Content Marketing is a method where brands use online materials such as web pages, videos, press releases, case studies, emails, and social media posts to generate interest and help fuel growth. It is one of the most cost-effective ways to organically reach and resonate with an audience, creating brand awareness and excitement around company mission and goals at a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising. Developing a group of genuinely curious followers is paramount to the success of a business startup, especially ones that are early on in the fundraising process. Whether building a following of loyal customers or courting a savvy venture capital investor, content marketing efforts need to be prevalent so anyone can quickly see the impact a brand makes. In this blog we’ll talk about when to do content marketing, look at the steps to a winning marketing strategy, as well as some key insights that are sure to pique the interest in venture capital investors.
1. When Should a Startup Begin Content Marketing?
Timing is an important factor in the success of any marketing endeavor. The question isn’t “why” you should engage in content marketing, but when! When a business or product is in the pre-launch phase, content marketing can help generate buzz and anticipation; think teaser articles, social media countdowns, or behind-the scenes looks at product development. During its launch phase, a well-timed press release, feature highlights, and customer testimonials can give a startup the initial push it needs. When moving into the growth phase, in-depth content like case-studies, advanced guides, and webinars can help establish a brand as an industry leader. During scaling, thought leadership pieces and industry reports will help further solidify the business’s position. Each phase has its own unique content needs, and understanding this can help allocate resources more effectively, ensuring content marketing efforts are not just well-executed, but well-timed.
2. How to Build a Winning Content Marketing Strategy
Before jumping into the marketing pool, the firm needs to ask itself if the business is looking to build awareness, generate more leads, retain customers, or begin fundraising, as each of these goals will lead to different approaches. The key is to identify the primary objective before commencing a marketing campaign, and then build a plan around it.
Identify the Target Audience
Startups will need to focus on what we call the ‘ideal customer persona,’ a creative rendering of the exact type of person who will interact with the brand. This is an amalgamation of the different attributes of the targeted customer the business is hoping to attract. Don’t stop at ideal, however. Close to perfect customer profiles are still incredibly valuable, and your ICP may evolve over time as your brand grows.
Perform a Content Audit
Before embarking on a content creation frenzy, startups should compile and analyze the digital assets they currently have at their disposal, or the lack thereof. From video interviews with executives, to case studies, to web page components, each piece of content, and its probable use-case should be noted and well organized. Once this is done, then a startup can determine what content they will need to produce to best help achieve their set goals. When it comes to digital marketing for startups, this is a good time to perform a formal ‘gap’ analysis, where a business analyzes the current state of their brand, the desired state, and the gap that needs to be cleared to get there. Often when startups begin, there are little to no assets on hand, meaning most content marketing materials will need to be created from scratch. This reiterates the importance of businesses’ keeping track of what is owned and usable right away and what needs to be created to begin a thorough marketing campaign.
Organize Content by Type
Take it from a digital marketing agency, well organized content is critical to smooth and efficient marketing plans! Without a clean, standardized place to keep assets, a startup’s employees will struggle to work efficiently and complete projects on time, leading to missed deadlines, and frustration felt by all. Individual shared drives should be created for items like photographs, videos, webinars, infographics, slide decks, podcasts, interviews, case studies, and web page content among other things, so it can easily be accessed and shared with the appropriate teams. Processes that allow for the easy flow of marketing content within a marketing team will alleviate much of the inevitable stress that is experienced in fast-paced startup cultures!
Create a Content Calendar
We can’t stress organization enough! Every firm executing a successful marketing strategy needs to have a thorough and articulate content calendar. A content calendar is a plan for the disbursement of content through various marketing channels such as social media, email, webpage content, press releases, and more. Each type of content should have its own calendar that serves as a plan to do things like post social media posts, send emails, and publish case studies. The content calendar is something that should be followed closely over time so that firms can stay on track with their aforementioned business goals. Additionally, marketing teams would be wise to resist the urge to tinker and adjust the calendar based on hunches and temporary circumstances. That’s not to say that a content calendar shouldn’t be reviewed and refreshed as new data and trends are discovered that could diverge from the initial plan. Sometimes events occur that reorient the themes and topics a business has been focused on, requiring additional research and planning. Ultimately, following a well crafted content calendar will save startups from losing sight of goals and succumbing to knee-jerk reactions. It most importantly creates a clear and concise plan to stay on track in the effort to reach specific goals.
3. Content Creation
Now that a solid plan is in place, the next marketing decision for startups is “Who will create the content that we want to share with our audience?” A business typically has two options in this matter: bring on a full-time internal marketer or marketing team into the company, or hire a digital marketing agency with experience in multiple facets of marketing. There are some benefits and drawbacks to each choice every startup should consider.
In-house marketers will be closer to the daily operation of a business, making them faster to deploy digital marketing efforts, however, they may also also need an abundance of coaching and direction when juggling multiple proficiencies. For example, when a startup hires a seasoned content writer to produce high-quality blog posts, but then determines the need to create, deploy, and manage multiple email campaigns is more urgent, then a need for training and supervision arises, as well as confusion and tension.
Digital Marketing Agencies
On the other hand, when a firm hires a digital marketing agency that specializes in multiple aspects of marketing, the startup will mainly have to spend some time acquainting the team with their brand guidelines and product features. A good agency will not have to be trained how to do their jobs, and the best agencies (like Estes Media!) will have the insight to help advise a busy startup in addition to producing contract services. In many cases, the ideal solution is a mix between hiring a marketing manager in conjunction with an out-sourced digital marketing agency that can work together to achieve company goals in a cost effective manner.
4. Content Distribution Channels
In the realm of content marketing, creating high-quality content is only half the battle; the other half is ensuring the content reaches the business’s target audience. To maximize the impact of digital content, it needs to be distributed through multiple avenues. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, are perfect for sharing bite-sized information and driving traffic back to a website where prospects can be converted into customers. Email marketing is a powerful tool for personalized outreach and can be effective for sharing newsletters, product promotions, and in-depth guides. SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of optimizing digital content for search engines like Google that generates organic traffic that can pay dividends over time. Ultimately, startups will have to lean on a mix of these channels to effectively reach the desired audience.
5. Metrics And Key Performance Indicators
Measuring the success of content marketing efforts is crucial for understanding ROI and making data-driven decisions. By tracking basic metrics like website traffic, page views, and user engagement, businesses can gauge the reach of their content and determine which steps to take next. Startups will need to look further into more telling metrics like conversion rates to see if content is helping turn visitors into leads or customers. Engagement metrics like the average time spent on page and bounce rates can offer insight into the quality and relevance of specific content. Computations like customer lifetime value (CLV) will help startups understand the long-term value each customer brings, and when compared against the customer acquisition cost (ACV) they will see if they are achieving a profitable ratio. Getting a firm grasp on these data points and regularly monitoring and making necessary adjustments to marketing objectives and milestones will set the stage for continuous improvement and growth.
6. Review And Optimize
For digital marketing professionals, resting on one’s laurels can quickly lead to disaster. The final step in every marketing plan should be to review performance and further optimize strategies to keep pace with markets and competitors. Establishing a feedback loop, or a way to receive praise and criticism, will do wonders in determining if communication efforts are resonating with the target audience. A startup will be able to gather all the data and feedback it receives and use it to determine areas that need improvement, and to chart a course of action for any issues that need rectification. An undeniable truth in marketing is that brands that listen to their audience, practice self-awareness, and commit to iterative improvement are the ones that stay ahead of the game.
7. Building Value For Venture Capital Fundraising
When it comes to attracting venture capital, a startup’s content marketing strategy can serve as compelling proof for the viability and growth of the business. A well-executed plan not only demonstrates thought leadership but also provides tangible metrics that can be presented to investors. If a brand’s content has been cited by major industry publications or influencers, it establishes your brand as an authority in the field. Metrics like customer acquisition cost (CAC), customer lifetime value (CLV), website bounce rate, and engagement rates can serve as strong indicators of a healthy, scalable business. In essence, a robust content marketing strategy can also show that the startup understands the target audience deeply and has an ability to attract and retain customers efficiently. The value that is built through content marketing can significantly bolster a startup’s attractiveness to venture capital firms, providing the validation that a brand is on a trajectory for success!
Curious How to Implement Content Marketing at Your Startup?
Estes Media is a New Jersey based digital marketing agency with years of experience working closely with everyone from tech startups to national brands. Our team of marketing gurus develop and implement content marketing, advertising, web design, branding, public relations, and more. Our transparent approach to results-driven marketing has directly led to revenue growth and scalability for our clients. Curious how Estes media can help your startup? Contact us today to get a free marketing plan and learn more!
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