they have placed on behalf of other clients. If the tone, positioning or feel isn't somewhat aligned with yours - you will likely not mesh and achieve poor results. i.e., too boring, too formal, to irreverent, too immature, too old school, no apparent recent experience with your core audience or the outlets that write/cover your industry.
Get some references as well and contact past or present clients (with verifiable coverage out there).
I'd say reasonable budgets, based on U.S. prices, should be doable starting from $4-7.5K a month, maybe even a bit less if you're a strong negotiator.
You could also shoot for a base retainer and a contingent portion where you set certain goals each month and if those are met, there's an additional kicker to the compensation. That will help you find the more entrepreneurial (and hungry) agencies. i.e. x articles published with outlets reaching > x subscribers or viewers, obtain x mentions from x social media influencers with x or more followers, etc. Spitballing, you'll need to define your own, but involve the consultant in the process and ask them what they think is reasonable, then have them put some skin in the game with an upside if they do great.
Keep in mind, though, that external PR folks will not be able to fabricate newsworthy stories for you. They can help you in the process and use their established contacts to open the doors, but they will not know your product well enough without your close collaboration. Clients that expect the PR folks to sort of live on an island (no pun intended) and generate press will be very disappointed.
Chemistry is also quite important. I would say within three months, perhaps even a bit less, you should be able to tell if you are happy with the results. Talk about metrics, talk about what your realistic expectation should be so you can decide if that's a better investment than a similar marketing spend. But unless it's a complete failure, be a little patient, PR is not direct marketing.
Hope that's helpful and best of luck. Looks like you're off to a great start! I personally really only handle video games, technology, and eSports, but if you need help, I can probably refer you to a couple of good people here in the U.S. that may be a good fit.
If you have peers in the industry, also ask for recommendations to PR folks they love. Stay away from big agencies unless you have deep pockets and avoid press release mills where they will send out your press releases for a flat fee. That's not PR, that's annoying direct mail aimed at editors, a good way to burn bridges before you even get out of the PR gate.
I direct most of my prospective clients that want to have initial calls to Clarity via the VIP code to give them a free consult, but also to build some traction and positive referrals. It reinforces that there is a cost to the time spent, but you are generous enough to give it for free up to a point, and encourages them to provide feedback on the advice offered.
I think your acquisition plan, especially since it's paid, is quite aggressive without a significant investment unless (and perhaps even if) you are solving a prevalent, high-pain-point problem in a way that is easy to understand and difficult to mimic or for which there is no similar or alternate solution.
Most of the advice I would offer has already been stated and, without knowing specifics, it's hard to pinpoint a solution. General advice rarely works for all cases.
I agree that great content marketing is probably part of the mix, although that's rarely a quick path to growth. You may also find inspiration in Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising by Ryan Holiday a useful quick read on how services like Uber, Box, AirBnB and others quickly entered a new market and achieved uncommon customer acquisition success.
I agree with the previous two responses if you are talking about a commercial transaction. There has to be a financial upside or value add to the larger company derived by promoting your product that outweighs their time investment, potential risk of affiliation with your brand (such as if you can't deliver or something goes bad, and just plain level of effort. If there is a lot for them to do for little return, it's not of interest. If you are looking for an in-kind type of product promotion, always seek to give before you mention your ask. Offer something of value only to your potential partner without seeking anything in return. That's often a great first step to open doors.
Almost any business can be, but those with limited start up and inventory costs obviously fare better, faster, but sometimes are more difficult to scale as others have suggested. I'd suggest reading Profit First by Mike Michalowicz (his blog and source for the book is at http://www.mikemichalowicz.com/money-strategies/profit-first-money-strategies/) for a way to switch thinking to achieve profitability and positive cash flow first in almost any business.
You may find this article helpful: http://www.smarthustle.com/article/how-5-smart-hustlers-found-money-for-their-startups/
In short, one entrepreneur, who was looking to borrow money, founded TrustLeaf as he was encountering exactly this question and found no good solution. His new company now helps others gracefully, legally and safely borrow money from friends and family.
Found this recent article talking about 5 different startups and how they raised capital an interesting perspective. One even stumbled into a new business model to help others raise capital. http://www.smarthustle.com/article/how-5-smart-hustlers-found-money-for-their-startups/
I personally started with an eLance membership and took on my first two clients there, while I built up the rest of my collateral to start generating outreach to my professional network and am now mostly generating word of mouth referrals. The nice thing about eLance is that you can take on work that you are skilled at and that helps pay the bills, but isn't directly in line with what your core business does, thus avoiding looking like you are all things to all people and diluting your "what exactly does your company do" messaging.
Hope that helps. Good luck!
I'm personally a bit reluctant to look at my personal credit cards as funding source, especially for a highly competitive venture like a video game.
I personally had a hard time finding the game on the iTunes store. There's next to no press coverage or google hits for it. That's the lowest hanging fruit to generate awareness and interest.
You have 5 reviews with a respectable 3 1/2 (out of 5) stars. One strategy I've used successfully is to create a champion team or early adopters (which is difficult once the game is already launched) and asked them to review the game honestly for either a free copy (if paid) or fully unlocked (if F2P) as yours. You're not telling them you require positive reviews, but most people that take you up on this will be positive. The game, of course, has to stand on its own.
Once you generate both positive press interest and coverage (write every major blogger that covers mobile games and soft sell them on taking a look at the game or hire a PR freelancer that can do this for you) and positive reviews (which may also move you onto "what's hot" and "editor's choice" iTunes Store categories) you have a much better pitch for potential investors.
However, first question they will ask is how the game is selling or, in this case, how the monetization is going since it's F2P. Hope that helps.
This may also be of help: http://www.slideshare.net/tomaso67/wp-mobile-games-marketing
Agree with both prior comments. If the product or service is essentially the website and you cannot develop it to showcase it, then the cart is leading (or not) the horse. However, to try and be pragmatic, I would say a crowd funding or hitting the expanded friends and family circle may be the best options. $3K doesn't seem unsurmountable, but if you were asking me to invest, I would wonder why 2/3 of the investment thus far were not spent on the 1/3 that appears most important to show proof of concept and generate revenue/gain additional investment interest. Maybe there's also a way to cut back some of the features and focus on what's most important, building the rest, once the fundamentals are working and have attracted an audience. I like the PR idea, but without something to show, you better be one heck of a convincing story teller. For borrowing from known "investors" www.trustleaf.com may be of help.