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You may have wondered how to introduce a product to the market when not even your target audience knows it needs it. How can you compete with the huge global brand that’s already dominating the market? Is it feasible to have sustainable growth without proportionally increasing the budget? Which go-to market strategy should you use, and can you put up a fight if your team has 5 members and the competitor has 2k?

In the early days, startups with small teams face a lot of doubts and difficult questions. There’s not much data yet to drive decisions or to validate a hypothesis.

So, how can you address these questions while remaining vigilant on the long-run? We’ve compiled a list of lessons we’ve learned over the years on how startups can take advantage of an apparently uneven battleground.

1- Ads

You probably don’t want to fight SalesForce for the keyword “Sales”, right? Their monthly marketing budget could pay for the annual income of your entire company, and the price they’re willing to pay for such a keyword looks like your annual marketing budget.

There is, however, a pattern that you can take advantage of: if your competitor is already top-of-mind in the industry, chances are they’re investing their advertising budget in maintaining that. The market already knows what they do, how they do it and how big they are, so large companies tend to focus on branding campaigns. Because of this, all their ads direct consumers to a homepage, a pricing page or a product page.

Almost none of them concentrate their efforts into increasing their content marketing results. And that’s where you come in! By directing ads to your content, you can focus on long-tail keywords, which are normally much cheaper and drive higher quality leads. Directing ads into landing pages, blog posts and other informational and educational material can open the door to a conversation with a prospective customer. This will get your clients closer to your brand and guide them through your sales funnel path – they might not be ready to buy, but they’re ready to listen.

“I didn’t mean you were a little kitty!”

2- Workforce

When you’re a 5-person team sitting around a table, you always wish you had more hands on deck. Funnily enough, if you eventually become a 2k team, you’re bound to miss the good old days when your small team enabled you to make fast decisions and you only had to order one pizza to feed everyone.

How can you work the small size of your staff to your advantage? First of all, if your competitors weren’t born in a content-oriented culture, chances are they will never become that way (no matter how big they get). They’ll probably hire external people to write about their customers’ day-to-day problems and how to solve them. By doing so, the process becomes slower and more complex. If you involve staff who can offer solutions directly, your content creation process will be smoother and more efficient.

A lot of companies begin their content efforts even before launching their product to the market. Start by creating an editorial line and engaging an audience, strive to understand their pain and put together a community that (later) presents solutions.

If you haven’t done that yet, not everything is lost. You can still create a content-oriented company by getting your team to write. They’re the ones answering the phone on a daily basis, listening to your customers’ feedback, feeling their pain and coming up with solutions. Who better than them to write about it?

Tip: create a blog for your sales team, one for your customer support team (which can later become the Help Desk) and another one for your tech team. Make sure everyone is involved, set monthly goals and reward those who reach them.

“I’ve got this!”

3- Scalability

While you may not see results right away, one of the advantages of content marketing strategies is that you’re creating a durable asset that will provide different types of value to your company. And the best part is that it belongs to you!

This differs from publishing posts in big news media, where you’re mostly using their audience, increase your traffic for a week and go back to square one. Similarly, an ad campaign can get you immediate results, but once you stop paying for it, it’s all gone!

Content marketing will add long-term benefits to your company. It’s your audience, your media and your community, and you can put it to work however you see fit. If, for instance, you need to get better results the following month or you need to mobilize more people into a given cause, you can do so by reaching out to the people you’ve been talking to and helping along the way – they’re already on your side.

“It’s your turn folks, go on!”

4- Final thoughts

I’ve heard companies of all sizes claim that they were waiting to get their strategy in place before making content go live. But what does that even mean? Your content marketing strategy will always be in constant development. It doesn’t matter how much you’re gaining from it, you’ll have to modify it along the way.

For this reason, the best way to get started is setting up a process in which you can track your hits and losses, control the process itself and the time spent, obtain useful data, organize your team and prepare all of that to scale – learning along the way.

You may think that you’re saving money by not using an appropriate tool, but you’re not. Automating processes and documenting what you’re learning along the way is essential for improvement. 

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