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Three Strategies to Help Start-ups Survive the Age of Content Marketing

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Marketing-savvy entrepreneurs are eagerly embracing the rise of a new phenomenon transforming the business world -"the consummerization of everything." This new trend is fundamentally changing the way organizations work, play, interact, grow, and engage. From a marketing perspective, connected consumerism poses more than new demands on already bootstrapped marketing budgets. It lays out deep economic shifts in how organizations leverage business assets and build their public brands.

As a result, there is tremendous pressure on small businesses to produce value-driven, informative and 'sticky' content at an ever-increasing rate. Nowadays, content marketing geared towards social sharing is prevailing the marketing mix, forcing entrepreneurs and business owners to reevaluate keystone investments.

In general, small businesses are ill-equipped to deal with this new era of content marketing and consummerization. Very often, in a traditional start-up model, content generation responsibilities lie within the business development function that is also tasked with demand generation, marketing strategy, ecosystem development, etc. In today's fast-paced environment of constant connectivity, entrepeneurs are struggling to meet the growing pressures of social media, SEO, online reputation tracking, etc. Very often, without dedicated marketing resources it can be next to impossible to sort out even basic do's and don'ts.

It's time for entrepreneurs to rethink how they architect storytelling, PR, and social investments in order to remain top-of-mind for important audiences such as investors, customers, and prospects. Below are three management strategies mandated by the age of content marketing.

Trade Authority for Employee Activation - According to Gallup research, the majority of successful entrepreneurs are self-reliant and fulfill multiple roles to address the needs of their start-ups. However, in today's competitive marketplace, every customer is hard-earned and it takes a village to create a consistent and engaging message that builds brand loyalty. To that end, instead of focusing on controlling every piece of branded content that leaves the company's firewall, entrepreneurs should focus on training their team to actively proselytize the brand. Investing in training employees on how to serve as brand ambassadors effectively will not only help avoid internal dissonance but also extend the lifecycle of every resource spent towards marketing and content creation.

Prepare for "Social-as-a-Service"- It's a common misperception that start-ups have an inherent aptitude to adopt new technologies quicker than established companies. In reality, many new companies are so focused on marketing their own products and surviving the insolvency race that they overlook valuable new tools. Marketing measurement, social media management, and audience tracking technologies help reduce barriers to realizing brand capital. From established solutions like Yammer to rising stars like Bloomfire, social collaboration platforms can help business owners keep an ear to the ground while serving as brokers for knowledge sharing and innovation.

Social management technology, if adopted wisely and implemented strategically, has the potential to dwarf marketing spending without compromising results. For example, the plethora of assistive and multimedia tools available at little to no cost can significantly reduce upfront spending for startups looking to build out their content assets. Nowadays, startups can produce quality collateral, infographics, and polished visuals without hiring professional designers. Similarly, social network aggregators allow brands to serve as virtual newsrooms and deliver information and insight to their target audiences, creating a network of constant connectivity and engagement. Social and assistive technologies support customer loyalty-building that can help bolster a start-up's resistance to market shifts and investor volatility.

Pay Attention to the Fundamentals - As brand community-building is becoming more and more dependent on rapid content generation, cost-conscious startups can easily get lost in the sea of recommended techniques, routines, strategies, etc. Moving beyond buzzwords and the inundation of tools and experts, the fundamental principles of establishing a strong company brand still apply. From identifying target audiences to measuring and refining marketing activity, entrepreneurs should follow the foundational rules of marketing that continue to underpin effective campaigns in the digital age. This means strategically leveraging storytelling to create market urgency for product or service offerings and continually pushing out a consistent brand image.

The convergence of empowered (and informed) consumerism and social and mobile technology is slam-ducking linear marketing tactics. In this new playing field, organizations that allow their employees to have a voice and are smart about digital engagement can easily usher into a state of highly-effective, habit-based storytelling. As content marketing continues to mature, startups that have a natural aptitude to apply forward-looking solutions to marketing challenges will more easily propel forward.