Attention Startups! Content Marketing is easier than it looks
by Stephanie Goodman
As with every job, there is no end to learning. As Mark always says to me, â€śyou donâ€™t know what you donâ€™t know.â€ť In light of this, I make a conscious effort to visit a webinar, read a new blog or talk to a new expert in the industry once a week. Last week I visited my trusted source for marketing info: Hubspot. While we are currently revamping our website, I found it most appropriate to attend a webinar on content marketing. The webinar, hosted by Mike Stelzner from Social Media Examiner, described how marketing should not be used to sell to our customers, rather, it should be used to educate them.
Mike stated, like space, nothing remains still and everything is in orbit. Our startups, growing organizations and their strategies fall under this metaphor. What does stay constant in our marketing process is that we are always engaging with people. So how do we provide relevant, valuable content in an ever changing environment? Below are some of the webinar highlights that I believe will help you get your content marketing strategies started or back on track.
Marketers are treating their customers like children. Instead of walking alongside of our customers, many of us are forcing them to comply to our will. Your service may be beneficial to your customers, but do they know that they need you? (Again, you donâ€™t know what you donâ€™t know). In saying this, speak to your customers needs, do not speak about your products. In our case, our prospects may not know their startup needs sales or marketing assistance. By providing blogs, whitepapers and newsletters with tips on how to grow a startup, we are speaking to their needs and incorporating strategies and tactics deemed helpful in order to get them to where they want to be.
Are your gifts really marketing messages in disguise? When you give someone a gift for their birthday, do you give them a picture of yourself (letâ€™s take parents/grandparents out of this equation)? I hope you donâ€™t. You give them something that is valuable to them or something that will bring them happiness. Same goes for content marketing. If youâ€™re writing about yourself/your company all the time rather than writing for your audience, you are committing the crime of giving them a picture of yourself on their birthday.
Iâ€™m a startup and I donâ€™t have money for marketing, let alone content marketing. The great thing about content marketing is that you can do it in a way that only cost your time, not your paycheque. If you donâ€™t have a blog, develop a strategy to start one (link to previous blog). If you donâ€™t have whitepapers, develop a strategy to write your first one and post it. The whole idea is a shift from buying ad space to providing great quality content, experience and to gather valuable information within a community that can use it. Here are some ways to come up with great content:
- Think of your last meeting with a prospect. What kinds of business pains did they have? What questions did they ask? What preconceived notions did they share?
- Attend webinars, read others blogs and accept a few newsletters. Summarize the points you think your audience will find useful and write about them; you can also write opinion pieces on why you perhaps disagree but remember to back up your claims.
- Attend startup events in your area. Because they are for startups, majority of the events will be free (the only cost is your time). Gather points about the presentations or see if you can interview one of the presenters at a later date if you think they could provide valuable insight that you can turn into valuable content.
I really liked Mikeâ€™s phrase â€śCaging Marketing.â€ť Donâ€™tâ€™ go for the kill just because you can see it. Your prospects need to trust you in order to approach you. As a startup, it may seem difficult to build a reputation as trustworthy because the majority of people still donâ€™t know who you are or where you came from. Build off that. This is your clean slate to show your audience what youâ€™re made of and how well you know what you know. Donâ€™t be afraid to admit your shortcomings and ask for advice; people love to give their opinion and share their expertise. While you build your company, build your network by sharing, interacting and listening to what your prospects, customers and partners are saying.