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A guide to content marketing for startups

22 Nov 2016

 

I have been working in marketing for many years now and it seems that each year is the year of content. Every major marketing company pushes out a report talking about the upcoming trends in the industry and this is the year for content. But surely that was last year? Yes it was, and it will probably be the case for the foreseeable future. Just check out this table from Smart Insights on the impact of marketing activities to understand why content marketing is so important.  

 

As we are getting more technologically adept we are inventing new and exciting ways to package our content into engaging bundles. I want to use this blog post to help new and small businesses understand how you can create a content marketing strategy for your business and identify some of the types of engaging content that you can produce.  

 

What is content marketing? 

 

Content marketing is a strategic approach to providing your audience with valuable information, intended to engage them and help lead them on a journey of discover towards your products and services. It differs from a product marketing approach as you are not marketing the product itself, but information to help educate your audience. The concept behind content marketing is that if you provide your audience with something of value then they will provide you with something of value in return (a purchase). 

 

What is content? 

 

Content can be anything that provides further information about certain subjects. This blog that you are reading now is a piece of content. The intended purpose is to educate you on the value of content marketing in business. I am not trying to sell you anything, but hope that you find the information contained within helpful and wish to find out more about the services we offer.  

 

There are many other types of content that can be used in content marketing. Here is a list of some of the more widely used types. 

 

  • Blogs 

  • Webinars 

  • White Papers 

  • Infographics  

  • Videos 

  • Slide decks 

  • Podcasts 

 

The list is pretty much endless, depending on how creative you are when packaging the information that you want to get across to your target audience. Here is a great article from Forbes explaining some different types of content in more depth.  

 

Why content marketing? 

 

Content marketing is so successful because you are providing value to your audience before a purchase is even made. You are not going in with a hard sell and marketing your product to them. You are providing information that is useful to them. Good content marketing does not feel like you are being marketed to. It feels like this company knows your needs, they know your pain points and they can probably help you solve these problems. Instead of pushing a product directly on your audience, you are demonstrating your value and engaging them with information they can use.  

 

Some best practices 

 

Although content marketing is amazing and widely regarded as the most effective form of marketing, you need to make sure that you are doing it well. If you aren’t, you are not going to engage your audience, and they are unlikely to become customers. Here are some tips for best practices when it comes to content marketing. 

 

Set goals  

 

Think about the point of your content marketing strategy. Do you want to build a mailing list? Do you want to use it as a lead generator? Are you trying to build your social media presence? Figure out the main purpose of your content marketing and make sure you are setting yourself measurable goals you can achieve.  

 

Know your audience 

 

This is a fundamental business practice and critical for your content marketing efforts. This is going to determine the type of content you push out, the channels you use, and the information contained within your content.  

 

The best type of content for your audience 

 

See why knowing your audience is so important now? Deciding on the type of content you want to use will depend on what is going to engage your audience the most. Are they hungry for lots of statistics and figures? Are they more engaged by pictures or videos? How much time do they have to consume content? Asking questions like this will help you decide what type of content you should be using. 

 

You should now know the best way to engage your audience. So my advice to you would be to stick to this and not use multiple types of content to engage them with. This is just going to take up your time and probably detract from the quality of your content. If you have a large amount of resources to produce multiple types of content, then go for it. But if you are a small startup and resources are tight, then just focus on creating quality type of content that you know will engage your audience.  

 

Frequency 

 

You don’t need to be pushing out content daily. But having a steady stream of content is not only going to help continually engage your audience but it will also help improve your search rankings. It will also allow you to focus your content on the niche areas that differentiate you from your competitors, allowing you to stand out from the crowd.  

 

What’s the next step? 

 

This for me is the most important question to ask when creating any piece of content. You can have the greatest and most engaging piece of content ever created but if you don’t give the reader a clear next step, then it is not going to help your business and you won’t be able to help them. Perhaps you host your content on your website behind a registration form to create leads. Maybe you include a strong call to action in your content to encourage people to get in touch. Look to the original goals you set when creating your content marketing strategy and ensure you are implementing the next steps that are right for your business.  

 

What’s my next step? 

 

Well, while reading this, you probably noticed a popup appear on your screen prompting you to sign up to our newsletter. If you found this blog interesting, then it might be worth it to receive similar posts. Feel free to keep browsing the website or follow us on one of our social media channels. Perhaps you have just started your own business or are in the process of doing so. If so, then you should definitely check out our mp entrepreneur service which will help empower you with essential knowledge about your audience and the market you operate in (and plenty more useful advice in other areas of business).  

 

If you don’t want to do any of this, then just go out there and start creating some killer content yourself. I hope this has helped get you started! 

 

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