What is the Most Effective Content Strategy for Startups?

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Are you trying to figure out how to best use your blog to attract users for your application, product, or service?  

The good news is that content marketing is an excellent strategy for attracting targeted traffic to your website. The hub for your content strategy will in most cases be a WordPress or Tumblr blog.

A blog has the flexibility to house product demos, explainer videos, podcasts, infographics and other tools of the content marketing trade. A blog is an asset that you own and can quickly evolve to meet your business needs.

The not so good news is that your competitors already knows about content marketing and blogging and are scrambling to pack their blog with SEO-friendly information.

No worries though.  It’s likely that your competitors are screwing up their content strategy.

But you, my friend, can out-hustle your competition by using your blog as a Sales Funnel Accelerator.  Stay with me – here we go.

The Sales Funnel

It helps to imagine readers moving through a funnel, a sequence of steps, before they purchase or register for your product.

There are many ways to conceptualize this funnel, but for brevity’s sake we’ll focus on three simple stages.

They start with the awareness stage.  They are looking for a solution to a problem and haven’t heard about your offer.  The goal is to get on their radar.

Once you are on their shortlist of options, they move to the consideration stage.  During this stage your reader investigates every aspect of your product.  They are looking for reasons to disqualify you as a contender for their time and cash.

After consideration prospects move to the purchase stage where they make their final decision about your product.

Your blog needs to support your prospects decision making process at each stage of the funnel.

Here’s How:

Getting Awareness What is the Most Effective Content Strategy for Startups? : Blog Promotion

Awareness Stage

Directly or indirectly partnering with other sites is the most effective strategy for getting noticed. because other sites have already won your customer’s trust and attention.

You need to find these sites and put your content in front of them.  Since you are starting from zero visitors on your blog, you have to borrow another influencer’s microphone for your initial visitors.

I recommend:

Guest Writing/Posting: 

Find 5-10 complementary blogs written by influencers and offer to write a comprehensive post for their audience.

Getting your guest post accepted may take a while because you are an unknown quantity but being persistent is a winning strategy.  Pay attention to the blogs guest posting guidelines and follow them to the letter.  If you get rejected, follow-up with a request to resubmit your article.  Keep at it.

Start A Podcast

iTunes has your audience.  Starting a podcast gives you a great opportunity to find, inform, and attract that audience back to your website or blog.  You can start a simple podcast or go all-in with a professionally produced podcast with all the trimmings.  Learning how to podcast is beyond the scope of this post so boogie on over to:

PodcastAnswerman : Cliff Ravenscraft is the expert on podcasting.  He can help you with equipment, equipment setup, show creation, and show promotion.

Smart Passive Income: Pat Flynn has built his business with effective podcasting.  He wrote a brilliant and comprehensive article on the best way for you to get started.

Write Question and Answer Posts

You are reading a Q&A post now.

These posts do particularly well in Google because they address a specific question asked by your target audience.

You can find questions to answer by searching forums focused on your niche, exploring Quora, or running keyword searches using phrases like “questions about [YOUR SUBJECT HERE]?”

List your questions and write a post for each one.  Use your audience’s words whenever possible to build rapport and prevent your titles from getting bloated with jargon.

Screen Shot 2014 04 25 at 12.09.42 PM What is the Most Effective Content Strategy for Startups? : Blog Promotion

Consideration Stage

Your content goal during the consideration stage is to get on your prospects product short list.  Prospects will use this short list to guide their next phase of research.  Their goal is to disqualify your product and remove it from the short list.  The slightest misstep will get a line drawn through your name.

How do you stay on the list?

I will often the Business Model Canvas created by Alexander Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur authors of Business Model Generation, an invaluable guide to any startup.

Business Model Canvas What is the Most Effective Content Strategy for Startups? : Blog Promotion

Read the book to get the complete explanation on how to use the canvas.  For now, we’ll focus on three areas: 1) Value Proposition, 2) Customer Relationships, and 3) Customers.  Simply, You communicate your Value Proposition via Customer Relationships to your Customer.

Here’s how to use content marketing to tackle each area:

Value Proposition : What value do you deliver to your customers?

Show readers that your product can deliver “relevant” benefits specific to their situation.   Customers see value through the lens of their own expectations and experience.  Your content, blog posts, podcasts, videos, need to cut through the clutter and tell a story of how your product can help in a demonstrable ways.

How?

Write comprehensive blog posts that answer these questions:

  • What’s new about your product offering?  Convince your readers that your blog is unique and worthy of a deeper look.
  • What scary, irritating, embarrassing problem do you solve for your readers?
  • Why do customers love your product?  What are the emotional benefits they receive when they open your app or use your product?  


Customers: For whom are you creating value?

Prove to your readers that understand the, their business and challenges.  Your customers have specific problems and they want to make sure you aren’t lumping them into some amorphous “audience”.

How?

  • Case Studies and Use Cases are your best friend.  Consultants hate when clients ask for case studies but customers rely on them because they show that you can solve their problem.

    Devoting a portion of your content to demonstrating how your product 
    “saves the day” is a smart way to keep your product on your prospect’s short list. 
  • Define the Problem: Surprisingly few startups use their blog to concisely explain the challenge facing their prospects!

    For example, I
    ’m constantly grappling with the clumsiness of editorial calendar software.  But I can’t precisely tell you why I don’t like the current solutions.  Something isn’t quite…right. The first software app developer that can tell me why I hate current tools and what I need instead wins my business. I’m looking for that blog post!  

 

Customer Relationships:What type of relationship can your customer expect to have with your business and/or product?

Help your future customer understand what it will feel and look like to do business with you.

I believe that customer service is the only sustainable competitive advantage in today’s outsourced economy. Anybody can copy your product but no one can mimic or understand the unique way you deliver service to your customers.

Use your content to illustrate how you serve your customers.

How?

  • Describe how your startup tackles the difficult, near-impossible, to please customers.  Show what you are willing to do to make sure you deliver on your promises.
  • Deliver content that illustrates your customers interaction with your brand.  Facebook did this brilliantly with it’s timeline videos that used video to show a year’s worth of a user’s photos shown in chronological order.  These video shorts showed the magic and utility of Facebook’s platform.  Can you do the same?

One more stage –

purchase What is the Most Effective Content Strategy for Startups? : Blog Promotion

Purchase Stage

The purchase stage is the moment of truth when a reader turns into a customer.  Be careful, however, you product is still on trial.  The purchase stage is where you make your closing argument.

You can pull of a convincing close by creating content that addresses the 5 Purchase Keys:

Key #1: Know –  What does your customer need to know to do business with you?

In my upcoming  webinar (sign up for it here) I use the example of me researching dog toys for my golden retriever Nala.  In this case, a dog toy company needs me to know that dog behavioral problems are normally caused by boredom.  With this knowledge, I will continue searching for a toy to alleviate Nala’s boredom.

Key #2: Believe – What does your customer need to believe to do business with you?

We’ll stick with Nala here.  I only want to do business with people who love dogs, specifically, blond, lovable, people-loving, golden retrievers.  Show me a blog post where you describe the dogs owned by the founders and employees will go a long way to getting me to do business with you.

Key #3: See - What does your customer need to see to do business with you?

Show me beautiful shots of golden retrievers playing with your company’s toys.  See is all about visual.  Pinterest anthem posters, manifestos, Instagram shots, video, are perfect mediums for getting your customer to own your product with their eyes.

Key #4: Objections – What concerns need to be addressed before your customer will do business with you?

Make a list of all the possible customer objections.

Pull in your sales team and ask them to make a list.  Send a request to your customer support team and ask for their input as well.  Now create a piece of content to address each objection. I love audio Q&A.  Video works well for this as well.  When all else fails, use a trusty FAQ page done exactly like this.

Key #5: Questions – What pre-sell questions need to be answered before your customer will do business with you?

This is the simplest way to seal the deal with customers.  Harvest every possible question someone would ask before buying your product.  Write a blog post answering each one.  These posts will do extremely well on the search engines and will be the backbone of your online sales effort.  You must do this.

Take it Slow

I threw a lot at you in this post.  Start from the top and work yourself through each section.  You’ll have a powerful content action plan when you finish.

Call me if you want to pay for speed and certainty.

Get to work rockstar.


Photo Credit: dongga BS

About Stan

Stan Smith is the Managing Director of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

6 thoughts on “What is the Most Effective Content Strategy for Startups?

  1. Andy Crestodina

    Nice summary, Stan. You’ve probably heard this saying: “People work with those that they know, like and trust.” Sounds like a funnel, doesn’t it? :)

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