10 Content Marketing Tips For Start-ups
Suzanne Stevens, BrightRock's executive director for marketing , shares her top content marketing insights for entrepreneurs.
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1. Nothing worthwhile is free
There's a misnomer that using social media is an easy, affordable marketing approach. Don't be fooled! It takes specialist skills, hours of effort and experimentation, and therefore money to run a successful content-based marketing strategy. It's a strategic and financial commitment to succeed in the highly competitive content space, so don't just jump in without proper consideration.
2. Know exactly who you're talking to
You have a plethora of choices on where to place your content. Define who you want to reach as narrowly as you can, identify exactly where you will find those people, and then select only a few of the best platforms or channels to place your content. Lots of content, in lots of places, reaching lots of people that aren't key to your business, is of no value.
The right content delivered to exactly the right people will have an impact. Today we have excellent data available, so interrogate the numbers to make informed choices.
3. Know what you want to say
For your content to be credible and authentic, it must have clear editorial pillars directly linked to your business, your product and your marketing strategy. These editorial pillars provide the strategic framework within which you can be creative.
4. Don't copy; create
It is important to have your own voice, tone and style. People have so many choices of when, where and what content they consume. If you want to compete for their time and attention, you need to serve them something unique. This is important if you want engaged consumers that come back for more.
5. To insource or to outsource, that is the question
If you possibly can, insource a significant portion of your content creation. Your content will stay on strategy, turnaround times are quicker in the 24/7, always-on world of content, and it can be more cost-effective.
But make sure you get out: Avoid becoming myopic and repetitive by making sure you expose your inhouse team to "outside world" experiences regularly.
6. You need a team of rainbow unicorn kittens
Harness as much diversity of thinking, talent, skills and demographics in your content team as you can garner. The world of content is fraught with pitfalls that can cause reputational damage if you get it wrong. The wider the variety of inputs you have, the more in touch you are with the different views that your content can evoke. It's demanding, it's fun and it's worthwhile.
7. It's not on top, it's inside
Forget the old-style marketing approach of placing big brand logos all over the place. It's all about the subtlety of what we call "in-content branding" which is captured in your tone, style and messages linked to your strategic editorial pillars.
Like a good news service, always think about "the story' first. It's the story that grabs peoples' attention.
8. Don't get stuck on repeat
Don't use exactly the same content on every platform at the same time. Each platform is used differently by its consumers, and for your content to perform optimally, you need to tweak and change your content to suit the platform it is being placed on. You will soon see that some content it better suited to some platforms and should rather not go on others at all. But, once you have a repository of on-strategy content, you have an asset that you can repackage in new and different ways on the same, or new platforms.
9. Measure, experiment, measure, experiment, measure
It's all about learning and iterating, and keeping an eye on the numbers. News, social media, stories are constantly changing: super-relevant today, completely redundant tomorrow.
It is an always-on, live environment where you learn as you go, tweaking and adapting your approach as you publish.
10. Like a great cake, create layers
Try to reach the people you want to talk to more than once on your key platforms with different, yet on-strategy content. We call this "layering", and it's an effective way of amplifying your message and business. When the right people see your message more than once in different contexts, they start to understand your message better, and your business becomes more relevant and impactful. "I see you guys everywhere", you will hear them say.
Suzanne Stevens is a founding director of BrightRock and heads up all its brand and marketing activities. She has over 20 years of marketing and communications' experience and has been involved with the launch of new entrants into five sectors of financial services. BrightRock's content-led marketing strategy is the subject of an international business school case study.