Content Marketing on a Startup Budget

Startups and small business marketers are constantly looking for better ways to promote their company and products. As you know, there are usually no buckets of money being pulled from the wishing well, waiting to be spent on a marketing budget to develop new marketing material and content.

In an earlier article titled “The State of Startup Marketing,” I discussed the concepts around content marketing and how marketing has drastically changed because of two key factors: information overload and new technology-based marketing programs (e.g. marketing automation*).

Content Marketing in a Startup

It is true that marketing automation software is “da bomb.” It will make content marketing management so much easier for your organization. There are many marketing automation platforms available — HubSpot, Pardot and Act-On are just a few — and they all have very different options and varying price tags.  

However, keep in mind that automation does not come cheap. If marketing automation is in your sights, do your research to find the best software to meet your needs. Look for a platform that will grow with your organization.

You don’t want to experience the nightmare of switching software providers because your organization has outgrown your current marketing automation software. I found G2Crowd.com very useful.

However, startup reality means being innovative and challenging yourself to be creative with your resources. Content marketing can be accomplished without marketing automation software.

Yes, I said it. It won’t always be easy, but it can be accomplished.

It does require tons of coordination, planning and communication, even for a small organization. A well-defined content marketing plan gives you control over your business.

Defining metrics and milestones will provide indicators as to whether you are meeting your marketing content and business objectives or not. These same metrics will also give you red flags on where you are falling short and will show you when you need to modify your plan or make a major shift.

Content Marketing Resources

Here are some of the marketing resources I recommend you rely on for specific areas:

Tracking customer interactions

  • An automated CRM is very crucial. (No budget for a CRM? Use an Excel spreadsheet to log all interactions.)
  • Monitor your social media accounts using Hootsuite.com.
  • Check your website, which is the hub of your business.
  • Set up Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools. They’re free.

Content Development

  • Use thought leaders.
  • Publish pieces by experts in your company. This allows you to pull from what you know.
  • Be socially responsive by answering the questions from your audience.
  • Promote material by customers and consultants in your industry.

Visual Content

Software programs can really help.

Email Strategy

Email marketing can help you reach large audiences.

  • Use Outlook’s mail merge feature (and utilize branded email templates from Word).
  • MailChimp has entrepreneur pricing to make things easier and more efficient for you, all at a low cost.

Social Media

These channels are where our target customer hangs out, but the list will differ between B2B and B2C. Some examples are:

  • LinkedIn
  • SlideShare
  • YouTube
  • Twitter

Professional Sources

  • The Content Marketing Institute has a lot of resources to help you get started or get better results.
  • Look to marketing automation blogs and webinars such as Marketo, HubSpot and so on.
  • Industry societies such as journals, traditional PR, ads, tradeshows and events all help build initial awareness.

We depend on these tools, daily. Sure, in an ideal world an automated content system is our dream. However, that might not always be in the cards. What I am trying to illustrate is that content marketing can be accomplished on a startup budget, but to do so, you must:

  • have a well-defined plan that you are dedicated to;
  • develop content that customers want;
  • be flexible; and
  • remember that learning and testing are your friends.

Again, be creative and try what works for you. There is no right and wrong here as long as you are truly listening and fulfilling your the needs of your customers.

*Content Marketing Institute defines marketing automation as, “a technology platform designed for marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.”

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