Content marketing for startups

While we’ve been around for a little over six years now, we’ve only been using content marketing for a few years relative to the life of our company. We have however learnt a few ‘truths’ about content marketing we think all startups can benefit from.

Firstly, what is content marketing?
Content marketing is the process of ‘creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent,’ content to inform, acquire, and retain a specific target audience to drive sales. For us, it’s about more than just sales. We use content marketing to create a community around our passions – creativity, design, art direction, photography and anything that makes us think and most importantly brings humour and wonder to our day. You could say, content marketing is deeply personal to us. For us content marketing is telling the story of our brand. And it’s the way we connect with the creative world around us. One of the most rewarding takeaways for us on this journey has been the inspiration we receive from other small businesses and small business owners. It’s all about sharing ideas, growing and learning from the experience and example of others.

Just do it
Our first bit of advice is, ‘Make like Nike and Just Do It!’ It can be scary putting yourself out there and not knowing what the response might be to your content, your brand and product. Will people like it? What will people say? Will they want to buy my product? Am I doing it the right way? The truth is, you’ll never know till you’ve tried and we can say for sure even though you don’t get it right the first time, the more you do it, the more you remain open to learning and trying new things, the better you’ll become at it.

Be authentic. Be real. Make it personal
You’ve done your research, you’ve got your killer business plan in place, you know there is a market for your product or service – most likely because it was an idea that sprung from your own experience. That’s the story people want to hear. You’re a human being with human weaknesses and strengths and a compelling story to tell. In our opinion, people are more alike than different, so you can bet if you’re experiencing a problem (however embarrassing) someone else is experiencing it too. And, if you’ve found a solution then you can be sure that someone out there is going to want to know about it. When you’re real, you inspire trust, and that helps your customers connect with you and your brand. That for us is what content marketing should be about – making real connections that could turn into enduring and mutually beneficial relationships down the line.

Write it (well), and they will come
Content marketing begins and ends with a website that is easy-to-use, beautifully designed and with copy written to engage, excite and convert visitors to your site. Even if you consistently received awards for your impeccable English in school, that doesn’t always mean you know how to write persuasive copy. On a website, images alone do not convert visitors to your site into paying customers. The copy on your website needs to do three things (1) Grab and hold a visitor’s attention and leave them wanting to learn more, (2) Inform them about the unique benefits of your service or product and finally (3) convert them into paying customers. Copywriters know how to do this, and we highly recommend that you use the services of one to get the message across in the most economical and impactful way. Copywriters will work with you to find ways to do this while remaining true to your brand’s ethos, tone of voice and personality.

What are your images doing for your image?
Get it right, and your images will inspire. Get it wrong, and these can damage your fledgling image. Professional photography is sooooooooooooooo important, especially when you’re selling a product. We take a little liberty with spelling here because we cannot emphasise enough how essential professional photography is to your brand right from the start. Imagery and copy work hand-in-hand to capture the true essence of the image you are trying to project. There is just so much great copywriting can do with a shabby looking pic – hastily snapped with your iPhone. It can be expensive, especially if your product requires models, studios and specialist lighting. But we’ve seen it too many times, where clients have taken the cheaper route and ended up spending triple the original amount to fix the damage to their brand. Start how you intend to finish. There are areas as a startup where you will need to cut back, but when it comes to your website and your content marketing strategy the initial investment in professional photography, styling and writing services will ensure you launch strong.

Keep the right company
Most people make the mistake of thinking content marketing begins with your Facebook profile. It doesn’t. It starts with a website – well-designed, easily navigable, with persuasively written content. Social media has an important role to play – that of driving customers to your site where they will hopefully complete a transaction. But social media can be incredibly time-consuming. We recommend researching which platforms your audience is most active on and basing your decision on that and how much time you have available to dedicate to social media marketing every day.

Failing to plan is planning to fail
Content marketing takes careful planning. Planning well in advance is also recommended. Having a plan will help you to be consistent in your messaging – from the images you choose to the words you write, to the content that you curate. This paired with consistency in look and feel (images and design) across all your content marketing platforms – including your website and social media platforms – is what inspires trust and what keeps people coming back for more.

Even if you cannot afford to employ a content production company in the beginning, it is worth seeking out the services of a company that can help you to develop a strategy, assist with copywriting and photography to get you started on the road to success through content marketing.


Why your business needs to hire a copywriter

We have a running joke in the studio that goes something like this. If someone introduces a new word or concept to the team, one of us will invariably cock our head to one side and with a face scrunched up in confusion, ask, “What’s that? Can I eat it?” Firstly, that phrase captures two important things about The Pencil Box we’d like you to know – (1) we’re an inquisitive bunch, and (2) being paid in food has crossed our minds a few times. Food, delicious food drives us. We’re not going to lie. Lastly, this is pretty much the same quizzical expression clients give us when we offer our copywriting services. Just yesterday, while writing this post, I met a local academic who enquired about my profession. When I asked him what he thought copywriting is, I wasn’t surprised that he thought I practiced copyright law. All praise to the legal fraternity, but copywriters produce purposeful content that connects people to brands in a meaningful and mutually beneficial way. I hope that this blog post will dispel any further myths about what a copywriter is and the role one can play in your business.

So perhaps you’re a small business just starting out. How will you communicate to your desired audience what it is that you offer? If you own a store selling a high-value or complex product you might need pamphlets that explain the benefits in a way that influences your client to consider your brand above the competition. Should you have an extensive line of products, you could need a printed or digital catalogue with engaging product descriptions to encourage customers to invest in your brand. If you have a website, and in the digital age your business might not grow quickly without it, you will need compelling content or appealing product descriptions to keep your customers coming back. From the about section of your website to the clickworthy copy on your mobile ad or the attention-grabbing 140 characters on your Twitter feed (not an easy thing to do), a copywriter can assist.

I hear you saying, “But I can do that myself,” and I agree, you most certainly could. If you have the time and you’re a good communicator, then of course. But most entrepreneurs struggle to run their fledgling businesses and produce the content they need to promote and market their business to the public. You have great ideas, but sometimes, in the craziness of running a business, there’s not much time left at the end of the day to do the necessary. Now I’ve described how a copywriter can add value to your business and listed one important reason why your brand needs one. But just in case you’re not quite convinced yet, here are five more reasons why you should hire a copywriter today.

Copywriters connect with people
Good writers are natural researchers. They make it their business to stay on top of current trends within industries or to learn about industries they might know very little about. Equally important is understanding the human needs your product or service can meet. Understanding your customer means they’ll know how to reach them, wherever they are. They will know how to make your brand stand out in a crowded marketplace – a unique brand with a vibrant personality that people will be drawn to. Yes, brands have a personality and choosing the right tone and style to match it is what copywriters do.

Copywriters get people to act
Copywriters create content with a purpose. And that purpose is always to connect with people and to encourage them to take a desired action. Whether you want people to join in on the conversation on your Facebook page, click through to your website from your Instagram account, download your catalogue, or shop on your e-commerce site, copywriters are skilled in teasing out the benefits of taking that action, making it more likely that people will.

Copywriters can get your product in front of the right people at the right time
Digital marketing is a whole new playing field and one that changes frequently. Copywriters can produce search engine optimised (SEO) copy to help improve your Google page ranking and with time and some spend, get you to that first page. Google now ranks your page for more than just keywords. It ranks for relevance, how long people spend on your page consuming your content and how often and where it is shared. It is a time-consuming and slow job initially, but with a steady stream of quality SEO content produced by a skilled copywriter, you can improve your ranking over time.

Copywriters write to convert
It’s no secret that the primary job of a copywriter is to produce content that converts, that gets traffic through your door, to the till and back again. But the mark of a good copywriter is writing that gets them through your door, but without compromising on principles and brand values. Thankfully, we have moved on from the hard selling advertising of the 60s and 70s. Consumers today are weary of that kind of communication, and they are savvy enough to know when they are being manipulated. They demand transparency, and they want your brand to stand for something more than just profit. Smart copywriters know how to produce copy that converts to sales but to do it with integrity.

Copywriters spot errors
Poorly written content riddled with errors (even just one) can leave a lasting impression and not always a favourable one. Everything about your brand communicates, and a lack of attention to detail can infer laziness or a lack of authority on a subject, which in turn makes you seem less trustworthy. I know this might sound a little dramatic but punctuation and grammar matters and it helps to have a trained eye read over your copy before sending it out into the world.

A copywriter will work alongside you to help you formulate your brand message and ensure that it is consistent across all platforms. This way your customer is never confused about who you are and what solutions you can offer him or her. Now that you have all the facts to make an informed decision, get in touch with us so we can write some great copy for your brand too.



Unpacking soon!

Hello! We’re very excited to launch our very own blog so we can share our world with you! You can expect to read everything (well almost) about our daily doings, lots of design trends and tips, and a little bit of how we run our business (including the things that nobody tells you). We’re big on fashion and beauty, décor and daydreaming. You’ll get to meet the team and read a bit more about what we do and who we are with lots and lots of behind the scenes action.

We’d love to share what it’s like in our design studio and in our industry. We’re all about helping fellow creatives and start up businesses… and we have fun doing it.

Soooo, until we get our act together, we look forward to meeting up with you for a good laugh and a little work too.

Chat soon!