4 Key Reasons Your B2B Startup Needs Content Marketing

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You’ve probably heard this phrase before: “Nobody was ever fired for buying from IBM.” He talks about one of the biggest challenges for most startups: gaining the trust that comes with having a recognized and established brand.

If this describes you, content marketing can help. In fact, companies that prioritize it generate three times as many leads and see 30% more growth than those that don’t.

If you’re not convinced that content marketing is for you, here are four reasons why it’s important for businesses of all sizes, especially startups.

Related: Here’s How to Improve Your Business’ Content Marketing

B2B buying habits have changed

B2B buyers now demand a shopping experience that minimizes their direct interaction with brands and maximizes their reliance on digital channels for information.

A recent study by Gartner found that B2B customers spend approximately 5% of their total shopping time interacting with a supplier, with the majority spent on independent research.

New buying behaviors favor established brands by virtue of their brand recognition and perceived authority. However, startups can compete by producing relevant and high-quality content. Studies show that 47% of B2B buyers say that thought leadership led them to discover and buy from a company that is not among the established leaders in a specific niche.

To ensure your content reflects the needs and journey of your buyers:

  • Survey of existing customers. Try to understand their unique journey and the dynamics of their buying team.
  • Download sales team statistics. Regularly collect and document the sales team’s insights from interactions with potential customers.
  • Conduct an audit. Audit your content, research and existing knowledge bases.
  • Get third-party validation. Use credible third-party research specific to your niche.
  • Adapt the content to the audience. Develop detailed buyers and map your content to their journey.

Content only works if it speaks to your customer. To help guide you, always start with voice-of-the-customer data to drive content strategy and messaging. Your feedback should guide everything, with industry research and empirical evidence supporting it.

Related: Content Marketing Quick Start Guide: 3 Things Your B2B Startup Should Publish First

Analytics help you get to know your target customer better

Today, analytics tools allow businesses to gain more insight into their target customer than ever before. Still, data analysis needs content to generate value.

The 100+ data points that Google Analytics tracks mean nothing if you can’t drive traffic to your website. All those social media metrics? They are also meaningless without posts that generate impressions and engagement.

Content facilitates a learning process that allows your business to survive and win. The more you produce, the more you’ll discover about your target customer and what motivates them to take profitable action. This is important for any business, but especially for startups.

To get the best insights for your content:

  • Set a regular posting schedule. Establish a consistent cadence for publishing your various content offerings (for example, weekly blog posts on Tuesdays and Thursdays).
  • Make the content cohesive. Cross-reference and promote your content offers.
  • Learn and apply. Update your content strategy regularly with the insights gained.

This last bullet matters the most and, surprisingly, gets the least attention. If you capture analytics but never apply them, what’s the point? So set up weekly team meetings that evaluate content performance and focus on improvement.

Related: Why Your Startup Content Marketing Strategy Isn’t Working

B2B buyers use large and diverse teams

As technology-based products and services become more commonplace, B2B buyers increasingly use large and diverse teams to make a decision.

Buying groups tend to:

While these attributes favor established brands, startups may get more consideration. How? By developing attention-grabbing thought leadership, you demonstrate authority and make buying teams smarter.

To improve the chances of your content resonating with multiple groups:

  • Develop different functional decisions. Develop content that targets the specific interests of different decision makers, such as content focused on business value for executives and technical design for software engineers.
  • Develop full funnel content. Produce a balanced mix of content that focuses on each stage of the buying journey (ie awareness, consideration, decision).
  • Guide different learning styles. Diversify the format of your content offering to suit your buying team’s learning styles and preferences (eg audio, video, graphics, written).
  • Improve your visibility. Make your content available where your buying teams go to find information.

The above activities depend on factors specific to your company and niche, such as your buyer’s product knowledge and sophistication levels. Your buyer, and what drives them to convert, should drive everything you do.

Related: 5 Tips to Launch a Content Marketing Program Faster (and With Fewer Resources)

Startups are building recognized brands, fast

Brand recognition is an inherent weakness of most startups. Still, that doesn’t mean they can’t become a household name in their niche quickly, with content marketing as their rocket fuel.

Fintech company Mint adopted a content marketing strategy that contributed to its rapid success. Before launching a product, he started a successful blog that catered to his target customer and built an email list of 20,000 subscribers. It only took three years for them to be acquired by Intuit for $170 million.

Building brand awareness is most important in the startup phase, and content marketing is the most cost-effective tool to accelerate the process.

To accelerate your brand building, take advantage of content marketing that can scale:

  • Take advantage of third-party outlets. Leverage channels that maximize your reach and authority (eg, featured articles in credible publications, conference keynotes, guest podcast appearances).
  • Get influencers involved. Leverage influencers to help market your brand and content (eg guest blog posts, guest podcast appearances).
  • Collaborate with partners. Collaborate with existing clients and/or partners to develop and cross-promote content (eg, case studies, co-branded white papers).
  • Bring content intentionally. Balance unrestricted and gated content to drive brand awareness and leads.

The exact content strategy you choose depends (again) on your buyer persona. But you should also consider your internal strengths. If you’re a charismatic founder who naturally shines on stage, a keynote or video interview can deliver the highest ROI.

Bottom line: Invest in a content marketing strategy

All signs point to a great takeaway.

Content marketing is a reliable (and much needed) vehicle for convincing customers to come to you.

So take a chance on it. Show the world why you’re better than all the job-saving IBMs.

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