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Why Content Marketing Is Essential for Tech Startups

Advertising & Marketing

Isadora Teich wrote this article


Launching and operating a startup can be tricky because there is no one right way to go about it.

Funding, inspiration, tactics, and goals can come from varied sources, and look very different in practice.

However, in the hustle of it all, especially if only a small group of people are doing the work of a whole team, it is easy for certain things that all businesses need to fall through the cracks. Things like marketing and content creation can fall to the wayside.

At the end of the day, startups are just businesses. All businesses must meet basic requirements to succeed in the modern landscape, whether they are a multinational corporation or two developer friends with an amazing idea.

They need to have the ability to connect with their audience in a powerful way. People need to believe in and connect with whatever a business offers enough to make that initial purchase or download.

How does any business, startup included, accomplish this? One powerful tool is content marketing.

So, What Exactly Is Content Marketing?

Depending on your professional skill set, the phrase ‘content marketing’ might not really mean anything to you.

Most people have heard of it in the professional world, but don’t really know what exactly it entails.

Maybe you already know you should have a content marketing strategy, but you have no idea what that actually looks like.

Let’s break it down.

Old vs. New

In the old world of advertising, companies paid TV channels and radio stations a lot of money to air their ads during programs they knew a lot of people would be watching.

This process was a lot more streamlined and simple in many ways then advertising today. The ads were direct and placed in all the expected places.

For example, showing movie trailers before movies in theaters was a marketing no-brainer. You had an audience of millions who were there to see movies already, so clearly they would be interested in seeing more films.

Now, this is far more complicated with online streaming platforms and the rise of subscription-based content.

Even way before the pandemic, movie theater attention was down.

Network TV, even sports, have been in a ratings slump for years.  Why this is happening is a whole other discussion, but for the purposes of this post, it means that traditional advertising is not as powerful as it once was.

If you want to truly reach people where they hang out, you have to do so via digital content marketing. From crafting blog posts on relevant industry news and posting custom graphics and video on social media, content creation is the new advertising.

More individuals are using social media, watching YouTube, and downloading apps than ever before. Apps are quickly becoming the main way that Americans do everything from shopping to making new connections.

Digital Content Marketing Is More Subtle

Once upon a time, the only way to successfully reach consumers was for companies to purchase ad space.

Coca-Cola would pay a celebrity to spend a minute drinking coke on-air, all the while talking about why it’s so delicious. The idea being consumers would see that and go out to buy a coke. It’s a pretty simple, albeit one-sided sequence of events.

Content marketing turns the process of selling into a relationship-based series of interactions. This gets consumers on board initially and helps keep them invested in your brand for the long run.

For example, say your start-up has created an app that helps people with curly hair find the right hair products.

Instead of simply posting links telling people to download your app on Twitter 5 times a day, you’d mix it up. Sure, you’d have some direct posts selling your app and announcing updates.

However, most of the content would be other things. Curly hair care tips, links to your dedicated blog posts, product spotlights, photos and video, even collaboration with beauty and lifestyle influencers.

This approach involves far more than just selling.

You need to understand the concerns, problems, and tastes of your audience. Then, you need to create content that appeals to them on the social platforms that they already use. All of this comes together to inform your brand voice.

In 2021, you are not just selling a product or service — you're nurturing your own community of fellow brand enthusiasts. Click To Tweet

A Powerful Example

So, what does it look like when a company uses the power of content marketing correctly?

One of the best recent examples I can think of is the Robinhood app.

In 2013, it was a small startup. Today, it is the main way Millennials and Gen-Z invest in the stock market.

Now, keep in mind, that Robinhood has some definite pros and cons, as well as a lot of controversies. Some seasoned investors even advise against using it.

However, it is undeniable that they have marketed themselves online so successfully that none of this matters. Even in the midst of their largest controversies, more and more people keep downloading it.

What Robinhood has done so brilliantly can be broken down into two basic steps. If your content marketing is going to be successful, you have to do some version of these two things.

Why Robinhood Has Succeeded

1. They created a strong narrative around their brand that strikes a chord with their audience.

Many young people have been through at least one economic crisis. They feel like the rich get richer, they can only get poorer, and the mechanisms of society work against them. They feel excluded from the ability to generate wealth, and like financial power is beyond them.

Robinhood took note of this.

Their brand story is basically “Yeah, dude, those snobs at the banks don’t want young people to get rich off the stock market, and charge super high fees, but we, at Robinhood, are here to help you.” Even their name alone tells you everything you need to know about the brand they have created.

In reality, this is not true at all.

Many traditional investment services don’t charge fees. Also, anyone can start investing for less than the price of a McChicken at any time, if they want. Many stocks cost less than $5. There is no automatic eject button if the market senses that you are in your 20s. However, Robinhood saw the collective anxiety and misunderstanding amongst young people when it came to investing and exploited it.

2. They utilized content marketing.

Robinhood understood their audience, and then they figured out where they hang out online. Then they went to them. They found communities on Reddit and finance and trusted stock content creators on YouTube and worked with them. All of this is part of clever content marketing.

Again, the important thing is not that you copy exactly what Robinhood has done. Simply plastering social media with your branding can be expensive and ultimately not get the results you want.

A big misconception is that you have to be active on every platform to build a following. That’s not true at all. You only need to be active where your customers are.

The key is to know how your audience thinks, know what problems they have, and know where they hang out. For example, if your audience has a thriving community on Instagram, go there first. Spend most of your time there.

The Many Benefits Of Content Marketing

One huge benefit is that it is much cheaper than traditional PR.

Smaller companies were largely excluded from traditional advertising based on price alone, but today the playing field is far more level. Anyone can have a Facebook page or TikTok account for free.

Also, you can pay Facebook or other sites for ads as a part of your strategy. While this is less expensive than traditional PR, it is more expensive than growing your following organically with effective content marketing.

Building a strong and engaging brand online can do a lot more for your startup than generate sales. It can nurture real loyalty and build a relationship between your brand and your customers.

With a great social media presence, you might even attract new opportunities and investors.

Remember, the majority of people make decisions based on emotion, more than they do logic.

If you create an attractive online presence that connects, people will be more likely to relate to your brand, trust your company, like your products, and support you.

Final Thoughts

While larger companies out there have the means to hire a team to manage content marketing alongside an extensive adverting engine, there are steps you can take to create a similar result for much, much less.

If you are a small new start-up that is doing everything yourself, don’t be afraid to start small. Check out this post on bootstrap marketing your app.

Figure out which social media platform your ideal customer hangs out on, and focus only on that one platform at first. Click To Tweet

Don’t feel pressured to post 1000 times a day. More than posting, you want to focus on interacting with people in the community. Interact with influencers of all sizes and everyday people regularly. That is far more important than churning out endless posts.

And lastly, whatever you decide to do, do it consistently and keep track. Keep track of your growth, engagement, and exactly what you are doing.

This is key to scaling and refining your content marketing strategy over time.

Are you confident in your content marketing strategy? Where are you when it comes to creating one?

Talk to me. 

About Since 2009, we have helped create 350+ next-generation apps for startups, Fortune 500s, growing businesses, and non-profits from around the globe. Think Partner, Not Agency.


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