Content Marketing Do’s & Don’ts: New Startups

by Jay Durgan  4 March 2015

Content marketing is by no means a new way of communication, but when it comes to the recent rise of corporate content marketing that is a different story. With advances in technology, the barrier to entry in the digital content creation space is now significantly lower. While the barrier to entry is significantly lower than previously before, it is important to keep in mind that creating and achieving effective content marketing is (still) not a walk in the park. In fact, in the start of environment – where so much energy and focus is put into the product – developing and executing a content marketing strategy is typically one of the biggest challenges. As the old adage goes, “first impressions of the most important.” The same can be said for content marketing – poor execution can have devastating effects on the longevity of your business. As a start up, all the advice you can get the better. Our friends over at VC–list.com narrowed down a list of four great tips to help your startup get off on the right for with your content marketing:
  1. Early bird gets the worm. No need to wait until you have a product to launch a content marketing program;
  2. Diversify Content Channels.
  3. Don’t fixate on writing;
  4. Look for content and SEO synergies.
  DO: Start Early The Content Marketing Institute suggests that one of the major objectives of content marketing is to “drive profitable customer action.” But, from a startup’s perspective – where the customer base is still not clearly defined – why should you pursue content marketing in the early stages of your business? Let’s have a look at what several prominent thought leaders in the content marketing space had to say about the topic. Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, says, “Content marketing is especially important to startups because the content creation and distribution can play a huge role in helping to define the customer base. Look at what Hubspot did from the very beginning, as they developed their content around inbound and attracted thousands of prospective clients, who then became customers. Content marketing gives you time to build relationships with prospective customers and build a loyal following, even before the product may be ready.” Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, says, “Inbound and content marketing is simply the most efficient way of driving awareness and interest in your start-up, and in starting a dialogue with your audience. If you have unlimited resources to spend on marketing, then maybe you don’t need to worry about content. But most companies I know don’t have that luxury.” Dave Toole, CEO of MEDIAmobz, says, “Content marketing provides a way to understand what communications resonate with prospects and a fast and iterative method of tightening up one’s understanding of the market needs. Of course, it also should increase conversion rates, as email still accounts for 80% of on-line communications.”   DON’T: Limit the Types of Mediums Used Not everyone is a novelist, but every person does have something to say. It’s important to keep in mind that content marketing isn’t just about text content – it should be what works best to convey your message. Video typically is the most effective, but a podcast, video series, a blog post, etc. can be equally effective – you just have to find what works for you.  DO: Consider SEO and Content Marketing Together Referencing the way Google seeks to deliver high-quality content in search results, so should you aim to deliver high-quality content to your clients. Joe Pulizzi says, “it’s not rocket science. Consistent, relevant content delivered on a platform that Google can access has been a winning formula for some time. The biggest key to success is to figure out where you can actually become the LEADING informational expert instead of duplicating other companies where it will take longer to break through.” With “video [as] one of the top weighted variables when it comes to optimizing content marketing,” Dave Toole believes startups can use this to their advantage by aiming to output only high quality and engaging content.    DON’T: Lose Patience or Look for Shortcuts When you are building something from the ground up is expected that it might take some time to build up an audience, but the reality is that the clock is ticking, and every day that passes is a day lost. Joe Pulizzi says, “You can begin the content marketing process before the product is ready,” noting that building up an audience in a 9-12 month timeframe is absolutely possible. With no right way to do it, Ann Handley says, “The important thing is to create a reliable schedule – and stick to it.” She says, “you don’t need to publish daily…but you do need to publish reliably. Give your audience a chance to anticipate…the point is that you need to create a schedule.” Dave Toole says, “it is a slow and lonely on-ramp for many” and “can take over a year to translate and get inertia.”  His advice is to allocate at just the right rate that enables you to get going.   With access to so much content and so many tools, should we go for a high volume of content to drive traffic, even if the conversion rates are low? Dave Toole “This is of personal preference, but consider that there was more content created in the last 2 days than in the history of the planet. That means there is plenty to grab from, though savvy buyers are looking for more content that actually adds value to their time in front of this content, so we need to respect that and make it original.” Ann Handley says, “I wouldn’t worry about the size of the audience. It’s more important to build and nurture an audience that relies on you.” Joe Pulizzi says to just “focus on the methods to build ongoing, loyal subscribers, regardless of conversion rates.  If conversion is a big concern (building subscribers), then focus on amazing, downloadable giveaways that require email addresses (to build the database)”   DO: Look for Good Examples VC-list.com asked their experts to highlight a few recent examples of tech startups seeing great success with their content marketing strategies. Here’s what they said: Joe Pulizzi:Copyblogger is now one of the fastest growing SaaS companies, and built that through their 200k+ subscribers.  Of course, there is Hubspot, and other marketing automation companies like MarketoBookBub and Buffer are also amazing examples of this.  One of the best examples was Mint.com, who was bought out by Intuit.” Ann Handley:Lattice Engines does a great job. So does Open View Venture Partners – they aren’t a tech company, but they advise and fund those in the tech startup space. Probably my favorite example is Crowd Mics, because they tell their story in a simple yet powerful way. The best content is useful, inspired, and empathic to the needs of your audience. These guys did that beautifully.” Dave Toole: “Slack used content marketing to engage get feedback and rapidly build their business. We have clients that have now made this part of their culture. They go to an event and can predict the flow of content against the stages in the sales funnel and measure content budget down to sales conversions at the bottom of the funnel. More and more are recognizing that this is not only for attracting new clients but keeping those that you have worked so hard to bring on board, or even keeping your in house talent engaged with a sense of importance through content.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *