Why Do Startups Think Content is Expendable?

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small_3121511810You got a great idea, website
you got some startup funding, your patents and trademarks got squared away, you developed the product, launched it, and you’reworking out the bugs as you wait for the public to embrace it.  Now, how exactly is it they’re going to find you?  (The answer is content, but read on anyway.)

You may have put some thought into marketing, but not many startups seem to be accepting the radical changes marketing’s undergone.  Social has empowered and put the customer in charge.  They’re always connected, have high expectations, have strength in numbers, and are very vocal.  If your plan is to use push messaging and impose ads on them…wow, get a new plan.

Amazing customer experiences and customer service are the new marketing.

Word of mouth, supercharged by social and mobile, is the new marketing.

Relationships and trust are the new marketing.

How do you get all those things?  (I told you, content.  But keep reading).  A recent Forrester report highlighted just how low the public’s trust of brand messaging has fallen.  They’re getting increasingly immune to hype, tricks, manipulation, and lies.   You care about your ads.  They don’t.

They’re multi-tasking on multiple devices.  They’re “busy,” so getting their attention is quite a feat.  They want something of value to them.  If they get it, they’ll reward you by letting themselves be exposed to your brand.  If they love it, they’ll start trusting you.  If they trust you, they’ll publicly associate themselves with you by singing your praises.  So what can you give them that they value?  (Seriously?  You don’t know it’s content by now?)

You have a communications outlet that covers the entire globe, right now, and for FREE.  You have your own 24/7 newspaper, TV network, radio network, and magazine.  You have a stage with an audience out there staring at it.  So what show are you putting on it?  What are you doing to draw a crowd?

As a startup, you’re at ground zero.  You need the public’s attention.  Individuals have gone from obscurity to phenomenon with the content they create.  So can you.  Consumers are used to being entertained, informed or amused at all times.  They actively seek that out.  They do not actively seek out ads.  In fact they pay premiums to avoid them.

So what is “content”?  Content is stuff.  It’s entertaining stuff, informative stuff, useful stuff, stuff that makes you laugh, stuff that makes you think, stuff that makes you mad, stuff that makes you sad, stuff you want to talk to other people about, stuff that makes you want to see more stuff, stuff that helps you, stuff that has you on the edge of your seat, stuff that brings people together, stuff that helps you make a decision, stuff that makes you smarter, stuff that inspires you to take action, stuff you’ll remember.

So startups are suddenly expected to be producers, writers, actors and publishers?  Hell yes.  You can try to make it all about tech, but every modern marketing development only underlines the same truth, you’re invisible without a good show.

Startups can’t sit on the fence.  Learn who your target market is and what they’re drawn to in general.  Use social to make, find and share cool stuff, not just posts and tweets about your product.  At the very least, blog like clockwork so the space knows about you and your expertise in that space.  Are you more likely to buy from someone you know, or from a total stranger you’ve never seen or heard of before?

Sadly, the fence is right where many startups are sitting.  Marketing, and certainly content, is relegated to “we’ll get to it when we can…if there’s any money left” status.  Instead of prepping the ground for a fruitful launch, seeds are being thrown on concrete.  If you don’t have an entertaining writer or content person in-house, get at least one.

In the new marketing world, there’s a big price to pay for regarding content your customers want as expendable.

Mike Stiles
Mike Stiles is the author of “Showtime: Brands as Content Producers” and screenwriter for the sponsored web series “High Rise.” He is also a board member and CMO of Sketchworks, Atlanta’s premier live sketch comedy company and Sr. Content Manager for a major global technology company. Prior to his digital life, Mike was a morning drive radio host, talk radio host, and TV news anchor/reporter.
Mike Stiles
Mike Stiles
Mike Stiles

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Mike Stiles is the author of “Showtime: Brands as Content Producers” and screenwriter for the sponsored web series “High Rise.” He is also a board member and CMO of Sketchworks, Atlanta’s premier live sketch comedy company and Sr. Content Manager for a major global technology company. Prior to his digital life, Mike was a morning drive radio host, talk radio host, and TV news anchor/reporter.

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