Despite the challenges of COVID-19, investors are continuing to back high growth tech companies. With 15 UK rounds of investment over $80M since January alone, it is evident that start-ups are still an attractive proposition to investors.
Yet, with 672,890 start-ups founded in the UK in the 2018/2019 tax year alone, ensuring that your start-up stands out to both investors and customers presents a distinct challenge.
And this challenge is only greatened considering that 58% of SMEs in the UK spend less than 10% of their revenue on marketing. For these new companies, there are significant stakes if they fail to build awareness, credibility, and reputability, yet many fail to consider how they can build a marketing strategy that enables growth in these areas.
For these reasons, investment in content marketing may be the answer for startups looking to attract investment and customers.
However, now that you’re considering building a content marketing strategy for your startup, there are a lot of factors to consider. What are your goals? What is your timeline? How should you allocate the budget?
To answer these questions, we’ve pulled together these top tips to help get you started on your journey and building the content marketing strategy your start-up needs.
1. Establish Your Overall Goals
One of the most common mistakes for start-ups is a lack of clear goals. Without clearly established objectives and KPIs, you will struggle to define an effective content marketing strategy. To address this, decide which metrics your start-up wants to target.
While 85% of marketers agree that lead generation is their most important organizational goal, you may wish to target other metrics such as brand awareness or audience engagement which are just as vital in the long term.
The easiest way to decide which metric serves your organization best – as well as to broadly establish goals for your startup – is to refer to the ‘SMART’ criteria: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-specific.
2. And Make Sure Those Goals are Achievable
While it may seem obvious that to avoid setting goals that exceed the plausible reach of your organization, it cannot be overstated how important this is in developing your content marketing strategy. While is it important to aim high and be ambitious in what your start-up wants to achieve, the reality is that good content marketing can take time and it pays to be careful and deliberate as needed.
Awareness, trust, and reputation are often built gradually, and being realistic in both the timeframe and scope of your campaigns is a necessary consideration. Setting lofty goals that exceed the capabilities of your team will often lead to disappointment – even if their campaign has been successful – that discourages future efforts.
3. Make Sure You Know Your Customers
To market your brand correctly, you must know who you’re trying to talk to which is why ‘buying personas’ are a major consideration in content marketing. As your start-up defines its audience, it is important to build this persona out to understand the demographics, career backgrounds, interests, pain points, and preferred content formats of your customers.
With a buying persona in hand, your start-up can build marketing messages that will resonate with them specifically. For most start-ups looking to drive engagement and sales, you should be attempting to answer the questions your audience is asking in a format that is engaging for them. Depending on where your company is on the start-up scale, a great way to do this is to interview your current customers.
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4. And Make Sure You Know Your Business
Likewise, you must know your business as well as your customers. In order to market your business to others, you must first have a strong grasp of it yourself. What are your USPs and positioning? What distinguishes you from your competitors? Have you priced correctly? And, above all, why should customers choose you?
These are key questions that your customers will want to be answered in your content and you need to have the answers at hand. Once you can answer these questions yourself, then you’ll know what to include in your content.
5. Establishing a Timeline
Good content marketing runs on a timeline. Time-specific goals ensure that projects are continually being pushed forwards and a timeline of activity keeps things running accordingly. When one initiative ends, you shouldn’t be bogged down by abrupt planning. Instead, you should know your next steps already and transition smoothly into the next stages of your campaign.
That being said, it is important to remember that things can’t always run to time. Certain factors will always be out of your control and you may need to adapt your timeline as you go along. And this is fine, as long as you continue to be realistic in what you want to achieve and redefine the timeline accordingly.
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6. Set Your Budget
Now that you have your goals established, it is appropriate to consider your budget. While you may want to achieve your goals as fast as possible, there is often a trade-off with what your start-up can realistically afford.
In the first instance, you will need a website with a blog and social media profiles for your business. This means hiring a website designer and purchasing a website developer, domain name, and hosting. Then you will need to consider the potential costs of content writing such as hiring writers.
You also need to account for social media spend as you drive traffic to your site. Later, you may even want to create in-depth blog posts, case studies, infographics, and white papers, dependant on your audience which all have their associated costs.
The important thing here is that these campaigns take time, and you need to plan your budget accordingly. These are recurring costs, and you shouldn’t spend all the budget in the short term if it compromises long term sustainability.
7. Get Ready To Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Today, the word “content” means many different things. Infographics, case studies, videos, reports, how-to guides, you could even start a podcast. If you’re a new company own it – create diverse content and get yourself known.
Mixing content types and experimenting with new formats may yield great results. Written content for blogs and social media are proven formats but video content may also push the envelope for your start-up.
We conducted some of our own research and found that 53% of B2B buyers found video was the most useful format of content. Closely followed by case studies.
As a start-up, there’s no need to settle for a single type of content. Get out of your comfort zone as that’s the only way that you’ll discover what works for you. But always remember the content strategy.
Everything needs to have a purpose and deliver something to your business.
8. Know Who You Want To Do The Marketing
Given the constraints of most start-ups, it is likely that your team is already stretched across a wide variety of roles. And most tech companies often lack dedicated writers with the know-how to build out content.
In these cases, it makes sense to outsource to a content marketing agency who can use their deep-rooted experience and skillsets to build a content marketing plan and materials for your business.
However, whether you choose to outsource or locate this in the house, be aware that your requirements might change. As your business grows – and its requirements for content marketing with it – you may realize that there are better options available that could deliver more for your start-up.
9. Test, Measure
The content marketing strategy should be evidence-based. Looking at the campaigns you have already run, you should be able to see what has worked effectively and what didn’t meet expectations. You can use this information to guide your future decision making.
On a basic level, you can simply track your website visits. However, the more in-depth and granular your metrics, the more valuable your insights become. Above all, make sure you are consistently measuring the performance of your strategy – no matter the size – and that your team can see the impact of each campaign.
Make sure you have goals set up in Google Analytics to track key metrics, this could be eBook downloads, contact form submissions, etc.
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Interactive content such as assessments, videos, and calculators will set you apart from the pack and increase your likelihood that others will link to your content, resulting in higher rankings.
10. Review and Optimize
As a start-up, it’s hard to know straight away what’s going to work for you and you will need to experiment, but this process must ultimately lead to optimization. Make sure you are giving yourself a review every six months or – at the very least – annually. Use these reviews to look back on what has worked and then look forward to how you can build on these successes.