guide

Content Marketing: A Guide for Startups

I’ve become weirdly passionate about content marketing. It’s one of those tricky phrases lately, because it’s the sort of thing people either a) are puzzled by, or b) eye-roll at—and I get it. But, when done well, creating and publishing content can actually be a cornerstone of your overall marketing strategy, especially because you can tailor it to your business’s specific needs and goals.

So you know content is part of your marketing, but maybe you don’t know exactly how you should be thinking about content. Even large brands struggle with this part of the plan; I know because I’ve seen it from the inside. I’m going to make it a little less daunting and a little more applicable to your business in this quick guide. 

Let’s dig in:

The Differences between B2B & B2C Content Marketing

First, let’s identify the difference between creating and publishing content for business-to-business vs. consumer marketing. Regardless of your business type, we recommend that all brands establish personas before jumping in, because you should always be talking to your customers directly. 

B2B content strategy is all about driving awareness and leads. This means you need content that educates as well as engages your audience to take action on specific behaviors. The key is having content they want or need. Typically this includes stuff like ebooks, data reports, webinars, videos, demos, events, or infographics. Give them a taste in your posts through social, and then make sure you capture the info you want about them—especially their email address (hello lead!)—before giving them full access.  

B2C content strategy is all about making an emotional connection with the people you’re speaking to so that they stick to your brand. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a single brick and mortar in a small town or if you’re slinging CPGs to the masses online. Take the time to determine your target audience’s values & behaviors (a.k.a. psychographics), as well as their basic demographics, and then create photo, video, and copy that speaks to—and with—them. Which brings me to my next point . . .

For both B2C and B2B, content publishing is really all about finding the right channels, and being consistent. Where does your audience live online? (Here’s where that customer advisory board also comes in very handy.) Yes, you can try to “be everywhere” and snag lots of eyeballs—but you might not need that. (Hint: you probably don’t.) The right channels with the right content are usually enough. Focus on high quality on the right channels, rather than low quality on all the channels. Establish a posting schedule you can stick to, and utilize publishing tools like Planoly or Buffer to streamline your efforts.


PRO TIP:

Are you post series B and need to accelerate your content? Explore high-impact tools like Social Native or consider hiring specialized companies like SocialFly (yay fierce female founders!) to get what you need.


Content Marketing Strategy & Production

Strategy

  • First, set your goals. More on that in the next section. 

  • Take the time to build a company/brand voice—a few keywords that define the way you speak to and with the market, that remind you of who you are as a brand. For example, a brand with voice keywords like “irreverent and whimsical” is going to have a very different tone from, and likely different conversations than, a company whose keywords are “classic and trustworthy.”

  • Define your “pillars.” What 4-5 signature topics will you come back to again and again? It helps if you’re not always selling all the time. (File under: Stuff You Already Know But I’m Telling You Again Anyway.) Make sure the topics you select are relevant and adjacent to the product or service you’re bringing to the market. 

  • Know your channels. We already talked about finding the right ones, but also consider what’s “owned” (like your website) vs. “earned” (like great press or a positive customer review) vs. “paid” (ahem, your ad budget). You should be driving people to your owned channels most of the time, so that you can learn more about them, and capture all the information about them that you need in order to optimize your marketing efforts for the long run.

Content Production

  • Once you have your pillars, build a calendar that identifies what media you’ll need to produce.

  • From that calendar, create a production plan for all the owned content you need. You may need to hire a project manager or content producer who can manage the process, and execute on tasks like managing photo shoots, or referring/hiring other specialists like videographers or photographers to capture what you need on a monthly basis. 

  • Think about what you can use outside of your own content, such as curating images from other accounts you re-post or re-share to your own. Don’t forget to give others’ their credit—that’s how you make new friends.

  • Optimize per channel. You likely don’t need a fresh blog post on your website every day, but a daily new Instagram post will keep your brand top of mind and help you gain new followers...because IG likes it when you feed the beast. 


PRO TIP:

Remember that you can chop up larger pieces of content—stuff like blog posts or video—into smaller, bite-sized pieces that get spread out over a few tweets (or IG posts or FB updates) so that you’re saving yourself time and resources. 


Goals & Measurement

First of all, remember to have goals in the first place. No joke, many companies roll out just hoping for the best—but then never have a benchmark to gauge success from. Start with considering your company goals. TIP: Revenue is probably the best one. Next, how will your content help to achieve that goal? How many leads do you need in order to meet your revenue target? If it’s awareness, how many impressions will your content give you?

Once you’ve determined for yourself what success looks like for your current content marketing plan, and are creating and publishing content on a regular schedule, be sure to track results consistently. Resist the urge to scrap everything and start again if your numbers plateau—because if you switch strategies on a whim, you’ll never actually know what worked...or what didn’t. Ask yourself what you’ll do once you reach that goal, because you might as well be confident enough to assume you’ll make it(!). 

After hitting your initial goal(s), step back and reflect on what you did well, what conversations your intended audience is most responsive to, how your audience may have changed, and what needs retooling—or to be scrapped altogether. While you can often simply optimize your existing plan, refining your content marketing strategy over time is what keeps your conversations with customers fresh, and worthy of (both) your time.


Jessica Kulick is the brilliant (also 5’2”) Content Specialist here at fivefoottwo marketing. She’s a marketing consultant, content producer, and yoga teacher based in Brooklyn, known for her versatility across a broad array of media. Follow @jess_kulick or connect with her.