For us youngsters who become entrepreneurs after (or during) university, we need to overcome somewhat of a credibility problem.
This is an obstacle that can prevent you from getting meetings with potential partners and worse, limit your ability to raise funding. This is usually down to a lack of relevant work experience and quality references. As a young entrepreneur, you’ve probably got a 6-month internship under your belt and a long-winded thesis to boast about.
But I’m here to tell you that through a combination of content marketing and just getting out there and meeting people, just about anyone can make it in the startup world regardless of age and experience. Indeed, the emergence of social media and blogs has made everyone a publisher, enabling anyone to reach a large audience by delivering quality content.
What is Content Marketing?
According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI):
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”
Basically if you’re a business student, you could be writing your own blog, guest posting, recording podcasts and filming videos on how to make life easier for marketing executives. If you’re a developer, you could be doing tutorials on how to build awesome apps.
Whatever you decide to do, it speaks volumes about who you are! It shows you’re a capable person who can create and delivers results. It also positions you as an authority on the subject (which can be way more impressive than a university degree).
My point is, that with a little flair, you can create your own opportunities. But the real question is: How does it work to your advantage – and what other benefits can you expect?
5 Ways Content Marketing Benefits Your Startup
1. Credibility and Trust
The reality is that we do business with people we know and trust. Think of your online presence as a way of establishing credibility. It’s hard being the new kid on the block, especially when you’re young and don’t have a lot of experience under your belt.
When I started copywriting, my blog was one of the main reasons startups hired me. I got to spend six months working in Amsterdam, meeting with several CEOs and networking with startups in the area.
The blog basically helped me establish an initial trust with people I hadn’t met before. If they wanted to find out more about me they simply had to visit my website.
Make setting up a blog and being active on social media your top priority in establishing that trust. It could make the difference in getting meetings and rubbing shoulders those in the “know”.
2. Building an Audience
You’re probably all familiar with the minimum viable product – but have you heard of the minimum viable audience?
Brian Clarke from Copyblogger coined the term. Which by the way means: build an audience first before starting a business.
Think about this for a moment. By building an audience first – with valuable content – you’ll get a better idea of what people are willing to buy. In addition, you’ll get instant feedback on new ideas and you might even attract some talent to your team, perfect for when you’re starting a new venture.
3. Perfecting Your Communication Skills
The old saying goes, “practice makes perfect.” Yes, we’ve heard it a million time and it’s a cliche, but it’s still true.
Getting serious about creating content may feel daunting at first, but trust me when I tell you that you will become a more proficient communicator.
Om Malik founder of GigaOm – a leading blog covering tech and startups – refected back on his 10 years of blogging and had this to say: “When I was working for Forbes.com during the early days of the dot-com bubble, I learned a vital lesson – you had to write every day to be any good and to have a complete handle on the beat.”
With content marketing you’ll pick up a knack for getting your message across more succinctly and it will do wonders for those email pitches that you’re sending out!
4. Having Something to Show for Yourself
These days it’s not so much about what you’ve written on your CV or LinkedIn profile, but more about what you’ve got to show for yourself.
It’s easy to blow your own trumpet online but what sets the posers and the doers apart are accomplishments.
In the end it boils down to the references you have. Imagine going into a meeting or a networking event and being able to say, “Hey, I wrote an ebook that can help you!” Of course it doesn’t have to be an ebook, it could a series of videos or a podcast. But the point still stands, having something tangible to offer will set you apart from the crowd.
5. Build Relationships
Integral to any success you have in life are the relationships you nurture. Where startups are concerned, being well-connected is a major advantage. One way you can use content marketing for reaching out to opinion leaders is with interviews.
Simply send them an email explaining that you want to interview them for your blog/ebook/podcast/video etc. Most people are flattered and open to this kind of approach because it shows initiative and it’s also free publicity for them! Being asked to speak as an authority on a given topic would surely massage even the most delicate of egos.
For you, it’s a perfect opportunity to get to know them better and learn from their experiences. Another benefit is that you don’t have to create the content yourself. For a blog post, 20-30 minutes is sufficient time to get a lot of information written down and it’s the perfect length for a podcast or video.
The idea behind content marketing is the rule of reciprocation. If you give away something valuable for free, you can expect others to repay you with a similar gesture, which can mean more people are inclined to sign up as customers. The beauty is that you don’t need a massive budget to implement it. Yes it takes time to create content but what’s the alternative? Buying banner ads? Folks are more likely to complete NAVY SEAL training than click on a banner ad!
Photo credit: malik ml williams via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC