Make Content Work For Your Startup
“Content is king.” We’re sure you’ve heard this – it’s a favorite term of marketers everywhere. And it makes sense why: content serves a multitude of purposes – you need it for social media’s one-to-one marketing and you certainly need plenty of it for paid advertising (think native, think landing pages). You need content for practically everything you’re going to take advantage of as you market your startup. From videos, to white papers, even to print ads, content is what helps you tell consumers that you are here, and why.
Here’s a staggering statistic to start us off: “Once a content marketing operation has had time to engage and audience, the number of marketing qualified leads garnered can increase by 75%.” Helllloooo content marketing! You are here to stay.
“Marketing is not a department.” Every touch-point with your customers from sales to customer service is marketing. Your brand voice should be consistent whether a consumer is browsing your Facebook page or is speaking with a sales person.
To understand how you should shape this brand voice, determine first what your customers’ needs are and how you fulfill them. It’s especially helpful to develop a Minimum Viable Personality. MVP –fortuitous initials, since this is your Most Valuable Player. You are always thinking of this personality when you create something reflective of your brand. It helps to sell to someone you know – and it helps to make your story and your message interesting. The tenets of the Minimum Viable Personality are:
- Mission – How do you make a difference in your customers’ lives?
- Values – What do you stand for above all else?
- Enemy – What/who are you against? Who do you hate?
Once you have these nailed down, you have the basics of what you want to communicate to your customers. Now figure out how to frame it in a way your target audience will appreciate – understand what they would think and feel (worries, hopes), say and do (why purchase from you, what are the alternatives, how do they interact?), hear, see and feel. What are the pain points, and what can they gain from purchasing from you? If you have the ability and at least a small audience, a survey can work wonders in helping you figure this part out. Now you can shape your brand voice, using your MVP to highlight what matters to your audience.
Note: Testing and recalibrating will be important in the beginning so that you can solidify who your audience really is; as a startup, you’re likely still developing who YOU are, so don’t expect to get it exactly right the first time.
What To Produce Content About
Once you’ve nailed down with whom you are communicating, you have to decide what to talk about. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it (this according to Simon Sinek’s concept of “The Golden Circle”). Your startup is exciting and fresh and is here to solve a problem – your content should reflect that. Tell a story.
Curating content is an important aspect of your social media and content marketing strategy. Finding important, relevant articles and information and disseminating them helpfully can go a long way. But when creating new content, the stuff that will be reflective of your brand, two main types can help turn your startup into an important resource. Descriptive content and editorial content. Descriptive content tells the public about your product, how it works and what it does, and editorial gives corollary tips about using it well, what it’s best for, what else it can impact, etc.
Here’s what you need to do to get started on creating content:
- Competitive research. Understand what the other guys are doing. Are they hitting the mark with regard to your target audience’s interests, pains and gains? See what you can do better.
- Keyword research and analytics data. Is there a relevant term that searchers use in addition to your brand name when searching for you? Use it when you’re writing. Do some additional keyword research for your niche to see what people are most interested in learning about, then use those keywords to formulate ideas.
- Consult customer service/FAQ/Surveys. Understand the most frequently asked questions, complaints or desires, and write about them. Answer them.
- Headline brainstorming. There’s a science to grabbing attention. Headlines are arguably the most important part of your piece. Write exciting ones.
- Reuse. Once you’ve created some content – whether it’s blog posts, videos, infographics or something else – remember that repurposing it isn’t a bad thing. Syndicating it across all available networks can be effective, as long as the content is re-packaged to suit each individual audience. If you’re revisiting an old video, use clips of it and re-share (instead of the whole thing).
Promotion of your content is almost as important as its creation. What’s the point of the piece you’ve just created if no one sees it? Targeted and engaging content is only as good as what it can do for you. How can you help your hard work along?
While there’s something to be said for naturally growing an audience using just your content and social media as a tool –as a startup, you surely want to do the most that you can to get the word out quickly. Go ahead and create a content calendar to ensure you keep up with your audience’s expectations and stay consistent, and then get to work on your outreach.
Creating useful content is the first step to getting outreach right. Next is developing relationships with influencers in your niche: interact with them on social media, share their content, and get on their radar. Maybe send them a free sample of your product to try and share with their followers. They may even invite you to guest on their platform so that their many subscribers can learn about your brand. Using tools like Buzzsumo or Followerwonk, you can easily learn about these important figures; thanks to Twitter, you can easily access them. These are the people that your target audience trusts; they take recommendations from influencers like they would from friends. Take advantage of that fact!
Don’t be afraid to get personal. If you write a blog post that cites other sources (think influencers), find the email addresses of those sources and quickly send them personal and specific notes. A simple “Hey, I learned a lot from you on a regular basis on your blog, and I especially enjoyed this piece. Just wanted to let you know I gave you a shout out in my latest post, found here [link]” can go a long way. You’ve positioned this person as an authority, so he or she should have no reason not to share your content on his or her social networks, and help you spread the word.
Another important piece of the content marketing puzzle: native advertising, which essentially allows you to pay to syndicate your content on major websites. Though a more expensive route, native advertising can help you broadcast your content to a much larger audience.
But you can’t do it alone. There are several robust tools available that allow you to broadcast your content on several large outlets. Our favorites are:
- Outbrain – We’d say CNN is a pretty good place to advertise your content; Outbrain helps you to get there. Having your (relevant and interesting) content on large web properties will help you both engage your existing audience and attract new customers. When you use tools like Outbrain, your content appears on popular sites in a similar format to the content that visitors are already on those site sto consume – giving you a chance to redirect their attention to what you have to say.
- Taboola – Similarly, Taboola helps you bring your editorial content to the right audience to drive engagement. It’s a simple, easy to use tool for placing your sponsored content in the right places across the web.
- Bidtellect – This tool blends programmatic advertising with native advertising. It offers a scalable way to connect publishers with advertisers, marrying the fast-paced, stock-exchange like nature of programmatic with effective content promotion.
Other Posts in this Series
Content marketing is just one piece of a very complex puzzle. For a more comprehensive look at digital marketing across multiple channels, read more from our series, “How To Market Your Startup”:
How to Market Your Startup: An Introduction
Make the Most of Your Budget with Campaign Measurement
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