Content marketing is one of the most important marketing tools you need to have in your toolbox as a startup founder.
The first reason is that content marketing has starting capital requirements close to zero, which is extremely valuable in the early startup stages where the resources you have to invest in your project mostly consist of the time and effort of your founding team.
The second reason is that content is a great way to engage with your target audience and get a better understanding of their wants and needs. After all, in the early startup stages, your main goal is to iterate on your offering and find product-market fit. So, if your marketing strategy gives you information that helps you in the pursuit of PMF, then it is generating additional value.
So, here are three important tips for doing efficient content marketing as a startup:
1. Create Value, Don't Blatantly Advertise
The competition for the attention of people nowadays is extremely fierce. Nobody would invest time in consuming content that they don't genuinely find interesting or useful.
Because of this, you need to think about your content in the same way you are thinking about your product. Why would people want to consume it? What value does it provide to them?
You can think about how to advertise your brand and product only after you have good answers to these two questions, and you should be careful. If your content carries the feeling of being a blatant advertisement, it would turn people off, which means it wouldn't generate any promotional value anyway.
It's a good idea to do competition research about the content available to your target customers on different platforms and to think if you see any holes in the content market that you can step into.
2. Engage With The Community Genuinely
Assuming you would be starting from scratch – i.e. you don't already have an audience yet, then you should consider how you start gaining your first followers/subscribers.
One of the best ways to do this is to genuinely engage with the community. Participate in the forums relevant to your industry (e.g. subreddits) and/or engage with the content of other creators on social media and YouTube.
Don't engage just to plug your own content – again, you need to create value. Share your interesting opinions and experience.
This way people that encounter you on other pieces of content and find you interesting might follow you and might become the first active advocates of your content.
Getting the first few active followers and advocates of your content is а crucial step since the engagement they give you sends positive signals to the algorithms of the distribution platforms you are using. This in turn increases the chance your content will get promoted algorithmically.
3. Focus On One Medium And One Distribution Channel
We already mentioned that you don't have access to a lot of capital in the early startup stages. Your time, however, is also limited. Becoming good enough with one medium and one distribution channel is hard enough, so it's a big mistake to try to do too much with too few resources. Simplicity and focus are your allies as a startup founder – don't spread yourself too thin.
To make sure that your content marketing efforts are successful, you need to make sure your content, as well as your promotional strategies, are the best in your niche.
To make this a realistic goal, you need to focus as much as possible – one distribution channel and one medium are the way to go in the early stages.
Once you grow, you can afford to hire people who are experts in other mediums and channels, but even then it's not a good idea to spread your efforts too much.
"Content marketing is all the marketing that's left." — Seth Godin
Content marketing for startups has its specificities you need to be familiar with if you intend to invest in this marketing strategy for your business. In short, creating value, genuinely engaging with the community, and focusing your efforts as much as possible is a recipe for success.
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