June 5, 2017
Mailing lists can be a simple yet powerful tool to keep people up to date on your progress. The advantage of having several mailing lists is that you can tailor your information with the right audience. Here’s some tips on how to carve up the mailing lists to optimize your engagement and get your startup noticed by investors and mentors.
The Mentor List
Mentors are a handful of people who are close to the founders, but aren’t involved in your business day to day. Use this list to deeply engage mentors and help them help you.
The mentors list is particularly handy when you are going through a mentorship-driven accelerator. Since most accelerator programs are three to six months long and you are trying to get a lot done, weekly cadence for these emails will ensure that you can get the most out of the mentors and continue to engage with them. After you are done with the accelerator, continuing to send them an update once a month would be good.
Read advice from mentors on how to build your startup at Tech.Co
The theme of the mentor email is to ask for help. Within the body of the text, explain what you are challenged with and put down specific asks for how people can help you.
In order to get better response, you can use a specific mentor’s name through the email, so that asks aren’t generic but addressed to specific mentors.
Also, consider including the following in your mentor updates: Shout outs – thank specific mentors for their help, update on KPIs and milestones, short list of non-quantitative wins, struggles and asks and a short bullet list of upcoming goals.
Internal Team List
When you are starting the company and there are only a few cofounders, it seems like everyone knows everything that’s going on. It is, however, a good practice for the CEO to send regular updates to the team, even if you are just two people.
Early-stage startups should be setting goals and making progress every week. Having a weekly update email along with the weekly meeting and goals will help your team stay aligned and execute. Once your company grows and scales, you can switch the cadence of these emails to monthly or less often.
The content of the email should be similar to the mentors email. Include shout outs and thank you’s to employees who did a great job, summarize KPIs and wins, explain struggles, ask for help and set new goals.
The Investors List
Keeping current or potential investors up-to-date is absolutely critical. You should have a separate list for a group of investors who said they want to be updated on your progress. This is particularly critical for raising a series A and beyond, and is handy in slower funding environments since investors are more hesitant to commit.
Mark Suster, in his classic post, explains it best. He says that later-stage investors want to invest in lines, not dots. That is, they want to get to know you, want to see your progress and want to get more conviction that you can execute.
A great way to prove your worth to investors is to show them how you execute over time. If the investor asks to keep them posted, ask if they want to be on your updates list.
Since these folks are prospective investors, name the list something simple, like updates@company. For early-stage companies, send updates to investors every 4 to 8 weeks and quarterly for later-stage companies.
The focus of these updates is your progress against your KPIs and milestones. You are showing that you can set the goals and, hopefully, achieve them. It is also important to be candid about your struggles. You aren’t necessarily asking for help, but you are not just delivering the good news.
Expect that prospective investors will reach back out with questions. If you are hitting it out of the park and numbers keep growing, expect that investors will want to meet again and potentially propose to invest.
We’ve seen this simple system of engaging potential investors via a mailing list really work. Remember that like any list, there is a social pressure. An investor knows that there are other investors on the same list who are getting the updates, and feels compelled to act if they are interested in your business and you keep growing and executing well.
The Other Lists
One other list that you can develop is for outbound communication. For example, you can use a news@ mailing list to update friends of the company – anyone who is not a mentor or investor but you want to keep updated.
Lists can be a very effective way to help you manage your communication with your team, mentors, investors, etc. Be sure to clean up your lists and keep them up to date. Be clear and be careful who you are sending information to and why.
Keep your updates formatted and short. People don’t have time to read lengthy updates so lead with essentials.
Read more about developing email marketing lists at Tech.Co
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