How Content Marketing can Lead to Sales for Startups

Marketing a startup is never an easy thing to do. As you begin to think about marketing your startup, you have tons of ideas for what you can do to get the word out but not always the resources and battle-plan to help you succeed. You’re bound to make a lot of mistakes and waste money on things that just don’t work.

Over the last few months, I’ve been chatting with entrepreneurs and business managers, and I noticed that a lot of the startups aren’t getting their time or money’s worth from content. It doesn’t matter if you write your own blog posts or paid to outsource them because the 3 hours you spent writing that post or scheduling those tweets, is worth money to someone.

So if you want to get your money’s worth out of content marketing and generate results, here are a few things you should consider:

Develop White Papers

The data shows that white papers are an effective tool for B2B startups trying to stand out in an increasingly crowded market.  The biggest challenges as they relate to White papers are their difficulty to develop and the research that needs to go in them. They require a deep understanding both of the organizations product or service along with its application in solving real-world business problems. The key is to use the white paper to highlight the key real-world business problem the startups business solves and show thought leadership within your industry.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when developing White Papers:

  • Make sure that the topic you choose not only aligns with your brand but also aligns well with the wants and needs of your main target market. The development of truly engaging and informative whitepapers requires a huge amount of effort from your content marketing team and research analysts. If you cannot identify a topic that will spark the interest of your target market then you shouldn’t put the effort into this document.
  • Similar to writing a blog post, the title of your White Paper is one of the most important pieces of generating success from your content marketing efforts. They key to a successful white paper title, is to avoid buzz words and shock your audience by clearly identifying a need they have along with an answer. For example, AdAge launched an ebook in 2010 called “New U.S. Census to Reveal Major Shift: No More Joe Consumer” or “47 Stats for Remarkable Holiday Marketing in 2012” by Hubspot, an inbound marketing company.
  • Start with an abstract, an interest and a problem. Share an abstract at the beginning of your White Paper and follow that up by introducing clearly the problem and interest as it realtes to your target audience.
  • When you develop your white paper you must ensure that it’s key value is in providing people with new yet educational content. They must be developed in a format that is professional and easy to digest. I always recommend that if you’re creating a B2B white paper that it should  things like include market overviews, key trends, projections, thoughts on market evolution, relevant findings from third party research papers, historical data, and expert advice. If you can place all the right pieces together you will be able to present your target audience with the perception that you have proprietary expertise.
  • One thing that a lot of businesses make the mistake of doing with their White Papers is making them static text and nothing more. When you develop your White paper integrate the content with reach creative ranging from diagrams to actual photographs. Use sidebars, pull-out quotes, text boxes, bullet points, bold text, headers and lists to emphasize key points. All of these tactics will help strengthen your argument and make the content easier to digest.
  • Wrap up the White paper with a powerful conclusion that leaves the user itching for your next white paper. Be sure to also wrap things up with a conclusion that highlights the implications for the reader.  It’s always a great idea to make a point of view on how your target audience can use their new knowledge to achieve their business goals and objectives.

Now that you have all you need to start developing a white paper worth reading, you can start writing this piece of work. And when you are writing it, you need to also think about how you will use this white paper to drive conversion. You don’t want to create a White Paper that isn’t directly linked to driving new leads and new business. Make sure that you ask people to submit their email to have it mailed to them and have a handful of links in the site driving back to more or lead funnels that you have developed. Once you’ve developed a white paper and enhanced it with conversion, the next step is to share it across channels and get the word out.

Promote Content Regularly

Earlier this month when I first came up with the idea to write this post, I decided I was going to run a test. I wasn’t going to promote my blog in anyway shape or form and just let the traffic flow regularly. Then half way through I decided I was going to promote my content on a variety of different networks and as expected, traffic sky-rocketed.

As you can see, if you’re not actively promoting your content on various channels you risk limiting your contents potential. Here are the channels I try to use on a regular basis to promote my content:

Facebook: If you’re friends with a lot of people on Facebook who would be considered the audience for your startup, it’s a great place to share your content. If you don’t feel everyone in your network on Facebook is relevant to the content you’re publishing on Facebook, you should seriously consider developing lists. Facebook lists allow you to group specific people into a batch and when you share content you can pick which the list in which you want your content to appear in their newsfeed.

Linkedin: This is a channel that is made for professional content. If you’re blogging about cars or recipes, it may be challenging to spark a lot of traction behind your post on this network. If you’re sharing content that dies deep into an industry problem or something that is relevant to your existing clients or colleagues; Linkedin may be the network for you.

Reddit: This isn’t an easy network to go viral in but it’s one that you can definitely achieve success through if you’re developing the right type of content. This is a channel that is filled with a wide variety of people but have an interest in things like memes, fiction, social good or anything that is truly unique and captivating. If you’re going to submit a piece of content to Reddit; don’t be boring. If you are, you will fail.

Triberr: This is a channel I cannot recommend enough. It’s still in its infancy but it’s a site that is sure to provide you with an increase in social media mentions and shares. It’s essentially a platform that connects content creators with one another and develops groups (tribes) that commit to sharing each others content on their social networks. The members of Triberr range from people with 2,000 followers on twitter to people with 50K followers on Twitter. It’s definitely one of those channels no content creator should miss out on.

No matter what industry you are in, there are channels some big and some small with users who are interested in talking about it. Identify the channels where you can generate the most traction and promote your content to your audience. Do this on a regular basis and you will find an increase in visits, traffic and with the right website funnel; conversion.

Writing a Great Blog

There are a variety of different businesses who have started blogging over the last few years. The key to writing a blog successfully for a business is the ability to share content that is unique, compelling and built to share. There aren’t many blogs who are developing unique content on a regular basis and for this reason, blogging isn’t getting as much attention as it deserves. Organizations that make a commitment to creating unique, compelling content are the ones that are able to generate a significant amount of traction and success.

Blogging is a great way for businesses to create a new funnel to access customers, reaching a new audience, communicate their purpose, promote their services or simply spark an engaging dialog with your target audience and others in the industry. Whenever someone asks me what they should talk about on their blog, I have the same answer time and time again. Talk about things that will interest your audience and your industry.

A great example of a startup who used a fantastic blog to spark traction and thought leadership is Mint.com. Still to this day, Mint.com has one of the best blogs on the topic of personal financial management. Whether it’s creating a blog post about maximizing your benefits to how-to guides on reducing your debt; they created a platform filled with content that would interest their customers on a daily basis. This blog allowed for Mint.com to become a thought leader in the space as they quickly climbed the ranks even on Google for the best resources on personal financial management.

There is no question that OKCupid had to be mentioned in this post. Similar to a Gambino album, their blog is content marketing Royalty.

Some of OkCupids most talked about posts from them include: 10 Charts About SexThe Big Lies People Tell In Online Dating and Gay Sex vs. Straight Sex. One thing you can notice about these posts immediately is how captivating their headlines are. They aren’t watered down and they are directly linked to the interest of their target audience and the entire dating industry. Their ability to create content that was provocative and unfiltered was due to the fact that the founders embraced controversy and gave them free-range in developing these posts.

What OKCupid also excelled at was taking complicating data and making it simple. Not only were the able to do this through text and a captivating writing style but also through a variety of different visuals that made the data easier to digest. I mean, this one does that perfectly:

While the visuals are great for data representation, they key is the fact that these insights are truly interesting. A lot of people share stats about their industry that are quite boring or already known and that’s actually not going to spark any shares. You need to focus on finding statistics and metrics that have the ability to prove something that people have always assumed or kill a misconception that is held by a large audience. OKCupid was able to do this on a regular basis by simply digging deep into the data of their customer base and developing studies like this:

When a brand can use their own product to develop content it ensures they can provide something unique and special. That was another advantage that both Mint.com and OKCupid had over others blogging in their industry. They embraced using the data they had internally to develop content that would be worth sharing externally.

Conclusion

Remember, there are tons of ways you can increase the amount traffic to your site through content marketing. This stuff really isn’t rocket science and it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to have a well executed strategy. The suggestions above take time and effort but they work.

I know some of these aren’t as glamourous as developing the next Old Spice guy, but they work. Try them out… trust me, you won’t be disappointed. And if you are, let me know – I’d be happy to help.

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