Start up life isn’t easy. Everything fights for your small pool of dollars–rents, hiring talent, Proof of Concept support, customer acquisition–everything. Your biggest focus are on achieving Product-Market Fit and Accelerating Sales. Yet these two critical elements fall to the bottom of your priority list when it comes to budget allocation, especially if you are in Angel, Seed, or Series A stages. The most successful of the CEOs we work with have taken a low-cost, long-term, high-impact approach to achieving Product-Market Fit and Sales Pipeline development by investing early in content. Here is how they have made their investments in content be highly successful:
- Content builds Clarity: As any entrepreneur will tell you, achieving product-market fit early on or finding the business gap is the most important element in building a start up. Content helps in finding this fit. Some of our portfolio clients use their Linkedin profiles, blogs, and short surveys to constantly engage with prospects by publishing their thoughts to ask for feedback, or ask for surveys to be filled in. While we immediately jump to the conclusion that content is all about marketing our companies, these CEOs have resisted that temptation and use their network to drive clarity in their thoughts, leveraging non-salesy content.
- Content drives Context: Some of the most thoughtful product marketing experts we have worked with leverage content to build context in their product roadmaps. As products evolve with new customer requests, identifying related business problems and use cases, it is easy to keep jumping on to new product module ideas and very soon, we lose context of where our current product is and what we started out with. Content helps in anchoring context into our product development cycles. User stories, product stories, and buyer stories all help in constantly refreshing ourselves about our product history, and where we should be going from here. As you can see, these content assets can also be powerful internal and external marketing tools when used judiciously.
- Content resolves Conflict: Today, competition is from every side–same flavor products or solutions (even though we believe our architecture is better), pricing, company size and stability–and it is a nightmare for the buyer to make an informed decision, not to mention she is assaulted by “meaningful” content from all sides. We have seen CEOs use content powerfully in resolving such conflict for prospects. Some of them have used comparison tables, published thoughtful pieces on product-problem fits, relevance of their solutions–all to help the prospect make a better decision, not necessarily in their company’s favor. This has helped them gain trust with prospects, who appreciate such clarity.
- Content builds Customers: Not surprisingly, every CEO we meet asks us only one question: How can you help us build leads with content marketing? While building leads is a good outcome, building customers is an even greater achievement. Content solves a customer’s problem that your product does, only through a different medium. Beyond pipelines and MQLs, content can help engage prospects through their buy cycles, invite existing customers to new features, and provide platforms for sharing product outcomes in a positive way. These three enablers help gain new customers in a more meaningful way.
How has your start up invested in content marketing? What results did you expect and are receiving? Where in your sales cycle did content impact the funnel? I would be delighted to hear your feedback and include them in this discussion.