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A lot of startup companies are driven by people with deep technology expertise, for example, programmers or engineers, who had a great idea about a product or service. They started developing a product or service in the hopes of ultimately being able to serve their audience. The challenge that nearly every startup faces is how you go about attracting and getting the attention of prospective customers, when you have so little budget to work with.
Start by building your website
From my own experience, my advice to startups is to create a website, even if your product or service isn’t at market yet. Get your domain up and get at least a couple pages on the website. Get an ability for prospective customers to get added to your newsletter and spend your first marketing dollars on content marketing.
It pays not to wait
Content marketing, by its very nature, takes anywhere from three to nine months (on average, 6 months) to be able to start getting traction. If you’re early on with your company and you haven’t yet launched your product or service, that lead time that you spend by building up your content marketing in your domain presence within the internet will be invaluable to use when you do launch. When it comes time to launch your new offering, you’ll already have an established presence online.
The number one mistake that startups make worldwide: They wait until their product is launched before they start doing any marketing. I would contend that startups should start marketing the day that the company becomes incorporated. This is step one.
Start with a Blog page
Step two is determining what kind of content you should create and how you should do it. The purpose is to get your content indexed within the search engines so that it can start ranking. You really need to publish at least once a week. Something that I recommend is that you get a Blog started on your website. Even if your site only has two or three pages, such as a Home page and About Us or Contact Us, there should be one more page called Blog. If you are opposed to calling it “Blog” other names could be “Insights”, “News”, “Thought Leadership”… you get the idea.
By establishing a repetitive cadence of publishing new content at least weekly, Google or the other search engines will start recognizing that you exist. They will start including those pages within their index for their search engine.
Keep in mind, you’re not going to show up high on any of the keyword terms that you aim to achieve for your business, but at least you are getting indexed. You have built up an initial reputation. Once you launch your product and/or service, then you should rapidly increase your cadence on content marketing. Your blog cadence should ultimately get to once a day. You should also make sure that you have your social media presence. So if you’re a B2B company, you should be on LinkedIn and Twitter. If you’re a B2C company, you should be on Twitter and Facebook, and/or potentially Instagram.
There are software plugins within WordPress that most companies start with at their website that automatically take your blog posts, create snippets of it, and publish it to your social media accounts. I strongly recommend that startups create a system to effectively promote their content to their website and across their social media channels. Once they’ve gone and started that baseline, then they’ll benefit from some initial traction.
Create your buyer personas
Now, let’s talk about what is it that you should write about (or have written for you). Before you could even do that, you have to understand who your target audience is. Most companies, especially startups, will have one or more target audiences whom they’re trying to go after. It is actually true for startups because they haven’t quite narrowed down who is the right buyer of their product and service. In many instances, the startups haven’t even launched a product or service yet.
What we recommend is that you create a persona for each and every audience that you’re going after. That persona will include who it is that you’re targeting, their motivations, what they’re like (demographically or otherwise), and what it is that you want to convey to these people that is of importance to them or solves their pain points.
At Tempesta Media, these style guides for content or personas are what we call our Voice Profile. We include these to our assignments for every single one of our customers. It’s the most basic thing that needs to get into place before you can really start any content marketing.
Start with the right keywords
The next thing that you’ll need to do is you’ll need to identify the keyword phrases to target and ultimately rank for on the search engines.
For example, if you’re a credit card company, you don’t go trying to say “I want to rank number one in the world for credit cards.” It’s just not going to happen right off the bat. Pick some two-, three-, or four-word keyword phrases that have relatively low competition and search. You can start to rank by creating content that specifically targets those keyword phrases and appeal to the audiences who would be interested in those.
That’s where startups should start within the first three to six months of launching their content marketing. Get some early successes with these smaller keyword phrases because when you get successes with those that you build up, you gain more authority within the search engines, which means more traffic to your site. It also means that it’s going to be easier for you to rank on the higher keyword phrases or the ones that have higher volume or competition. Content marketing best practices for SEO also recommend that the the keyword phrase be in your meta title and descriptions as well.
Geotags matter, sometimes
If you do a geographic attack to it, like for example, a “lending company in Chicago”, that’s actually a whole different keyword phrase. When using geotags, best practices depend on the type of product or service you’re offering. Let’s say you’re a dry cleaner. Having the geographic appendage added to your keyword phrases is absolutely imperative because if you’re a dry cleaner in Chicago, you don’t want to attract visitors that are from Texas.
Take your customers to the next step
The next step that a customer needs to do to get their content marketing strategy off the ground is to determine what action that you want your visitor to take. In marketing terms, this is called the buyer’s journey.
Once someone is on your website and has read an article – it is time to determine what they should do next. If you’re a startup and you don’t have your product in the market, start off with something that is very low commitment from the visitors perspective. You can ask them if they want to sign up for a newsletter at the end of the article or recommend other articles that may be of value to them. This builds your credibility, keeps the prospect engage, and serves as another relationship touch point.
The more content someone reads, the more they’re going to gain an affinity toward your company. They will also positively view your company and be more likely to buy from you in the future. So at the end of each piece of content, there should be some sort of call to action. At the start, it should be something as simple as “here are some other articles that you might be interested in” or “download this e-guide on how to do X Y and Z” or “sign up for our newsletter to get timely briefings on content marketing.”
There always should be a call to action because even though start ups have numerous priorities and initiatives, there’s nothing wrong with building up a newsletter and an email list early on. There’s nothing wrong with building up an affinity with your prospective buyers.
There was one company that didn’t launch for 12 months. Within that 12-month period, they built up excitement about their potential launch through their website. They added hype right on the front page “Sign up here to be informed when we will launch.” So almost 25,000 people had signed up for their solution before it even was launched. The moment that launched, they had tremendous success right out the door because of the material that they used to build up the momentum.
Repurpose old content
The last thing that startups tend to tend to overlook is repurposing the content that’s being created. When sharing content, you can use snippets when posting in your social media networks. The other thing that’s incredibly effective as well is using micro influencer marketing to start getting the word out about what you’re talking about.
Tempesta Media offers a micro influencer marketing solution, which is very inexpensive from a budget perspective. It could be quite effective when used in conjunction with a content marketing or your SEO program.