Dan just fulfilled his dream of opening a record store (let’s pretend this analogy comes to you circa 1976). His shop is filled with all the grooviest music, but when he opens the doors on his first day…no one shows up. Dan scratches his head in confusion. Sure, he could have tried to place some ads, run some promotions, and maybe appear on a local radio show, but those things are so expensive. He needs a content creation checklist for his startup company.
Isn’t it more important to get the store open and think about marketing later?
It may seem obvious now, but without creating any marketing content up front, a business can’t build the initial audience needed to grow their business or even evaluate if what they have built is working. And yet, many startups today fall into the same trap – a full 40 years after Dan’s Records failed!
“The lesson of the MVP is that any additional work beyond what was required to start learning is waste, no matter how important it might have seemed at the time.” ― Eric Ries, The Lean Startup
It’s easy to interpret this lesson as downplaying the importance of marketing. It’s not. One of the most important requirements of learning is building an initial audience to learn from.
However, this doesn’t mean you need to launch your startup with a huge marketing campaign and a large investment. Just like your product, your marketing should start with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
To help you get your startup off the ground with the right audience, here is the content creation MVP you’ll need.
Sitemap and Website Copy
Your website is the first place people will go to find out about your business. Presenting a well-organized web experience for your visitors is key to getting your website to work for your business.
In the beginning, avoid the urge to do too much with your website. Your sitemap should be simple and easy to navigate, including only the most necessary pages. This allows you to focus on your most important product features or services and boil down your offering into an easy-to-understand value. This is vital to attracting and converting visitors who are unfamiliar with your company.
Your website copy is an opportunity to display the personality and differentiators of your startup. As you launch your business, it will be vital to stand out from the crowd. A vibrant and unique voice will help to achieve this.
Blogs Posts Published, Drafted, and Brainstormed
Drawing in your initial audience requires a steady stream of content to not only give them a reason to visit your site but to help get your site found by SEO. According to HubSpot, businesses with 401-1000 indexed pages on their site get 6x more leads than those with 51-100 pages. Of course, you can’t be expected to launch your startup’s site with 400 blogs, so where should you start?
- 3-5 Published Posts: Having a few posts published will give early viewers a good view of your message and allow them to read a little bit further than your home page.
- 5-10 Blog Drafts: Once your site is launched, you should start a regular stream of daily or weekly blogging. Having a backlog of ready-to-go posts will ensure you don’t fall behind on your posting schedule when the millions of other struggles of startup life inevitably appear.
- 25-50 Blog Ideas: There is nothing worse than the sight of a blank cursor. Before committing to a regular blog, plan out the next Quarter or six months of content creation you’d like to cover so you can create an effective road map for your blog.
Lead Generation Offers for Every Buyer Persona
Once you start drawing in visitors, how will you convert them? Having valuable, premium content offers, such as eBooks, whitepapers, infographics, and reports, will help as you start to build up your email list. According to Content Marketing Institute, 71% of B2B marketers used whitepapers in 2015.
To keep these offers fresh, we usually recommend creating a new piece of premium content every month or quarter. However, at launch, you can effectively convert your new visitors with one offer per persona. This will ensure that every visitor to your site will find something valuable and targeted to them.
Emails for Every Campaign
What good is an email list if you aren’t emailing them, right? Determining the actual number of emails you’ll need at the launch of your startup really depends on what marketing campaigns you will need for your business. Here are a few different emails you’ll need to support the early communications with your clients and prospects:
- Welcome and Thank You Emails: After converting a lead through one of your web forms or turning that lead into a customer, be sure to send them a thank you email that sets them up for future communications.
- Onboarding Emails: Because word-of-mouth and growth hacking are so important for startups, it’s not enough to just get someone to sign up. The more engaged they are, the more likely they are to use your product or service and the more likely they are to then recommend it to a friend. Create a series of emails that make sure they actually use what they signed up for by educating them on opportunities and best practices.
- Retention Emails: As you get those first hard-won customers, you’ll want to make sure you retain them. Limit initial churn and make sure your customers won’t forget about you with notification emails, product updates, win-back emails, and customer surveys.
- Referral Emails: Now that they remember and love you, specifically ask for referrals. According to Texas Tech, 83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer a product or service, but only 29% actually do. All you have to do is ask.
“The point is not to find the average customer but to find early adopters: the customers who feel the need for the product most acutely. Those customers tend to be more forgiving of mistakes and are especially eager to give feedback.” Eric Ries, The Lean Startup
Final Thoughts on a Start-Up’s Content Creation Checklist
Supporting your startup on a limited content marketing budget can be a struggle early on. But if you are mindful of the content you are creating and the audience you are targeting, you can do a lot with a little. Target your content marketing strategy in the right way, and your startup launch will have all the traction it needs to succeed.