Oftentimes, early stage startups try to pursue organic growth because their resources are limited and focused on the development of their product or service. Content marketing has obvious appeal for founders and marketers in this position. By relying on their ingenuity instead of their bank accounts, they can create attractive, helpful, and conversation-worthy content for their targeted audience. In the process, they can raise their profile, engage a relevant audience, incentivize social media follows and email list sign-ups and, hopefully, generate revenue.
But I’ve noticed an unproductive trend. Some of these startups undermine themselves. They invest in the creation of content for the purposes of content marketing but then they do next to nothing to push it out. In many cases, it goes back to the problem of limited resources. They barely had the resources to make the content and the idea of actively promoting it or running ads is just an additional drain they cannot afford. But it’s also about the mindset. They opted for content marketing because they thought this would be a way to magically attract earned media and social shares. But it didn’t pan out that way.
Sometimes, the magic happens. Creativity, strategy, advantages, and luck all come together to make a piece of content go viral on the first attempt. Even in these rare occurrences, that is only half the story. Okay, so you’ve gone viral. Now what? Have you streamlined your UX/UI to maximize conversions? Do you have good product/market fit? Do you have the capacity to fulfill orders? Or, if you’re offering a service, do you even have the bandwidth to sort through and prioritize client opportunities? Long-term success depends on cohesive strategizing and a motivated sense of purpose. Luck and talent can deliver early wins, both generally speaking and with content marketing specifically. But this needs to be maintained and leveraged if you’re looking to scale up.
Some early stage startups never run into that dilemma. They fired their silver bullet and the daunting monsters remained. They quickly lost hope.
Should companies in this position push their stuff out there with commitment, and even pay money if necessary? Or, should they find a better method of customer acquisition?
Founders of an early stage startup may be eager to see some net profit. That is completely understandable. They’re sticking their necks out, testing a hypothesis, taking on both reputational and financial risk. If they work hard on a piece of content, diverting their time away from other essential activities, and then nothing happens, it sometimes feels like an invalidation. Not just of that particular strategy but of the startup itself. They may feel that their value proposition has been rebuked. They tried to say something, hoped for applause, and then heard a bunch of crickets chirping.
But when you look at all of the pros that can come from content marketing done right, it’s difficult to dismiss the marketing strategy entirely.
Founders have something to say. There’s a reason why they rejected conventional employment opportunities. Content marketing involves saying some of those things to relevant parties. If you say something interesting to them, they will probably be interested in your product or service.
Depending on the specifics of the particular business model, a startup may even have multiple relevant audiences. Different types of content can be created for different sources of traffic, prospects, and business goals. These days, many companies have moved away from operating in isolation. They acknowledge that they are part of a digital ecosystem, filled with potential allies and opportunities. It may even make sense to create content for peers, not just obvious prospects. This could enhance industry credibility. It might even pull in talent and investors. The latter could help with the resources problem.
But ultimately, it’s about mindset. Are you measuring? Are you adapting? Are you persisting? The technological, third-party tools are already here. They’re affordable and accessible. The rest is about you. And them. The people you’re trying to help. The solution you’re providing. The relationship connecting you.