You already know content is an important marketing channel, and that there are startups whose blogs generate huge amounts of quality leads. But what can you do if your startup isn’t Hubspot (yet), and you don’t have expert writers, a sizable budget, and a lot of time?
In this post, we share four hacks – ideas for content you can create without a huge budget or tons of resources. We’ll share real-life examples from our clients that succeeded in creating high quality content with low investment, driving relevant leads for years after publication.
Four content hacks for startups
1) Interviews with industry experts. Win-win-win: your interview subject will get a thoughtful and flattering interview, your audience will enjoy reading about others in the space, and you’ll get content that’s easy to create and distribute.
- The key here is to find people who want to be interviewed. They will promptly respond to your request, be responsive throughout, and will share the published piece with their networks. How to identify these folks? You can ask your sales and customer success teams, pay attention to who’s active on LinkedIn, who shows up to your events… these are all signs of people who may be interested. There’s no point in chasing someone who isn’t interested. Build a list of 10-20 candidates, and when someone declines or ignores you, simply move on to the next person on the list.
- Interviewing your customers is great, just make sure the interview doesn’t become a sales pitch for your company. We recommend a ratio of up to 10% of content about how terrific your product is, and 90% about industry trends, challenges and successes, the interviewee’s background, etc.
2) Surveys. Author a survey about industry trends, challenges, goals, or any other topic that your audience is interested in. Email it to your audience, offering a token of appreciation to respondents (e.g. an Amazon gift card). The investment is low, and usually the survey engages a lot of relevant leads. With the right follow up, these leads can become sales opportunities and new customers. You can also use the survey responses as the basis for new content – such as a report about industry trends, posts about your audience’s challenges and goals, and deep dive interviews with a few of the respondents.
Our examples: Here’s the post summarizing an industry survey we ran with Torii.
- Try to match the incentive to your audience (e.g. people in Israel won’t use a Starbucks gift card, very senior people won’t be excited by a $5 card), the number of responses you want to get, and the timing (is everyone getting the incentive? only the first X? is it a raffle?)
- We recommend including a question like “would you be willing to participate in a follow up interview about the survey’s topics?” This enables further interaction with relevant leads both for sales and for creating additional content.
3) Curated content or linked lists. Publish or send short lists of recommended links: articles or posts written by you or by other industry experts. You can add a sentence or two about every link.
Our examples: Keywee mastered this with their Friday Reader, a weekly newsletter with recommended content that’s been running for two years. SaaStr (not a client, but the best content in SaaS) recently launched a weekly article roundup, The week in cloud.
- The content you send must be informative and valuable. Every once in a while it’s ok to write about you: your product, your customers, even a short sales pitch. About 1-2 sentences in every fourth post is the ratio we’d recommend, especially if they relate to the overall topic.
- Similarly, curation is key. Don’t include the TechCrunch article from two weeks ago everyone already read – make sure the content you highlight is timely, original, and thought provoking.
4) Industry lists, like events and job openings. Create a repository for a topic your audience finds valuable: for example, a list of all industry conferences, or a list of current job openings in relevant companies.
Example: Bizzabo executed this tactic really well. We recently heard a podcast with its founders, who shared that these lists have been generating traffic and quality leads for years.
The bottom line
Don’t be afraid of creating content, even if you currently have limited resources. The ideas in this post (and many others) let you start small and have success from the get-go and into the future.