Startups have limited time and resources and an overabundance of marketing options at their disposal. How do you reach out to your customers with only some left over Kung Pow noodles to offer as currency? Even if you had a marketing budget, which part of the marketing mix bandwagon do you jump on? Offline, online, SEO, SEM, print, social media or a light dash of them all?
As customers become more and more complex with their purchasing decisions and as existing channels become less effective, founders have to devise more ingenious techniques to connect with their customers. Being pounded with crappy content, constant banner ads and social media posts has become overwhelming for customers, fragmenting the engagement between brand and end user. As going round to a customer’s house to hug them and tell them how much you love them for being so loyal isn’t an option, new avenues need to be explored.
I’m sure many of you have heard the buzz about Content Marketing and have read about success stories from more established startups such as Buffer, Hubspot, Kissmetrics and Moz who are all directing very effective campaigns.
But before we delve into any more detail, what on earth is content marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI):
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target”
Recent research From the CMI in the US shows that 9 out of 10 B2B companies incorporate content marketing as part of their strategy showing how popular it’s becoming as a ‘new’ marketing tool.
But why should you and your startup care? Well I’m about to tell you why. Here are 5 ways that content marketing can benefit your startup:
1. Credibility & Expertise
Whatever your background may be, whether you’re a rockstar hacker, marketing expert, business guy or ex-gigolo, you hopefully know something about your subject area.
“But I have no experience writing; I can’t do it, I’m illiterate!” Yeah, I’ve been there before. You’ll be surprised when you sit down, apply yourself and start pounding at the keys what you’re capable of. Think about all the experience you have gained and the knowledge you can share with your customers about your specific field. No one expects you to be the next Charles Dickens or to have such an eloquent fashion that knocks everyone off his or her feet. The idea about content marketing is to provide your customers with valuable and relevant information that will further engage them with your brand.
Whatever you decide to do, whether writing about your industry on a blog, giving lessons on Udemy, public speaking in a sector related forum or pulling a public stunt (i.e. standing naked with your startup logo on your chest, enclosed in a block of ice in front of the Apple headquarters), anything that shows that you are an authority your field gives you credibility. Credibility helps position you as an industry leader, which reflects positively on your brand.
As a startup founder who is more often than not, trying to fundraise, credibility and trust are key. Going to VC’s as an authority in your field will help open doors and make fundraising that little bit easier. Also, the content you produce essentially acts as your rap sheet for future ventures and activities.
2. Brand Awareness & Traffic Generation
You aren’t writing all this astounding content just for fun now are you?
Like any type of marketing, the goal of content marketing is to increase brand awareness and to bring you traffic. This is in fact the #1 goal of companies who conduct content marketing as found by the CMI survey.
Content marketing that is worth marketing. i.e. relevant and unique, will help engage potential customers and drive them to your website. Then it’s your job to convert them to customers. The more interesting and engaged your customers are, the higher the probability they will share your content. More shares = more eyes = more traffic.
According to Nielsen data, content marketing drives three times the sales of digital advertising, which makes it a very attractive and powerful option.
3. It’s Cheaper!
Findings from numerous studies on content marketing show that content marketing is by far a cheaper and more effective marketing channel.
Naturally, producing quality and original content from a third party, such as blog posts, video and infographics will cost money but much less than splashing the cash on AdWords or paying so called ‘marketing’ and SEO experts.
Kapost and Eloquea found that content marketing costs per lead drops 80% after the first 5 months. Sounds nice eh?! For startups, this is an excellent way to maximize and make best of their limited resources.4. SEO
With the implementation of Penguin and future Google algorithms, content wrongdoers and loophole searchers will continue to be punished for pumping out irrelevant, farmed and copied nonsense. However, such search engines love unique quality content with tons of shares, long-tailed keywords relevant to your business that will help you rank well in organic search.
5. Customer retention
Gaining a new customer can cost a hell of a lot of time and money. But how do you keep them coning back again and again? Retention is the mother of all conundrums with no unified solution. Considering that retaining an existing customer is on average 5 times cheaper than getting a new one, you best find a way to keep em’ around!
Having a constant stream of communication with your customers through content marketing, especially blogs, allows them to pose questions, queries, problems, suggestions, solutions, hell even insults. Apart from your customer service department, this adds an extra channel for customers to communicate with your brand and to help address these issues.
Not only that, with fresh content you are constantly educating your customers and adding value this way. If you don’t educate them then your competition will!
Although content marketing could be your Jack Bauer, there are also critics who deem that this new transition towards content marketing isn’t at an advanced enough stage to fully comprehend how effective it can be. Sunil Rajaraman lays out some interesting issues worth reading.
Overall, content marketing done the right way can be a fantastic marketing tool that will get your startup in the right gear moving forward. For your content marketing campaigns to be successful you must devote time and energy to producing original and relevant content material, planning a well-rounded strategy and most importantly measuring the shit out of your results. If you are not producing the content in house, then make sure the company you are working with has same goals and knows how to drive results.
Check out our presentation on slideshare here.
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