For high growth startups and tech companies, content marketing has become an essential technique for building audiences and establishing brands. A recent survey by the Content Marketing Institute revealed that 91% of B2B respondents said they were engaged in content marketing, but only 65% said their overall success in the field has increased within the last year. Why is that? There are a number of common content marketing myths that are still preventing businesses from realizing the full impact of content for their brand in 2018. With so much misleading and confusing information out there, we’ll break down these misconceptions to show how you can build a content marketing strategy that allows you to carve out marketshare and position your brand as a beacon of experience and insight within your industry.
9 biggest content marketing myths for startups
1. It’s too expensive for my startup
Especially if you’re a small startup or bootstrapping, you might think content marketing is too costly for your business. Myths abound about expensive content writers, maintenance costs, graphic design and paid ads. In fact, when done right, content marketing is much less expensive than traditional forms of marketing. Paid ads are often far less effective and come with unnecessary spend. A recent study has shown that content marketing could bring three times as many leads per dollar than a paid ad campaign. By simply being resourceful with your content, repurposing articles and relying on in-house talent, you can achieve a high level of ROI without the spend of other methods.
Additionally, money you invest in content marketing creates a long-term asset for your business. This is because you’ll benefit from a boost in SEO, ranking for more keywords, moving up in Google SERP and an increase of organic traffic coming to your site, even after you stop producing content. We can look at this in comparison to paid ads – which stop having an effect on your business the second you put them on pause. Think of it like renting a house (paid ads) versus buying a house (content marketing) – one sticks around and keeps you safe long after you stop paying for it!
2. It takes up too much time for my marketing team
Producing high-quality content week after week sounds like a huge drain on your time right? Whilst quality and relevance that add value to your target audience are the cornerstones of great content marketing, getting it right doesn’t have to take up all your time. Firstly – widen your horizons of who can write content. This isn’t just the remit of your marketing team. Pool your resources and don’t miss out on the unique value of the people that know your business really well to contribute content. Your developer might want to write about exciting new features or roll-outs, your CEO could produce a thought leadership piece about the direction of your industry.
In fact, one of your greatest assets in your content strategy is your customer care team. Since they’re out there on the front lines of your business everyday, they’re perfectly placed to deliver user facing content your audience actually want to read in the form of infographics that answer commonly asked questions or a video rundown of a particular feature. Content marketing doesn’t have to mean your marketing team are constantly caught up in producing content – see it as a team effort and the time-spend starts to look pretty manageable. Using automation and scheduling tools like WordPress and Buffer can also free up time. Or if you’re looking for a more comprehensive solution, bespoke agencies like Bourbon Creative can take care of your content marketing for you so you can focus on driving your business.
3. All content is useful
Generic content about how great your product is, with a generous sprinkling of keywords, is not the recipe for success in content marketing. The idea that all content is useful is a key misconception that could shoot you in the foot – nor is the saying ‘the more the better’. To make an impact, you need relevant, data-driven content that adds clear value and targets specific pain points for your target audience. Retro marketing spammed audiences with the endless virtues of their product – content marketing delights audiences with content they actually want to read that relates to your product. The average reader spends 37 seconds reading an article or blog post – so make those first seconds count! Less can be more – if it means higher quality, tailored articles or videos.
4. Great content will promote itself
Nice job! You’ve created some interesting articles that add value to your target audience. However – this is only half the work. One of the biggest content marketing myths is that publishing great content is enough. Whilst a well-written blog will eventually drive organic traffic and improve your SEO, if you’re not promoting your content through the right social media channels, all your hard work and creativity will go to waste. In fact, you should allocate as much time to promoting your content as creating it. Only by promoting your content from the start can you get an impression of the results it’s is capable of producing.
5. There’s a universal recipe for success
When kickstarting your content marketing strategy, naturally you’ll head to Google for inspiration about how best to use content for your business. And you’re sure to find a tonne of information online about what to write and how to write it. For instance, many sources will tell you to always produce long-form content that’s at least 1800 words long, they’ll recommend you should follow ‘the skyscraper technique’, always add multiple images and use influencer marketing to promote your content.
Well, none of those are strictly true. There’s no one-size-fits-all for content marketing, and you’ll find a lot of false information when scouring the internet for resources. The optimal type, length and method of promotion for your content will depend entirely on your buyer persona, so identify exactly who that is, and the rest will follow. Take the example of a B2C company targeting generation Z audiences – they’d be far better off writing shorter articles of around 600 words that use humor, and promoting them via influencers. On the other hand, a SaaS startup targeting experienced IT managers will need longer content (1500 words +) that’s more technical and in-depth regarding a particular technical problem or pain point.
So don’t follow blindly everything you read about content marketing: there’s no perfect recipe for success. Your best bet for cooking up a storm using content to keep in mind your buyer persona at all times, and tailor your content accordingly.
6. It’s all about your own site
‘Keep all your content in one place’ – false! It’s a common misconception that businesses shouldn’t repurpose and republish their content across many different platforms, sources and locations. Spread your net far and wide by reposting your content on LinkedIn, publications you read and respect and business communities.
Guest blogging is another great way of getting the most use out of your content and giving it the best chance of having an impact too. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying to get your content featured on the blogs of larger scale brands in your space. It will create new connections with clients, audiences and bring more traffic to your site. Recycling content more than once and in more than one online location is the smartest use of your hard work and will bring you the biggest results. Just make sure to use canonical tags appropriately to avoid any SEO meltdowns caused by penalization for duplicate content.
7. It’ll generate leads overnight
Perhaps one of the most common content marketing myths from startups is the belief that you’ll see results immediately. We’d be the first to testify to the sheer power of content marketing for your business – but it’s a long game and it won’t generate leads overnight. If you’re starting from scratch, and you don’t have much of an online presence as it stands, it can sometimes take months until first results are seen. Content marketing isn’t about generating sales straight away, it’s about building up brand authority and nurturing leads over time This is because the Google bots that crawl the web take time to identify your site and discover you’re producing regular and high-quality content.
This isn’t a project you can inject time and money into in one go and then leave it work its wonders – a successful content marketing strategy will take continuous monitoring, research and dedication. With so much content out there, it takes time to become an online authority and grow your brand voice to stand out above the noise. But with patience, consistency and quality comes great results!
8. It’s not for my business
Let’s face it, not every brand has a thrilling product and an immediately obvious compelling subject to write about – but that doesn’t mean they can’t ace content marketing. Any business can tell a story – no matter how ‘traditional’ or seemingly unromantic your field is. Take Danish shipping corporation Maersk. At the time of writing, they have over 2 million Facebook followers – an unlikely subject you might think, for such a cult following. But by telling stories about the history of international shipping, how boats navigate icy seas, and even the effects of their business on Kenyan avocado sales, they’ve developed a devoted and passionate following. Any business can succeed at content marketing – you just need to get creative.
Similarly, no business is too small to kickstart a content marketing campaign. Some clients fear they can’t compete with industry leaders who have more resources or a more widely recognized brand. However, if you’re producing carefully positioned and high-quality content you can always compete – no matter how challenging the competition looks. Everyone loves an underdog!
9. Content is dead
With all the talk of content shock, and such a high volume of information there, some might say that content marketing is no longer an effective way of reaching your audience. However, in reality, content isn’t dead – it’s just evolving to the next level. True, merely writing a 400-word article about a topic that’s already been covered 1000 times is no longer enough to gain a following. But that’s no bad thing as it pushes us to innovate and look for new ways to disrupt markets and answer questions for customers. Either your written content will need to be cream of the crop (long-form content that really adds value), or find new and exciting days to deliver that content. Think videos, podcasting or infographics that will make your content stand out. If no one reads your blog you need to step up your game, not quit.
With so much noise around content marketing, what it can do for your startup and how you can be sure of high ROI, it can be hard to know what to believe. This deep-dive into 9 commonly held content marketing myths debunks a number of crucial misconceptions to give you the tools to launch your content marketing strategy with confidence. Even if you’re a young startup with limited resources, content marketing could help you to realize your business’ potential and make your voice heard.