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You’ve probably heard the phrase: “No one ever got fired for buying from IBM.” It speaks to one of the biggest challenges for most startups: winning the trust that comes with an established, recognized brand.
If you’re not convinced that content marketing is for you, here are four reasons it’s important to businesses of all sizes — startups in particular.
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B2B shopping habits have changed
B2B buyers now demand a shopping experience that minimizes their direct interactions with brands and maximizes their reliance on digital channels for information.
A recent study by gartner found that B2B customers spend approximately 5% of their total shopping time interacting with the supplier, with the majority devoted to independent research.
New buying behavior favors established brands based on their name-brand identity and perceived authority. Yet startups can compete by producing high-quality, relevant content. Studies show that 47% B2B buyers say that thoughtful leadership made them search and buy from a company not one of the established leaders of a specific company.
To make sure your content reflects the needs and journey of your buyers:
- Survey existing customers, Try to understand their unique journey and the dynamics of their shopping team.
- Download sales team information, Regularly gather and document sales-team insights from interactions with prospects.
- Do an audit. Audit your existing material, research and knowledge base.
- Get third-party verification. Use trusted third-party research specific to your niche.
- Content tailor-made for the audience. Develop a detailed buyer persona and map your content to their journey.
Content only works when it speaks to your customer. To help guide you, always start with data from customers’ voices for content strategy and messaging. Their response should drive everything, along with industry research and empirical evidence providing support.
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Analytics makes it possible to better understand your target customer
Today, analytics tools enable businesses to learn more about their target customer than ever before. Still, data analytics needs content to add value.
More than 100 data indicate that Google Analytics Tracks pay nothing if you can’t attract an audience to your website. All those social media metrics? They are also meaningless without posts that drive up impressions and engagement.
The content facilitates the learning process which enables your startup to survive and win. The more you produce, the more you get to know about your target customer and what motivates them to take profitable action. This is important for any business, but especially for startups.
To get the best insights from your content:
- Set a regular publishing schedule. Establish a consistent cadence for publishing your various content propositions (weekly blog posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for example).
- Unify the content. Cross-reference and cross-promote your content offers.
- Learn and apply. Update your content strategy regularly with the insights gained.
This last bullet matters the most and surprisingly gets the least attention. If you capture analytics but never implement them, what’s the point? Therefore, set up weekly team meetings that evaluate material performance and focus on improvement.
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B2B buyers use large and diverse teams
As technology-based products and services become more common, B2B buyers are using large and diverse teams to make decisions.
Buying groups tend to:
While these characteristics favor established brands, startups may get more consideration. How? By developing thought leadership that captures attention, demonstrates authority, and makes teams smart.
To improve your chances of having your content resonate with diverse groups:
- Developing various functional decision makers, Develop content that targets the specific interests of various decision-makers, such as content focused on business value for executives and technical design for software engineers.
- Develop funnel content, Create a balanced mix of content that focuses on each stage of the shopping journey (ie awareness, thought, decision).
- Target different learning styles. Diversify the format of your content offering to suit your buying team’s learning style and preferences (eg audio, video, graphic, written).
- Increase your visibility. Make your materials available where your shopping team goes for information.
The above activities depend on factors specific to your business and niche, including your buyer’s product awareness and sophistication level. Your buyer, and what drives them to convert, should do everything you can.
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Startups are building recognized brands — fast
Brand recognition is an inherent weakness for most startups. Still, that doesn’t mean they can’t become a recognized name for their niche fast — with content marketing as their rocket fuel.
fintech company Mint Famously Adopted A content marketing strategy that contributed to its rapid success. Before launching a product, he started a successful blog for his target customer and built an email list of 20,000 customers. It took them only three years to be acquired by Intuit for $170 million.
Building brand awareness is of paramount importance in the startup phase, and is the most cost-effective tool to accelerate the content marketing process.
To accelerate your brand building, take advantage of content marketing which can be massive:
- Take advantage of third party outlets. Tap into channels that maximize your reach and authority (eg byline articles in trusted publications, speaking engagements, guest podcast presence).
- engage influencers, Leverage influencers to help you market your brand and content (such as guest blog posts, guest podcast appearances).
- collaborate with partners, partner with existing customers and/or partners to develop and cross-promote content (eg case studies, co-branded whitepapers).
- Gate material intentionally. Balance ungated and gated content to drive brand awareness and leads.
The exact content strategy you choose (again) depends on your buyer. But you should also keep your inner strengths in mind. If you’re a charismatic founder who naturally shines on stage, a keynote speech or video interview can provide the highest ROI.
Bottom Line: Invest in a Content Marketing Strategy
All signs point to a big takeaway.
Content marketing is a reliable (and much needed) vehicle for persuading customers to take a chance on you.
So take a chance on it. Show the world why you’re better than all the job-saving IBMs.