Content Marketing as a Startup: What to Focus on for Results

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When you’re a startup, you might be taking a content-focused approach to your business. But do you wonder what makes the most difference?

Mastering content marketing is about being ninja-focused with your approach to thought leadership. Knowing what really engages your community is the key to demand generation.

Natalie Riso is Marketing Lead at LTSE – the #1 VC on Facebook and Instagram and 3x LinkedIn’s Top Voice. She teamed up to share her expertise on startup and content marketing from a VC and Founder perspective alongside Jessica Li, Chief of Staff at Beacons and Venture Scout at Grishin Robotics.

During our event last year, Natalie and Jessica shared their thoughts on building meaningful relationships to create community engagement and winning content. We thought it was about time to resurface their wisdom as content is still king, and now with more traffic on the web than ever before, it’s important to stand out as a business.

Being a startup has its challenges, but content marketing is where you can truly shine – if you know what to focus on.

When starting to create content, new businesses can often make the mistake of being very brand centric – sharing only what they do, or what they’ve accomplished. A better method here is to ask how the content provides value for your customers. 

In the beginning, it’s all about building trust and nurturing that initial relationship. You don’t want to ask for the purchase straight away. 

Offer tangible advice – not just surface-level stuff. It’s important to drill down the details, and give actionable steps for your community.

For example, if you’re conducting an interview for your brand, keep asking your interviewee how they got to where they are, and the details of their expertise. It might feel repetitive, but you’re getting practical steps that your readers can take. 

Getting templates and action sheets is very valuable for an audience. The theory is great – but back it up with some steps that they can take immediately afterward.

Building community engagement

Making connections between people is really valuable for business, and the value is associated with you. You can scale and broker these relationships between this group. Linking content and community is great for B2B sales!

Think of ways to crowdsource ideas from your community that can lead to content ideas and opportunities.

How can you bring people together?

Perhaps creating a Slack channel or any kind of platform where people can connect and share. It helps engagement, plus you can crowdsource answers to your own problems.

Community groups like those on Facebook also work well, as long as they’re not heavily moderated or super-structured. That way they lose the purpose of real connection and feel too sales-like.

Tips for planning content 

  • Have an end goal in mind – think three months ahead, or one year ahead. Have a vision and build upon that. 
  • Next, reverse engineer the steps you need to take. It’s helpful to start with one medium and do it really well – maybe you want to do a podcast, or maybe you want to launch an ebook. Then you can really become a master at your craft.
  • Have a process for your content and communicate it.
  • Ask the community for what they want.
  • Think about how your content will drive returns in a meaningful way.
  • Having any way to iteratively improve your content is important. That might be a team reflection or an individual reflection.
  • It’s important to capture and qualify leads- your CRM needs to be your bible, so you can always track everything back from your content marketing.

Balancing your corporate brand and personal brand

When it comes to thought leadership, you want to be a magnet for great people. It needs to be a network volume game when it comes to building your brand.

Think about what you need to do for your company, and then what you want to be known for as an individual. 

What does your company encourage from a brand perspective? Is it publishing on LinkedIn or something else?

Make sure people know what is culturally accepted at your company –  for example, that they’re welcome to post on Medium, share articles on Linkedin or post pictures on Twitter.

To build your personal brand, you could write as part of an organization. This builds credibility as the organization trusts you as a contributor, and therefore you gain authority for both your corporate and professional brand.

A helpful tip is to keep a list of your achievements – for example, if you help a company get a customer or their first investor. You might forget some of your big achievements, so it’s helpful to note them down somewhere. Document how that content does, to quantify your impact.

Gathering data on your content shouldn’t stop you from being creative and trying things. It’s important to think outside of the box and be willing to try different types of content, such as educational or entertaining.

Test and learn

Depending on where your startup company is, the metrics for your content marketing are going to change. 

In the beginning, it’s going to be about engagement-  what comments are you getting, what is the quality of those comments – are people resonating with it? 

That helps you understand what content will convert later on. In the beginning, you’re testing out various ways of doing content. Think about your content as ‘what is the hypothesis I’m testing?’. 

Once you get that data and know what works you can tailor your content to get opt-ins and lead gen funnels, which all leads back to revenue.

  • Be really intentional with how you plan and post your content

Then you can iterate and really reflect. Document it and be intentional. Then even if it is a ‘fail’ you can show what you learned. Don’t write something off because it didn’t work the first time. 

  • Think about scaling your content for the future

Ask yourself- can I create templates for myself? Can I create relationships that I can go back to time and time again?

  • Content distribution and channel fit is important

Use that hypothesis testing for the channel fit. Sometimes it’s not the content, but it’s the channel you’re distributing it on may not be fruitful for the channel you’re utilizing.

Thank you to Natalie and Jessica for their fantastic content marketing knowledge. 

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