Starting a new business can be stressful. Unless you’re building a category killer, you’re competing in a crowded industry that already has a number of established brands promoting their products as superior. How can you make sure that your brand will be seen as equal, if not more desirable?
Simply put, you don’t have brand equity yet. What you do have, though, is a marketing technique that helps you build it, while simultaneously growing your exposure: content marketing.
In fact, I’d argue that when starting a new business, content marketing should be one of your core areas of focus. Here are 5 reasons why.
1) Establish Your Credibility
Let’s face it: online audiences are becoming increasingly cynical. They know exactly when a brand tries to sell them a promotional message or make outrageous claims. It’s not a surprise that 70 million Americans will use ad blockers on their browsers and mobile devices this year.
The key to cut through that cynicism is credibility. If you can prove to your audience that you are a valuable source of information, you’re halfway there to winning them over and gaining their attention. Blogs, a core part of content marketing, just happen to be one of the most credible and trustworthy sources of information online.
In fact, content marketing is an ideal vehicle to establish your credibility. By adding value to every piece of content you publish, you will become known as an important source in your industry. Before you know it, your audience will share your content and your exposure will grow.
2) Develop a Traffic Stream
Lightning round: how do customers who have never heard about your brand find out about you? Advertising is one avenue, but it’s expensive and suffers from the above-mentioned credibility problem. Instead, why not focus on everyone’s favorite websites? I’m talking, of course, about search engines.
Search engine optimization, in fact, may be the single most effective marketing strategies online. Don’t believe us? A host of statistics and studies will convince you otherwise. If you can land your website in the top results of Google and/or Bing, you will see a surge of sustainable web traffic.
As it turns out, content marketing is the ideal vehicle to get there. Through your blog and web content, you can focus on long-tail keyword that your audience frequently searches for, and gradually improve your rankings on those keywords over time. The result is a steady stream of traffic that brings long-term exposure to your startup.
3) Grow Your Contact List
Every marketer knows that a single messaging touch will not convince your audience to suddenly become customers. Instead, they need steady exposure of your brand and content over time, and through effective content marketing, you can get there.
First, build content designed to leave your audience asking for more of the same. Then, prompt them to sign up for more, either through an email subscription or a call to action that leads to gated content. The more natural the follow up, the more likely your audience will follow along.
Over time, then, free content and the promise of more high-quality content just a sign up away will significantly improve your lead generation. The more opportunities you have to provide them with content they want to read, the more likely they will be to eventually become customers.
4) Explain Your Value Proposition
Especially if your product or service needs more than a single sentence to explain to your audience, content marketing can offer another invaluable advantage. Rather than being reduced to a promotional message, you can use blog posts, whitepapers, videos, and infographics to explain exactly how your brand can benefit your audience.
If you cannot succinctly explain just how your product solves a need within your audience, you may as well stop trying. But if you have already established successful ways to communicate a more in-depth message to your audience, you can use those same channels for space in explaining the core value proposition and benefits of your business.
I’ve harped on this dozens of times before, but I’ll reiterate it again. You need to develop strong buying personas before you engage in marketing. As I discuss positioning your message and value proposition, you need to know who you’re talking to. Take the time to develop these personas by engaging in customer surveys, data mining of existing customers, and internal brainstorming sessions. Then take that information and sculpt your messaging.
5) Build Your Digital Marketing Foundation
Ultimately, your content marketing efforts should not have to be a goal unto their own. Instead, they can serve as the backbone of a more thorough marketing strategy that encompasses all of your digital efforts.
The same basic content principles can fuel your website, social media presence, and email marketing strategy. You can even extract pieces of content from one channel and use them in another.
In addition, as mentioned above, content can also be a lead-generating tool. Through effective emails, you can then nurture your leads to maximize your customer acquisition efforts. Finally, by providing high-quality, exclusive content to existing customers, you can increase your customer retention.
Best of all, content marketing is cost effective. Simply starting a business blog, creating gated content, and expanding your social media presence can be accomplished for nothing but blood, sweat, and tears. That is, of course, unless you want to engage the professionals.
Especially as a small business just starting out, you need to find a way to insert your self into industry conversations without spending nearly as much as larger competitors can. That’s what makes content marketing such an ideal fit.