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.