First off, let’s explain what we mean.
Content is any written, visual or audio material that is intended to have real value for its audience.
It serves a purpose. It’s not sales blurb or some veiled attempt at self-promotion.
Content marketing is the strategic sharing of content to realise business goals. And when it comes to start-ups and scale-ups, it can be a great way to build value.
In this quick guide we’ll explain how...
Content builds trust
You’re busy and so are the audiences that are important to your business.
They’re also hungry for information and knowledge that will make them more effective at their jobs, or make their lives richer, easier or simply better.
Provide them with that information and your audience will be grateful.
They’ll start to see that you get them.
Show expertise and insight in your content and you’ll build trust. Oh, and DON’T SELL.
Quite simply, we all like to do business with companies we trust.
(A great example of this is a blog post from Eagle Labs member Silicon Reef explaining the rise of micro apps.)
Content tests assumptions
We know all start-ups are on their own journey of discovery.
They’re constantly evolving and testing hypotheses as they develop their product or service. And content can help.
Content is a great form of Minimal Viable Product (MVP) to learn more about your audience or market.
Create content that focuses on an element of your offer and see what sort of engagement it gets. Put it out on social and see how it’s liked and shared.
That’s what the founder of Dropbox famously did to test his MVP, and it worked out OK for him.
Creating a blog or social post, or even a short video, takes a fraction of effort compared with actually developing a new product feature.
Use content to do A:B testing (randomly test two approaches and see which works best) and gain some hard data.
Content is a great way to fail fast or help prove that your assumptions are correct.
Content creates networks
Start-ups and scale-ups need to get connected if they’re to grow – and content can help make those connections.
You can work on a micro scale. Produce and share a piece of research that will be valuable to a target audience of potential partners or investors. That might only be a handful of people. It could even be an individual whose opinion is vital to the future of your business.
Share the content in whatever way is suitable. A direct message on LinkedIn or a post targeted at a niche group (learn how to do that here). A WebEx or conference presentation. Hell, print it out and deliver it by hand if that’s what’s required.
By producing valuable content you are showing your business’s expertise. Use that content to start a conversation that can grow into a relationship.
Build those relationships into a network to help your business grow.
Content grows audiences
Google can tell the difference between quality content and sales blurb, and so can audiences across social media.
Create useful, engaging content and it will be viewed – and crucially, it will be shared.
There’s a skill to creating SEO-friendly content that will attract the right sort of audience. The good news is that useful, relevant content will almost optimise itself.
People will share content that they have found useful, or that demonstrates how switched on and well informed they are. (They’ll also share cat memes but that’s a subject for a different article…)
Shared content builds audiences. And audiences build value for your business and help you accelerate the benefits of further content produced. It’s a true win-win.
Content establishes brand
Every business needs an identity. A voice. A brand.
Content is a great way to establish brand in an authentic way. Content lets you demonstrate what you’re all about, rather than just telling people how fantastic/edgy/honest you are.
It’s a way for you to express yourself.
For start-ups, that may mean experimenting with different brand personalities (what are they?) until you find the one that fits your product and resonates with your audience.
Lean in to content
The great thing about a content marketing strategy is that you can start small.
You can create a content MVP with little resource. You can pivot and you can iterate.
It’s a lean start-up’s dream come true.
Creating content is unlikely to be the most important thing you do this quarter, but it should almost certainly be on the action list somewhere, in some form.