Starting a business is exhilarating. Unfortunately, the “build it and they will come” theory doesn’t hold much weight and those overnight success stories you hear about are often the result of behind the scenes years of hard work. Simply put, startup marketing is a unique challenge often times because of the limited resources, whether it’s time, money, or talent.
So, starting from the beginning here’s the complete Startup Marketing Manual.
Before you start laying bricks, you need a solid foundation. A successful startup marketing strategy follows that same principle. Before you jump into marketing your startup, make sure you have the following bases covered.
- Choosing a Market
- Defining Keywords
- Defining Success
- Setting Core Metrics
- Estimating a Conversion Rate
- Setting a Budget
Social media is one of the most popular ways to promote your content and reach influencers. Since a great content promotion plan brings potential customers to your website and influencing the influencer can generate thousands of new leads, social media is invaluable to startups. Of course, there are a few tricks to get the most out of it.
- Choosing the Right Social Media Networks
- Defining the Best Times to Post
- Using a Keyword List
- Creating and Using an Influencer List
- Setting Up a Blog
PR remains a mystery in many startup circles.
When’s the right time to tell people about your startup? Is there value in getting early coverage on industry blogs? What message is going to resonate with writers? How can you maximize the press coverage you do get and translate it into sales.
The good news is it doesn’t need to be such a mystery. Fundamentally, it all boils down to this:
- What to say.
- When to say it.
- Who to say it to.
- Craft Meaningful Positioning Statements
- Define Your Startup Sensitivities
- Identifying the Right Writers for a Media List
- Creating a Press Kit
- Reaching Out to Journalists
With a blog setup and your PR in full swing, it’s time to kick content creation into high gear. Managing a blog and other forms of content can seem daunting, especially to not-so-great writers. Fortunately, four little steps will give startups the information they need to get serious.
- Creating a Topic List
- Knowing What Types of Content to Publish
- Guest Blogging
- Capturing Emails
Test and Iterate
By now, your marketing strategy is in full motion. Of course, no one gets it perfect on the first try and there’s always room for improvement. That’s where testing and iteration comes into play. Remember back to the core metrics and definition of success from earlier. Keep those two things in mind here.
- Setting Up Analytics Tools
- Measuring Against Benchmarks
- Brainstorming Creative New Ideas
What are the industry experts saying? What are the top startups doing? Here are three startup marketing best practices.
- Sell the Solution
- Have a Compelling Story
- Use All Your Resources
10 reasons your content will fail and how to avoid it
Creating content is easy. Creating great content? That’s much tougher.
Although brands, businesses, and publishers are cranking out more content every year, conversion rates aren’t increasing. Why?
It goes back to the first sentence: creating great content is hard!
Yet for all the changes we’ve seen, there are many basic things that are often overlooked by companies looking to generate traffic and leads from their content marketing efforts. Here are 10 of them.
1) Your headline is boring
Headlines are the most important element. It’s the first thing people see. You need to hook them instantly or risk losing them permanently.
- Set expectations for the reader.
- Convey a reader’s benefit.
- Include a keyword.
2) Your content is vanilla
Content that dares wins. Yes, you want to make sure your content is educational, entertaining, inspiring, or informative – but there’s no excuse for being boring and just sticking to facts or having the dull, robotic tone of a poorly written textbook.
Have an opinion. Throw in some humor. Show your own personality. DARE.
3) You make your content too hard to share
If you make people click on a “Share” link or button to access the ability to share your story via Twitter or Facebook, that’s an added step that increases the odds people won’t share it. Reduce friction for your users! Put the share buttons right on your website.
I’m still amazed when I come across publications and blogs that either don’t have social media buttons or make them hard to find. Don’t make it hard for people to share your stuff!
4) You failed to properly promote your content
For example, one tweet on Twitter is not enough. Have you tried pushing out a new tweet for the same piece of content (perhaps with different copy) every three hours to reach people in different time zones?
Don’t just tweet about your content one day. Tweet about it for a week. And it never hurts to promote older content on Twitter as well – only a small percentage of your followers see all of your tweets.
5) Nobody knows your brand
The old idea if you create great content it will be found has been thoroughly debunked. You won’t become the next Mashable or Buzz Feed just by writing about social media or pumping out listicles about things I won’t believe.
Established brands with existing audiences have a clear advantage – they have become a habit. It’s like trying to convince a Google search user to switch to Bing or an Apple user to switch to, well, anything else.
- Using display ads and remarketing.
- Running social media ads.
- Attending and networking at conferences or meetups.
- Speaking at industry conferences or events.
- Growing your personal network – online and offline.
- Teaming up with other brands.
- Writing content for large and influential websites, blogs, or publications.
- Building relationships with the media.
6) Your content is ugly
Break up your text. Make it look pretty.
Use short sentences. Try to limit your paragraphs to 2-3 sentences.
Use formatting smartly to make your text for scannable and less overwhelming to readers:
- Subhead lines
- Unordered or numbered lists.
- Bolding and italics.
7) Your content is too promotional
Content that is designed simply to promote your brand won’t perform well. People will see through it and be turned off by it.
Create content that helps your audience. Create content that answers questions or provides helpful information.
Content isn’t about you. It’s about them (your audience).
8) Your content fails to spark an emotional response
A great emotional response goes beyond just the headline. Your content must also make readers feel something, whether it’s happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear, or disgust.
According to a Fractal study, one of the top reasons people share a piece of content is to make their friends feel something. This is even more true for women.
Facts are far more impactful when you can put a human face on it. Tell great stories that evoke emotions.
9) Poor grammar and spelling
Poor grammar and spelling wreck the reading experience. This is why it’s so important to make sure you have a great editor and an editorial team that is laser-focused and dedicated to writing well. Maintain high editorial standards. Or else you risk looking unprofessional, ruining your reputation, and losing readers.
10) You don’t have a strategy
Content may be king. But content without a strategy is the equivalent of the town drunk. Make sure you know who your target reader is and what you want them to do after they read your content. Remember, you may have several different targets within your existing audience.
- Seekers: People who are searching for information. These are “top of funnel” people who may not yet know about you or your brand.
- Joiners: This is your community and your loyal audience. People who know you and like the content you consistently produce, so they’ve decided to follow you on social media or sign up for your email newsletters.
- Sharers: These are people who help spread your content through their personal networks.
- Buyers: These are the people who have bought from you or are ready to buy from you.
Having a purpose for every piece of content you create is a must. Your content strategy should help you achieve your larger marketing and business goals. So make a plan, measure it, and learn and adjust based on your successes and failures. But don’t forget: Content is the King after all.