What is Content Marketing
Content (videos, blog posts, infographics, ebooks, white papers, widgets, calculators etc.) is a free product that helps you sell your core product. (you should read that again). Which means, Content Marketing, is figuring out how to get this content in the hands of your potential customers. Every piece of content is a mini-product. Just like for your product, there’s content-market fit (i.e does it create enough value for your customer), there is content-channel fit (i.e where is your customer looking for this type of content, or what type of content should you produce that fits your customer’s normal haunts, and just like product, your content will not magically distribute itself, you need to put the effort into not just creating, but marketing or distributing it.
That seems like a lot of work, so why would you go through all this trouble? Because content can get you the undivided attention of your customer. Attention is expensive, and content is a relatively cheap method of gaining that attention. Attention = brand awareness or leads, and these two normally lead to sales.
Common Mistakes Founders Make
Selling more than educating. Content Marketing is a long-term game where you provide value and don’t demand too much in return. Maybe contact information if you’re providing white papers or widgets, but most of the other times, you’re creating brand awareness/thought leadership/mental association with problem or solution
Producing content that nobody cares about. Unless you can crank out content that can delight people and want to make them share (virally), it’s best to create content that people are searching for. Focus what they want to know, not what you want them to know.
Producing poorly made content. There’s more content out there than one can consume, on any topic. Unless you have something that can stand out in the noise your time is better spent elsewhere. (Author’s note to self: Dang it!)
Using the wrong distribution channel for your content type or wrong type of content for the channels your customers usually use.
Not distributing your content. Just like your product, your content won’t sell itself. You’ll need to spend 50% of your effort marketing it (Author’s note to self: Dang it!)
Not matching content with your customer’s lifecycle. You can be educating them about problem, solution, your specific product (compared with other products), winning them back if they’re lost customers etc. etc. - depending on where they are in their awareness of your product.
Let’s say you’re building a Scheduling/Calendaring product that helps small business take online reservations. Small businesses are notoriously expensive to acquire - think about it, someone teaching a dance class or cutting hair or running a restaurant started their business because they love to teach or be artistic or express their talent, they don’t usually like figuring out the latest digital marketing techniques they should use, dealing with insurance, and all the other issues that come with running the business. So most not actively searching for productivity or efficiency applications. Since they are not looking for you, outbound sales in the form of calls/emails are the usual methods employed to attract them. Since outbound is usually more expensive than inbound, and usually SMB SaaS products are not high priced items, content marketing is a way to decrease this costs. If you can create content that’s relevant to their problems (not your efficiency solution, in this case), you’re most likely to attract them as inbound leads who can be nurtured into converting into customers. In this specific case, pick a specific customer segment (say hair dressers only) you can write about the common problems they face and are actively searching solutions for (i.e how to attract more customers, how to make their business more profitable etc.) and offer helpful advice (instead of pushing your product). You content marketing strategy can also include interviews with other hair dressers, a listicle on common problems faced by hairdressers in NYC vs SF, helpful information about conferences, what’s the best ROI - cutting men’s hair women’s hair straight hair curly hair etc etc. Remember content marketing is not just blog posts, the same pieces of content can be re-purposed as videos, infographics, instagram snippets, a podcast etc.
Real World Example
http://reforge.com/blog/thrive-market-content-growth Reforge.com case study on how Thrive Market used content for growth
Drift.com grew their blog from 200 visitors to 27,000 visitors in under 10 months, and wrote about how they did it here.
Attribution, Agile, Analytics, Buyers Persona, Clicks, Call-to-Action, Clickthrough Rate, Conversion Rate, Google AdWords, Hashtag, Inbound Link, Influencer, Keywords, Infographics, Optimization, SEO
500 Startups: Content Marketing for Startups The 500 Startups Team
Content + Growth (Content ROI, Resurrection & Conversion) - Susan Su, Venture Partner 500 Startups
Content Marketing for Startups - Susan Su, Venture Partner 500 Startups