What would you do if you had unlimited funds for your startup content marketing? Lots of paid ads? Pay-per-click campaigns on the most popular search terms? The thing is, you would not necessarily get quality returns for that investment. In truth, some of the most worthwhile marketing you can do is essentially free.
You can sit down and write a blog post, create a group in Slack, or on Facebook to build community around your product. This does take time and effort, but if you do the grunt work yourself there's no additional outlay of cash Involved.
Pouring your efforts into content marketing helps translate your vision into a brand people relate to. You want your customers and potential customers to see the people behind the product and to know that you care about their problems and questions. After all, that is the goal of marketing, isn’t it?
Make yourself available (within limits, of course). Try setting aside some time every day to talk to customers, responding to their Tweets and comments on the blog. Try creating a phone number where anyone can contact you during your posted online hours.
You can use free tools to enable a variety of connections among the members of your audience. You don't have to rely solely on you providing that kind of direct support. You can create a community that enables your target audience to help each other and learn collectively. You can chat with readers of your blog. You can set up email alerts for mentions of your company and personally respond to what is being said about your business elsewhere on the internet.
Keep the focus not on your company but on your customers, their needs, and how your product addresses them. You will need to put in some time, imagination, as well as provide customer-centric content that addresses frustrating problems your target customers are faced with. And, of course, review your content strategy regularly to be sure you're reaching the right audience with the right message.
You might publish case studies showing how your products and services helped other customers solve challenging problems just like the ones they’re facing now. Include a link to the particular customer's website in case a potential customer wants to confirm your claims.
After you've had your blog up for several months and you've linked those posts to your social media pages, it's time to look at your analytics and see if there are any customer segments you may have overlooked previously. Also revisit your current customer segments for updated insights about what questions or challenges they're having that your product/services might address.
Looking at your analytics is one of the best ways to see how well you're accomplishing the task of positioning yourself as a trusted authority in your field by helping people address their challenges.
Always read reviews of your products and services and pay particular attention to those that point out areas in which you can improve. Thank people for taking the time to write thoughtful reviews, and let them know that you're working on improving those areas they've brought to your attention.
Publish content explaining how you've improved your products and services. Point out how these improvements solved problems your customers told you about. You should regularly read and respond to reviews so your customers know you intend a two-way conversation and not a monologue.
Remember content marketing doesn't require buying ads or costly tools. Nearly everything you need to do can be done for no additional costs to you beyond your time and efforts.
Use free tools for planning, starting small with a focus on tasks that will provide the best ROI. You want each piece of the content you produce to speak directly to your readers. You want to understand their frustrations as well as their desired goals. As you determine what problems your customers need to be addressed, you can examine how your existing content can directly target their questions and frustrations.
As you decide what new content to create remember there are a few types of content that have remained popular over time.
- Lists. It has been shown that lists help calm your mind by providing a sense of finality and by providing small pieces of information that are easy to process.
- How-to guides. Anyone with questions and struggles wants to know how to answer them and solve them. Provide how-to articles consisting of step-by-step instructions.
- Case studies. Tell the story of how your product successfully helped a customer solve a problem. You're teaching the reader how they can accomplish the same results.
As you document the content you've already produced you can focus on the future and decide what gaps in your content inventory you want to address, and in what order. You need an editorial calendar to keep your content organized.
Even if you are the sole producer of your content you should document your style guidelines to be sure you're consistent. This also provides a document to enable anyone you bring in to produce content in the future to adhere to your style preferences. There are three questions to initially address:
- What type of message do you want to convey? Are you seeking to be calm or audacious?
- What is the structure of your articles? What sections do you want to include in every article and how long do you want them to be?
- How should articles be submitted to you? Include all the formatting details to save time in the future.
You're ready to go produce the content that will build your market presence and engender trust in your brand. And you didn't need a huge budget to get started.