When To Start Content Marketing For Your Startup & How To Focus Your Strategy
By Laura Cowan
Laura K. Cowan is a tech editor and journalist whose work has focused on promoting sustainability initiatives for automotive, green tech, and conscious living media outlets.
"Isn't this supposed to be an overnight success?" asks Dawn Verbrigghe, CEO of website creation startup Jottful at a2tech360's TechTalk last year.
One of the questions we receive most at Cronicle when speaking with new startups or small businesses considering content marketing is:
"When should I start content marketing for my startup? How do I know what kind of content marketing to focus on?"
It's not very helpful to say, "Start as soon as possible." That's because good content marketing requires some planning. Content marketing is a sustained effort to produce informational content for prospective clients or your community. There is one key that we wanted to pass on to you if you're putting together a content marketing program, and that is this: Content marketing should start when you have the most news to share, and should be targeted in the right tone for the right audience. Here's how to figure out what that means for your business.
Michigan startup BrandXR's founder Moody Mattan got on the speaking circuit and gave a Tedx Detroit talk on the future of XR and augmented reality tech as part of an early round of content marketing, which also doubles as awareness to raise interest from investors.
When Do I Start Content Marketing For My Business?
The best time to start content marketing could look different for different companies:
Are you just launching your company? Whom do you aim to serve? Who would love to hear about it? Send out press releases to regional and industry media about what you're doing, attend networking groups, and ask if you can share industry wisdom related to your products and services to local business support organizations, pitch groups, and conferences.
Are you launching a new innovative product? Start blogging about the problems it solves, and send out press releases offering interviews regarding how your product fits into larger trends in your industry. Offer talks at local or industry events to help people solving these problems learn more about where to start.
Are you creating a new class or product offering? After you send out a press release and share news on social media, consider hosting a webinar or podcast talking about the issues your product or service addresses.
Cybersecurity startup Blumira hosts webinars on various topics of interest to business owners addressing security issues on a budget. They raise awareness of issues small business owners might face related to security.
Content Marketing Is Not A Sales Pitch
Notice that none of the suggestions above involve pitching people on your product or company directly. This is an important point. Especially when you are growing a new startup, it's important to know the difference between a sales pitch for your product and a content marketing pitch.
A Startup Sales Pitch
A sales pitch is a direct pitch for the value your product or service can bring a prospective customer. If you're pitching your startup to investors, you might focus on competitive advantage, growth and traction, and demonstrate interest from early customers.
Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing is about proving you are a key player in your industry and a helpful community member so people naturally find you as a potential solutions provider to their problems. Content marketing demonstrates expertise and empathy for the issues current in your space and keeps you relevant. It is a generous offer of information people already are looking for.
One great way to do this is to interview other industry leaders to avoid trying to be the only game in town. This helps you leverage industry leaders' network for reaching new customers, but more importantly it helps you stay visible in your industry where people are already looking for solutions. Whether you're blogging, hosting online webinars, or writing guest posts for magazines, focus on what the information offers prospective clients. Don't sell them your product or service. Show them that you care about the problems they're trying to solve, and offer information-based solutions to help educate them about what they're already looking for solutions to.
A pitch club event at Ann Arbor business support organization Ann Arbor SPARK. When you are creating a content marketing plan, consider offering talks on subjects of interest to people who attend networking and pitch events to raise visibility of your expertise and offer useful information to the public. Often these events can turn into regular programming or speaking invitations at conferences.
The Key To Great Content Marketing
The key to successful content marketing is to know what information your prospective clients are looking for, and how to reach them. This has to do with 3 things:
When will a prospective client be looking for your company's solutions? When they're first signing up for new business software? When they're looking to grow their company? Be where they are looking when they are needing those solutions. It's not just about timing when you have a new product to offer. Also think about the timing of your clients and their needs.
If your business has created a new piece of software that helps manufacturers manage inventory, you'll want to research what information people search for when looking for a software solution for inventory management and who they are. Figure out where they're looking (Google searches? Trade shows? Industry networking?) and then be there when they show up. Not with a sales pitch. With information. Often you can use your customer discovery process as an early startup to learn more about the demographics of who is interested in your product or service, and where they're looking for solutions. Use this in your content marketing strategy. You might also segment different demographics you hope will be great customers, and test over time which clients result in high-value contracts or are most enthusiastic about your product.
When you show up, you need to communicate in a way this particular audience understands. For example, does your industry speak in a specialized jargon? Do the customers hate jargon? Pay attention to how the industry communicates and who is successful at it to adjust the tone of your messaging.
Tone also involves the angle of your approach. If you're a biotech startup, do you need to avoid claiming that your product solves a certain issue until it gets through the regulatory process with the FDA? Then you'll want to use content marketing to build general awareness of the issue you're solving, such as antibiotic resistance or Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Have your experts address the information people are looking for, and don't pitch your startup's solution. Pitch the need for solutions and offer information about how the problem might be addressed, and keep the tone one of empathy and concern, focused on current trends in the industry. Bring together people who have the expertise to address the problem, and let them highlight the issues and opportunities for solutions.
Content Marketing Strategy & Ideas for Startups
Content marketing is a broad subject, just like SEO. Many business owners could use support in translating their technical knowledge for the right audience, don't consider themselves strong writers or marketers, or want some strategy laid out before they start a content marketing program. This is all valid, and can be confusing where to start. If you are working on a plan for content marketing for your tech startup or growing business, Cronicle offers free content marketing consultations to help founders and marketing managers plan out a custom content marketing strategy that's right for their business and industry.
Just getting into content marketing and want to learn more? Check out our brief series on Content Marketing For Startups: