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If you’re familiar with content marketing, you probably know what the desired end state looks like:
- A blog that drives the majority of your website’s organic search traffic as well as a significant portion of your leads
- Downloadable resources and educational webinars that add loads of new email contacts to your marketing list every month
- Videos, podcasts, and guest articles that help your brand get discovered on 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. Plus, they don’t have the time or the resources to do 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 positive ROI in months, not years.
Related: How to Calculate the ROI of Your Content Marketing Campaign
1. Alternative blog posts
One of the most reliable sources of content leads for my business 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 strong where the competitor’s brand is weak, you’ll have a good chance of turning those visitors into leads.
The trick with alternative content is to be as honest as possible and to avoid being too negative. If your article is a clearly biased hit against one of your main competitors, you will appear untrustworthy.
Additional note: Even if your business doesn’t have any direct competitors — because you’re bringing an entirely new product to market, for example — you can still benefit from this type of content. Research how your potential buyers are currently dealing with the problem your solution solves. Whether through peripheral solutions or manual effort. Then write an article outlining 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 the work out of our day and find shortcuts to efficiency. 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 great success publishing content around cold email templates, marketing email templates, and welcome email templates, to name a few. Copying and pasting one of these expert templates will usually bring more success than trying to create something from scratch. (And it’s definitely faster.)
Template content is a great way to associate your brand with expertise and usefulness. When you provide something that earns your potential buyers a quick win, they’ll be more likely to engage with your other content. They will search for your brand when they need the type of solution you offer.
So what are your buyers trying to do fast? What can you help them accomplish by having them go 80% of the way? Think of specific ways to save your buyers time. The resulting content will drive traffic to your site and help you collect more email addresses if you decide to shut it down.
Related: Is Your Content Worth Downloading?
3. Thought leadership that takes a stand
In a crowded market, it’s not about what you offer. Everyone comes up with 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 ideas or opinions related to your industry. So many brands attempt this type of content, and most disappear 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 re-evaluate what they believe, it demonstrates that you are looking at their issues in an entirely new way. There’s the status quo, represented by all the market leaders in your category… and then there’s you.
Take some time with your company founders and ask them these questions:
- What’s broken in our industry?
- What is the most ridiculous thing that customers in our category accept as an immutable fact?
- What is our crusade? What do we want to change in the world around us (not just in our industry)?
- Who are we trying to change their minds, and what are we trying to convince them of?
The answers to these questions can form the basis of thought leadership content that has an impact. And don’t worry about ruffled feathers. You want people to start talking about you, right?
Related: 4 Proven Tips for Building a Competitive Business in a Crowded Niche
A word for the wise…
Startups often make the mistake of trying to rank their brand for broad keywords before their website’s domain authority is well established. For example, if you are starting a new dietary supplement business. Your chances of landing organically on the first page of Google for the phrase, best vitamins, are 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 will have much more success creating content around more specific phrases. Phrases like, the best vitamins for new mothers or health supplements to prevent colds, where the competition is thinner.
Related: How to Identify the Best Long-Tail Keywords
By the way… that kind of better [product type] for [specific use case] content is equally valuable to established businesses. My business still generates hundreds of leads a year from articles like this. They attract visitors motivated to buy with a very specific requirement – something that the product must meet, otherwise it is a deciding factor. I strongly suggest putting effort into this type of content after eliminating everything else on this list.
Hope this helps your content program get off to a quick start. Connect with me on LinkedIn and let me know what other types of content have impacted your new business. Thanks for reading!