We’ve covered the importance of brand development for startups and the role of storytelling in connecting with potential customers. Now we are going to turn it around and talk content marketing – how to turn your stories into sales.
The term “content” covers a lot of bases. It can be anything from a blog post, an ebook, a video, a case study, the list goes on and on. Developing a content strategy means figuring out how to deliver just the right amount of content to your prospective customers in just the right place, at just the right time.
For today’s consumers, with high expectation and short attention spans, getting content right is critical part building a business.
We sat down with Milestone Integrated Marketing Partner, Stacy Barr to learn how he feels about content marketing and how he recommends his client implement content into their overall strategy.
Clinton: How important do you feel is content generation for a business?
Stacy: Crucial. We live in a world of click bait, top 5 lists and such. We are consuming content on an ongoing basis. Our appetite for content is increasing but the depth of the level which we want to engage with each piece of content is decreasing. No one wants to read a twenty-page white paper. What we are focusing on right now is a lot of content generation that is focused on quick two minute, three minute, four minute reads. You get the story, you get the idea and then you’re out.
The days of twenty page white papers, fifteen page brochures and just shoving it down people’s throat at the start of their purchase journey or when they are just getting interested, are not only dead, they should have been dead a long time ago.
Clinton: Let’s talk about that. In a digital journey it is probably not a good idea to try to bank on someone just reading your white paper and becoming a qualified lead, interested in your brand or your product. So should startups design their content strategy and change what they deliver along the sales journey.
Stacy B: The great thing about content is that it applies differently to different levels of the purchase chain. For example, If I just met you, I would never start telling you my most intimate details of who I am. I’d start at a high level. It’s the same as if you are trying to sell something to somebody. At the top level of that purchase funnel, tell stories, give them that sixty second pitch. If they are interested take them on a journey, start feeding them specific content that matches their interest. When I’m ready to purchase, the content you are going to give me is going to be different from when you’re just trying to get my interest, because my engagement with you as a brand is going to be totally different.
Also, if you are a young brand and you’re trying to get traction you don’t always have to create your own content but you can utilize existing content to go back and communicate your point of view. You can comment in an interesting, engaging way which starts to create conversations.
Clinton: If I am a startup founder and I want to utilize existing content or create my own, what’s most important
Stacy: I think personality is a key part of it. Look at Elon Musk, so, some of his ideas are absolutely, completely out there but he has a personality, he has an approach. He’s trying to change the world and it makes him interesting. The last thing anybody in the world wants is a young startup, creating another white paper, another webinar, another boring approach, right? Intrigue me, interest me, take your story and put a spin on it.
Clinton B: That’s great. How about measuring success. I think a lot of start-ups spend a whole lot of time on gaining twitter followers but they’re not going into a sales funnel, they’re not becoming advocates or ambassadors. What’s the value in that?
Stacy B: Nothing, right? We have a lot of our clients who have in previous years focused on exactly that, those metrics of success; this idea that simply having followers on twitter or Facebook is a metric of success. But is it? With new algorithms, your followers may not even see your posts – especially on social platforms where advertising is their key revenue generator.
The problem is that even with SEO hopefully getting someone to your website. You only get one chance to make a first impression. You’d better make sure it’s good, because that person has taken the time and energy and you could be a qualified lead or a qualified prospect.
I worked with a brand that had hundreds of thousands of followers and their sales were tanking. Their followers only joined the social media channel to get a coupon. After that they didn’t care, so they were deaf to the message They didn’t even see it. They joined to grab a coupon, they haven’t engaged with you since
Clinton B: So, it comes down to your engagement?
Stacy: Absolutely. An engagement for purpose. At the end of the day we are all in business to promote our product or our service, so at the end of the day if you are not leading your followers towards a sale, or an ongoing relationship that leads to continued sales, it’s probably a wasted opportunity.