As an early-stage tech startup, you want to get noticed, right? After all, you want to find investors who believe in your ideas and later customers who want to buy the MVP that you’re creating.
And to get noticed, it is important to stand out from the crowd. Creating that initial awareness and buzz will help you find your first customers and build trust with investors and suppliers.
But just pitching your product will not help you stand out. And creating social media posts that everyone else is creating will not help either. Both get boring over time. So how can you make your tech startup stand out in a way that is interesting and not too salesy?
Enter content marketing.
Content marketing is a great way for startup founders to start doing marketing. It’s cost-effective as the content builds the knowledge and expertise that founders have built up while building their product. And this content can be used to establish a brand presence, reach customers, and drive business growth.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what content marketing is, how it can benefit your startup, and how to get started.
What is content marketing?
The definition of content marketing is simple: It’s the process of publishing written and visual material online with the purpose of attracting more leads to your business. These can include blog posts, pages, ebooks, infographics, videos, and more.Hubspot
So, content marketing for startups is about using the expertise that you acquire while building your product to persuade your target audience that you can help them. Therefore, it can help startups build expertise and authority by allowing them to establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry.
In addition, it can be used to cover the various stages of the customer journey. For instance, blog posts, videos, or social media posts can be used to create initial awareness. Once your target audience is aware of your startup’s existence, lead magnets like infographics and white papers can be used to persuade your audience that you have the knowledge to help them. In addition, these can help you build an email list that allows you to inform your audience on a regular basis.
The Bermuda Triangle of Content Marketing
As you can see, there are a lot of opportunities to turn your knowledge into marketing materials. But there are also mistakes that startup founders can make when deploying. Basically, these mistakes fall into three categories. This is why I call them the Bermuda Triangle of content marketing:
- Only self-promotion
Content Marketing has a promotional aspect to it, but it is certainly not designed to show off. Rather, the purpose of content marketing is to tell a story and add value (e.g. knowledge) for your customer.
- Not spreading the word
On the other side, not letting people know about the knowledge you acquired while building your innovative product is also not a smart move. Because then people do not know how you got where you are today. And if you’re afraid of sharing failures, most very successful startups had to pivot a number of times before striking gold.
- Same message, same delivery
While consistency in your language and design is key, posting about the same topic all the time gets boring. One way to get around that is to explore the boundaries of the topics that your product is about and to educate your audience about that too.
By avoiding the Bermuda Triangle of content marketing, startup founders can avoid that they become irrelevant to their target audience.
Benefits of content marketing for startups
There are several benefits to content marketing that span the entire customer journey. So overall, content marketing can help startups reach their target audience, establish their brand, and drive business growth.
An important benefit for early-stage startups is that it is a cost-effective way for startups to reach and engage their target audience, compared to traditional forms of advertising. While it does require an investment in time and money, startups don’t need to acquire any additional resources as they already have the necessary knowledge.
As startups need to build awareness of their very existence, they need to boost their search rankings. And content marketing helps improve a website’s search engine ranking, making it easier for potential customers to find the startup through search engines.
Another benefit is that it builds credibility and authority. Particularly creating high-quality, informational content proves to people that you have the expertise to be a credible partner for them. An important part of this is that content marketing can humanize your brand. The last thing you want to do is come across as a bunch of geeks. So giving your team a face and linking knowledge and experience to individuals helps to build credibility and authority.
In addition, content marketing provides an opportunity for startups to connect with their target audience and develop a relationship with them. And building on awareness, credibility, and authority, startups can attract potential customers and convert them into leads and sales by providing helpful and informative content.
Ultimately, it also facilitates customer retention. Because by providing ongoing, valuable content, startups can keep their customers engaged and reduce customer churn.
Building authority with content marketing
As discussed before, content marketing can help startups build expertise and authority as it allows startups to establish themselves as thought leaders in their industry. To achieve that, their content has to meet 4 key criteria:
The information provided is valuable for their target audience.
By creating and distributing high-quality, informative content, startups can demonstrate their expertise and show their target audience that they are knowledgeable about their industry.
Value for the target audience starts with a well-defined audience. Because if you know who they are, you know what makes them tick. It also means that you must do a lot of research to know what they are looking for. For instance, by conducting keyword research or looking at your competitors to find out what information is resonating with their audience.
Whether content is valuable for your target audience can be measured by website visits and time on site.
The information is broadcasted in a consistent voice.
Consistent and frequent content creation helps startups establish their brand voice and position themselves as trusted source of information.
It’s important here to ensure that an average member of your target audience can easily understand the information. The power of expertise lies in part in your ability to explain complex things in simple words. Using jargon is therefore a bad idea.
The information is engaging.
Good content should engage in two ways. First, good content provides interesting and meaningful information to a relevant audience.
As a result, good content will be a source for interaction with the audience. This interaction can come through comments, both on social media, and other channels. The interaction can help your startup to get relevant feedback about your product. This feedback can be used to improve your product and it can build relationships with your target audience and establish your expertise.
The information solves a problem.
By addressing common industry challenges and providing solutions through content, startups can demonstrate their expertise and establish themselves as trusted source of information.
Of course, it then helps to have a thorough understanding of how your target audience perceives this problem. Here, again, researching the competition can help you.
Overall, by consistently providing valuable, relevant content, startups can position themselves as experts in their field and build credibility and authority with their target audience. This can help them attract more customers and grow their business.
How to get started with content marketing with your startup
To get started with content marketing, you need to take seven steps that together form your content marketing strategy:
1. Define your target audience
You want to know who you produce the content for. Otherwise, you cannot produce meaningful content of high quality. So, start by developing a profile of your ideal customer. It will help you define their interests and pain points. By doing so, you can make sure that your content contains information that is relevant to them.
Another way of looking at this is documenting the customer journey, although this starts with a good description of a persona and his or her problem as well.
2. Set goals
A plan without goals is just a plan. So, make sure you set up goals and KPIs that can guide you. An extra benefit is that it can help you measure the results later on so you can find areas of improvement.
Especially for early-stage startups, awareness, website visits, and the number of subscribers to your mailing list should be among the KPIs that you track.
3. Create a content marketing plan
This plan helps you execute the strategy. It gives an outline of the main messages and how they fit with your brand and your customer journey. Next to that, the plan mentions the type of posts and channels, the frequency, how content is created, approved, and published, and by whom. And, of course, the plan should list the KPIs that you use to track the performance of your content.
4. Create high-quality content
This is where the execution of the plan starts. Good quality content is not only interesting in the sense that it addresses the pain points of your target audience. It should of course also address possible solutions, including but not limited to your own solution. Otherwise, it becomes too salesy and boring.
5. Optimize content for search engines
This is an often overlooked but very important part of an effective content marketing strategy. Especially as a startup, you need to be found by your target audience. And investors will be screening for this. Optimizing content includes using the right keywords in your content and optimizing your website for low response times and responsive design.
6. Promote your content
Creating content is only helpful if you promote it. This can be done via both paid and unpaid social media and via tools like the company profile on Google. Once you have an email list, distributing your content to your subscribers will generate more views. Don’t forget to ask your subscribers to share content if it relevant to others.
7. Measure and refine your strategy based on the result
To ensure that your strategy gives you the desired results, it is important to track your metrics and adjust your content strategy accordingly. To measure, you can use analytics tools to monitor website traffic, engagement, and conversion rates. Based on the results, you should make changes as needed to improve your results.
Tips for the content marketing strategy of your startup
One of the reasons founders do not start marketing their startup is that they overestimate the amount of time involved. Good content marketing does not need to cost a lot of time, provided you take the following tips seriously.
- Start small. Your startup doesn’t have the manpower to create content like Gary Vaynerchuk. The same is true for the number of platforms. Especially in the beginning, it is more important to do one thing well. For instance, start with a blog and promote that on LinkedIn.
- Don’t overengineer the content. A business coach told me once that the first posts will not be seen by many people because you have no followers. So, you might as well use them to test and build your content marketing strategy.
- One thing that worked well for my clients and me was to build a pool of pictures and a document with samples of text that can be used to create posts from. These are called swipe files.
- Content includes information about the people behind the brand. Having real people present the content, i.e., write the blog, and present the video, goes a long way in making your startup human as opposed to a bunch of geeks. As people do business with people, this goes a long way in building trust.
- No inspiration? There are several topics that you can use. For instance, we seem to have a “National day” for just about anything. In addition, posts about the team and the people behind the startup tend to perform well. And a tool that I use often is AnswerThePublic to get questions people ask about a certain topic.
- Progress beats perfection. Sure, results are important but it’s enough to improve by 1% at a time. After all, content marketing is a long-term strategy that requires consistent effort and patience.
Content marketing can help startups build a loyal audience and a profitable business. It gives you the opportunity to use the knowledge that you get from building a product for your marketing. To be successful you want to start with a documented plan and a clear profile of your ideal customer. This will help you stay out of the Bermuda triangle of content marketing and plan your efforts.
And if you want to know if your content marketing is on the right track, or if you need assistance creating or executing the content marketing plan, feel free to book a free launch strategy call.