Starting from zero with content marketing

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Starting from zero with content marketing

How to build a (scalable) content marketing program from scratch

Getting started with content marketing isn’t easy. As we talk about a lot – not only do you have to figure out what to write, and write it, but you also have to worry about distribution channels, and making sure you content you create adds people to your ongoing audience. In addition to all the logistics, you have to figure out the specific strategies that will work for your company. And you have to get the content created, which means paying for high-quality writing, or doing it yourself!

And this is before you know if anything you’re going to do will actually work.

Still, content marketing is a good place to start. Here’s why:

  • A content library is free, and it’s an asset you own and can improve over time (more here). With paid marketing, when you stop spending, the lead flow stops. Plus, while paid is faster, you’re still looking at a huge investment to figure it out and make it work.
  • Having even a small amount of content on your site helps you establish a point of view that you can use for marketing materials, with customers, with press, and so on.
  • We haven’t seen a B2B brand be successful without high-quality content. It’s helpful to invest early.

But if you have no money, no team, and no strategy (yet), it’s daunting to start from scratch. So here’s what we suggest:

  • Start by actively participating in the communities where your customers hang out. Let’s say you build software to help sales reps close deals faster. Where do sales reps hang out? What about sales enablement managers? Join their public Slack communities, connect with them on social, and answer their questions. Build a spreadsheet of conversations that are happening that you can be helpful – not promotional – in.
  • Use your existing expertise in these communities. Answer questions, engage in short conversations – but provide value, not promotion. (Yes, we’re saying this twice).
  • And of course, talk to your existing customers and find out what questions they still have.

Once you have some rhythm to your engagement, you can start producing a very modest number of high-quality articles.

  • If you can produce 1 - 2 pieces a month that are of significant length (let’s just say 1,000 words?) and help your customer solve a specific problem, that’s a good place to start. Consistency is key. Less frequent but more consistent is better.
  • Base the topics for these articles on problems that you know your customers are having. Some of this information will be from the conversations you’re having about your area of expertise.
  • Take each article you create, and promote it as much as you can. (I’m assuming you’ve taken an initial step of building your audience as much as you can, too.) Social is important, but the best places are often smaller groups where your users are congregating. And what about your existing customers?
  • Use each article to build subsequent articles. Try to pick an area where you can develop some topic expertise and build for depth first, not breadth.

These steps are free, not terribly time-consuming, and can help you build a minimum viable content marketing and promotion strategy.

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