What Startups Need to Know About Content Marketing

April 23, 2015

9:00 am

As the leader of a VC-backed startup, you’re on the clock to build a brand that wows customers and investors.

But tackling branding, corporate communications, sales, lead generation and PR separately isn’t cheap or easy. You need one strategy that can drive all of these initiatives.

With content marketing, you can educate and engage potential clients while differentiating your company and positioning it as an industry leader. It’s an extensive branding and sales strategy that will breathe new life into your startup.

Great content isn’t just a way to reach potential clients, though. It’s also a way to keep stakeholders in the loop about their financial investments. As you publish content that explains how you overcame challenges, provides thoughtful industry analysis, and describes innovative projects your company is spearheading, you’ll build trust and quality relationships with investors and potential customers.

Leverage content to get your startup in the spotlight

Every entrepreneur eventually wants to become an industry leader. To do that, you need to prove you’re the best at what you do. The best way to accomplish that is to start demonstrating your know-how through content. As you start leading conversations and attracting a following, you’ll get a credibility boost that will impress investors and potential clients.

Here are seven tips for revving up your content strategy:

1. Outline your objectives. If you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, your efforts won’t serve a real purpose. Choose one or two metrics that are most meaningful to your startup’s goals, and let them guide your strategy.

2. Create a strategy and timeline. You should test and iterate new ideas, but every tweak must serve a larger purpose to drive any real value. Establish a long-term strategy so every article you write and publication placement you earn works toward your goals. Having a tangible document to reference down the road will make it easier to keep your messaging and marketing efforts consistent.

3. Establish a content creation workflow. Inefficiency will be your greatest enemy when you begin creating content. You should use an editorial calendar and knowledge management system to document ideas and plan your content. This is especially important when you start increasing the number of articles you’re publishing. Kapost offers editorial calendar management and is an efficient option for scheduling and tracking your content.

4. Manage your knowledge. Before long, you’ll create so much high-quality content that you’ll eventually recycle some ideas. Make it easy to mine old articles and ideas to supplement new articles by organizing that expertise using a knowledge management template or spreadsheet. This will promote consistency and decrease the amount of time it takes to create new, revived content.

5. Distribute with purpose. Too often, people’s answer to the “no one is reading my content” problem is to produce more. But this only masks the real problem: distribution. Target publications your intended audience is reading, and devise a plan for extending your content’s life after it’s published. This can include republishing content on LinkedIn or posting it in relevant groups to start conversations.

6. Track your content’s performance. You can’t create content and expect it to stick. Like every new task, you need to constantly monitor and optimize your strategy. Consider using an inbound marketing tool such as HubSpot to organize your content and measure traffic, conversions, and social engagement. Google Analytics also tracks your content’s performance and shows how different traffic sources behave on your site. Invest in Zapier to keep these tools connected and working in harmony.

7. Consider hiring a CCO. If you want to take your content to the next level, a chief content officer can make it happen. CCOs are managers, salespeople, and writers, but they’re also designers, editors, and cross-departmental collaborators. If you decide to hire a CCO, look for someone who is analytical, creative, and an agile learner.

When strategizing ways to get your startup off the ground, don’t discount content marketing in favor of more traditional lead generation or branding efforts. By investing in content creation and distribution up front, you can build the framework for a profitable sales and branding machine.

 

Image Credit: Flickr/Rob Nguyen

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Josh Johnson is vice president of Influence & Co., a Columbia, Missouri-based company that specializes in expertise extraction and knowledge management, which are used to fuel content marketing efforts.

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