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If you’re familiar with content marketing, you probably know what the desired end-state looks like:
- A blog that generates the majority of your website’s organic search traffic as well as a significant portion of your sales leads
- Downloadable resources and educational webinars that add heaps of new email contacts to your marketing list every month
- Videos, podcasts and guest articles that help your brand get discovered in channels outside of your website
So how do you get there if you’re starting from scratch?
B2B startups don’t have existing content libraries to leverage. And, they don’t have the time or resources to burn on trial-and-error. With that in mind, I’ve put together a little roadmap: Focus your initial publishing efforts on the items below, and your startup content program will be ROI-positive in months, not years.
1. Alternatives blog posts
One of my company’s most reliable sources of content-sourced leads has been articles built around the phrase “[competitor name] alternatives.” (This article on HubSpot alternatives, for example.)
These articles tend to attract readers with very high purchase intent. Often, these visitors are actively evaluating a competing solution. But something is stopping them from pulling the trigger — high prices or missing features, perhaps — and they’re looking for a reason to buy elsewhere. If you can position your solution as being strong where the competitor brand is weak, you’ll have a good shot of turning these visitors into sales leads.
The trick with alternatives content is to be as honest as possible, and avoid going too negative. If your article is an obviously biased hit-piece against one of your main competitors, you’ll come off as untrustworthy.
Side note: Even if your company doesn’t have direct competitors — because you’re bringing an entirely new product to market, for example — you can still get mileage out of this content type. Do some research on how your potential buyers are currently addressing the problem that your solution solves. Whether it’s through peripheral solutions or manual effort. Then, write an article laying out the pros and cons of each method, with your solution at the top of the list.
2. Time-saving templates
We all want to take work out of our day and find shortcuts to effectiveness. Templates help us do that, which is why they’ve become such a popular format in content marketing.
My company serves B2B sales and marketing professionals who depend on email to communicate with their customers. We’ve had a lot of success publishing content around cold email templates, marketing email templates and welcome email templates, to name a few. Copy-and-pasting one of these expert-sourced templates will usually bring more success than trying to create something from scratch. (And it’s certainly faster.)
Template content is a great way to associate your brand with expertise and helpfulness. When you provide something that gets your potential buyers a quick win, they’ll be more likely to engage with your other content. They’ll seek out your brand when they need the kind of solution you provide.
So, what are your buyers trying to do quickly? What can you help them accomplish by getting them 80 percent of the way there? Brainstorm specific ways you can save your buyers some time. The resulting content will drive traffic to your site as well as help you collect more email addresses if you decide to gate it.
Related: Is Your Content Worth the Download?
3. Thought-leadership that takes a stand
In a crowded market, it’s not about what you offer. Everyone is offering a variation of the same thing. It’s about what you believe.
Thought-leadership refers to any content that involves a member of your team sharing original insights or opinions related to your industry. So many brands attempt this type of content, and most of it disappears without a trace. The reason? It doesn’t challenge the reader enough to be memorable.
When you express a philosophy or point-of-view that forces your potential buyers to reassess what they believe, it demonstrates that you’re thinking about their problems in an entirely new way. There’s the status quo, represented by all the market leaders in your category…and then there’s you.
Grab some time with your company’s founders and ask them these questions:
- What’s broken about our industry?
- What’s the most ridiculous thing that customers in our category accept as an unchangeable fact?
- What is our crusade? What do we want to change about the world around us (not just about our industry)?
- Whose minds are we trying to change, and what are we trying to convince them of?
The answers to these questions can form the foundation for thought-leadership content that makes an impact. And don’t worry about ruffling feathers. You want people to start talking about you, right?
A word to the wise…
Startups often make the mistake of trying to get their brand to rank for broad keywords before their website’s domain authority is well-established. For example, if you’re launching a new health supplement company. Your odds of organically landing on the first page of Google for the phrase, best vitamins, is extremely low. This is due to existing competition from established brands and review sites.
My advice is to focus on long-tail phrases for the first few years of your brand’s existence. You’ll have much more success creating content around more specific phrases. Phrases like, best vitamins for new mothers or health supplements to prevent the common cold, where the competition is thinner.
By the way…this sort of best [product type] for [specific use case] content is just as valuable for established businesses. My company still generates hundreds of sales leads per year from articles like this. They attract purchase-motivated visitors with a very specific requirement — an element that the product must address or else it’s a deal-breaker. I highly suggest putting some effort into this content type after you knock out everything else on this list.
I hope this helps your content program get off the starting blocks quickly. Connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know which other types of content have made an impact on your new business. Thanks for reading!