Hark: Launching a Startup
In 2016, the Halston Marketing team was brought in to manage all facets of marketing and branding for an IoT start-up in Leeds named Hark.
Hark offer an environmental monitoring system. This allows clients to monitor, store, and analyse their business-critical environmental data. The service is perfect for companies who need to accurately record fluctuations and how they affect their operations.
It is important to us to align B2B marketing with business goals when dealing with start-ups and scale-ups. Hark came to us with an innovative, cutting-edge product with a goal in mind: to grow. So, we developed a generic blueprint of objectives that would guide the way we marketed a growing tech company with a bright future.
Create awareness about the company and its technology within niche markets
Work on the brand, target audiences and messaging
Create educational long-form content to use for inbound marketing and outbound sales
Position the brand and team as experts in their field and build trust to open the door to bigger clients
But, in order for our marketers to conceptualise a strategy, we needed to dig deep into their offering and analyse the industry with a microscope to find a unique way to follow a road less-travelled.
From here, the Halston Marketing team got to grips with the Hark platform in-and-out and studied the B2B tech industry intricately.
Our proposed strategy would help Hark to see growth in ways they had not foreseen. Our suggested marketing work would involve a brand rework, site rejuvenation, consistent and quality content, social media management and a key PR plan.
The Good Stuff
Initial branding work included reworking Hark’s values, tone of voice, motivations, straplines, verticals, target audiences and selling points. No longer solely focused on pharmaceutical industries, the proposed B2B marketing strategy was directed at facilities management companies, life sciences and placetech.
Onsite, we optimised landing pages and refined copy. The Hark brand demanded a level of exposure that was suited to a consistent, quality content plan that flowed through different mediums from literary site content to images and video, so we also implemented a blog area titled Hark Labs and a video series titled Hark Studios. Our weekly content included techy, academic and forward-thinking news, innovations and discussions.
On Hark’s social media channels, we developed and initiated a consistent tone of voice for site customers—specialist, cutting-edge, authoritative, honest, techy and academic. Through this authoritative yet fun voice, we posted content to profiles on Twitter and LinkedIn. In addition, to promote brand awareness, we implemented pay-per-click campaigns and utilised social advertising.
Finally, we formulated a PR strategy that would engage clients, boost the Hark brand and solidify loyalty while gathering the attention of investors. We sent the team to networking events such as Intelligent Health Al, Tech Nation, PlaceTech and put them forward for awards and recognition (such as the UK Tech Awards) to attract the attention of tech-industry leaders and niche audiences. We also encouraged the team to sit at roundtables and conferences to put their innovation at the forefront of conversation.
Thanks to our strategy, all branding (physical and online), social assets and content (visual or literary) has a cohesive aesthetic taken from the website design.
Our targeted campaigns and monthly content garnered interest for Hark’s social media channels while increasing site traffic and Google SERP positions. Further intrigue came from companies such as Bruntwood, who were interested in potential collaborative content. This resulted in a four-part series targeting facilities management companies. Our Hark content also provided a structure to the marketing strategy that started to bleed into sales and business strategies. This was invaluable to the team, who began to use it as brand literature. But this is not all.
Putting Hark in the spotlight attracted attention from top investors in the region, putting them in a strong position for growth. Interviews with interested parties have revealed that the crux of their decision-making when searching for start-ups is around the exposure the brand has in the market.
Other strategic PR appearances garnered recognition from the digital awards scene and the team gained their first Leeds Digital Festival Award— for Tech Innovation of the Year—in 2018, while being shortlisted for Three UK Business Tech Awards 2018, The Computing Technology Product Award for IoT Vendor of the Year and The Computing Cloud Excellence Award for Cloud IoT Product of the Year.
These niche PR placements also helped to bring thousands of additional page views outside of content, news attention and attract industry demand. Following publications in Business Cloud and other local publications, the Hark team were invited to speak at high-level conferences such as the PlaceTech trend talks, the IoT Showcase, Business Cloud’s 35 under 35 Tech Entrepreneurs panel and more. Hark’s CEO was even involved in Squire Patton Boggs’ panel at the Northern Powerhouse Business Summit Workshop.
Now in our third year working with the team, we were recently shortlisted for a Northern Digital Award for our work with the Hark team. We are thrilled to see the company grow their team and increase their offerings while managing a 600-store rollout of the Hark platform, which now offers predictive maintenance, to a top UK supermarket retailer. Our team was also excited to have brokered an incredible partnership between Hark and multinational tech company Dell.
With Hark we took on a challenge. We expanded our creative processes to penetrate niche markets. The work we’ve carried out over the years has helped Hark grow and position the company at the heart of the digital and IoT scene. Our role in creating genuine interest from global investors and multi-national clients has situated the company on the cusp of a wave—all on a bootstrap budget.