Why content marketing and not SEO or SEM, you ask? Well, after a lot of experimentation and failures, startups have come to learn that content marketing is one of the most efficient marketing efforts. It is lean, mean and scalable, just like startups are. More and more startups these days are embracing content marketing like no other marketing channel.
Early stage startups have limitations: budget, staff and scale limitations, to name a few. It's a chaotic time, and everyone plays multiple roles. Big guys have marketing dollars in the millions. Early stage startups? Don’t even ask.
However, we’ve seen many early stage startups win with a solid content marketing strategy with zero dollars and mostly lean teams. How? Here are eight strategies for lean startups to win over the marketing channel with content marketing.
1. Get a Lean, Yet Resourceful, Team in Place
With a limited budget, it’s impossible to match the biggies and hire a big content team. It’s just not going to happen.
So, begin with baby steps steps. Find a bunch of talented folks in the industry who are hungry for growth, and give them a chance. Make them part of your team, give them recognition. Use their social strength, give them a platform to show off their talent and let them write, write, write. Getting started is more important than anything else.
2. Play Multiple Roles, and Be Helpful
When you start with a lean team, there are challenges for sure. When people are playing multiple roles, you might step on toes or get frustrated with another in the group. The right way to go about this is to be helpful to one another. Allow mistakes to happen, but be quick to fix them.
Specific to content, let a designer or other non-writer can submit posts. The end result might not be the cleanest copy (editor's note: hooray for editors!), but it will give your audience a different perspective.
3. Assign Roles Based on Strengths
Assign roles in your content marketing team tailored to the strengths of the individual. For example, there could be writers, seeders, promoters, reach out specialists and influencers in your group. Based on this, match up and assign resources appropriately. This will help you focus on deliverability.
4. Make the Most of Tools
Tools, tools, tools. You can’t have enough of them.
Make sure you try as many as possible, and keep an arsenal of them. A lot of tools have free trials, so you can experiment and see what works best for your company. SEMrush, for instance, can help you with SEO and keyword research for your content marketing efforts.
You don’t have to go for an enterprise-level account, but find a decent plan that matches your budget.
5. Embrace Reverse Engineering
One mistake many startups make is trying to reinvent the wheel. You don’t have to.
It takes a lot of time and effort to create new content. If you want to move fast, see what others are doing. See what’s popular and then reverse engineer it. There is a lot of content floating around on any topic today. Find the best ones and add value, rework it and step it up a notch higher.
6. Network Like Crazy
I can’t stress this enough. Find opportunities to network with similar-minded folks or brands. Use Twitter, Facebook and other social media channels to reach out to influential folks in your target audience. Talk to them. Introduce your product. Maybe offer a trial for a blog post so it's win-win for both parties.
You’ll be surprised at how receptive people can be when you approach them nicely and offer a solution to a problem their facing. Remember, if you don’t engage with your audience, your competitor will.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Try Something New
Always test. Instead of arguing over which is better than the other, implement multiple ideas and conduct testing. Test the hell out of it, and find out what works. Let the data speak for itself.
8. Embrace SEO
Churn out good content, and do it consistently. Being consistent can do wonders for your SEO.
Write content that supports your keyword strategy, and take advantage of content marketing tools. The investment is not as much compared to some other marketing channels, which demand a lot of dollars. But at the same time, keep in mind that many others are also doing it. Unless you keep consistent with it and add value to the eco-system, you’re just going to be one among the others.
So make a difference, and put in that extra hard work. The rewards will come.
Image credit: Flickr