When & Why Content Marketing Matters


Whether your business is a startup, a consultancy, or a corporation, a comprehensive but flexible content marketing strategy is key to staying competitive. Not only does quality content communicate brand values and perspective, but it also serves as a timely pull that supports customers making potentially costly purchases. However, many companies treat content marketing as a final touch once the product is complete, rather than a core component of the product itself. As such, they miss opportunities to build a memorable, unified voice and trust amongst their target demographic.

At minimum, keeping an active pipeline of fresh content relevant to your industry can help elevate brand recognition and encourage backlinking, which in the long-term improves your company’s SEO and visibility. On the other side of the spectrum, using content to build legitimacy and loyalty can allow for higher price points and more lucrative partnerships. So what are a few low-hanging fruits that any company can pick to kickstart their 2017?


If Your Company is a Pre-Seed Startup

Your company’s relative lack of social DNA makes it easy to experiment with a variety of channels, mediums, and delivery methods to discover which resonates most deeply with the audience you’re aiming to convert. Give yourself strict deadlines and metrics to measure in order to evaluate each assets’ efficacy, and cycle through content types so you don’t inadvertently abandon nascent followers. A common problem with blog series and newsletters, for example, is the promise of “part 3” or “daily updates” – without follow-through, these tools can do more harm than good.

If you’re still building your product, document your development cycle rigorously. You don’t have to publish a press release for every commit, but these notes can give power users insight into your product’s future and can be easily expanded into user guides, manuals, and blog posts. If your company is enterprise-focused, identify which features are most important to the decision-maker and create case studies, white papers, and testimonials in which that feature is shown to make a quantifiable improvement in ROI, productivity, or conversion. If your product is more consumer-facing, highlight your users and reward those who’ve created great content with your technology.


If Your Company is a Freelance Consultancy

When your brand is.. well, you, it can be tricky to separate your personal and professional lives, particularly if you yourself are in the marketing field. Here, it’s particularly useful to build content that highlights your process, passions, and examples of work. If you notice that your clients ask similar questions or that you find yourself providing the same resources over and over again, consider making gated content that you can drip either manually or in emails. Not only does this give your existing clients additional value, but it also allows you to scale your business when you’re ready.

Social media can also be a helpful tool for freelancers, though the extent to which you rely on it is defined by your outreach strategy. If you work primarily through referrals, you can use social media to show legitimacy and perspective, but should be careful about potentially alienating a sector that you might later need to expand into. If you’re more of a niche consultant, optimize your behavior for your intended audience and engage actively with them. For example, if you’re a web developer with a passion for interactive journalism, create an animation-rich article about an important topic and Tweet at related organizations in order to grab their attention – and drive them to your call-to-action – with relevant, thoughtful collateral.


If Your Company is a Legacy Corporation

The larger and more established your company is, the more likely it is that there will be stringent branding rules regarding the proper tone, structure, and topic range. While this can be a tremendous benefit for companies whose branding guidelines are classic, enduring, and appropriate, corporations with dated material and an overreliance on traditional marketing tactics need to be particularly cognizant of how their brand might be perceived by new audiences. Of course, companies that have built their name through decades, even centuries, of craftsman-level production have other means of communicating their brand’s strengths, but in this globalized world, it’s never enough to assume that your reputation precedes you. Yahoo and Hotmail, for example, saw enormous success in developing markets, until Google localized their services and began producing siloed content that presented email as just one feature in an ever-expanding toolkit.

Focus not on reinventing the wheel – particularly if your content team is small – but rather on building content for uninitiated personas or industries. Developing skunkworks projects or leading new marketing initiatives is an excellent way to revitalize stagnant messaging. Keep track of how competitors are using their content engine, and find the angle that best presents your unique storyline while highlighting your company’s years of experience. Your company’s success came from somewhere – find that spark, define the audience that made that happen, and research what types of content and positioning best appeal to them.


Kickstart Your Content Calendar in 2017

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to take stock of your existing tools, assets, and processes. What has worked from the past year, and where have you been hitting a wall? Take note of emerging trends and discuss them in reference to your business – i.e. how does your company plan to incorporate open-sourced machine-learning or provide customers an enhanced VR experience? Reach out to contributors both within your company and in the broader industry to provide a diverse perspective about your product and space, but most importantly, build content that values quality over quantity. 

2017 is just starting – don’t stall at the gate! With consistent, relevant, and ethical content, you can elevate your brand’s profile, build thought-leadership, create additional hooks for buyers, and connect with users on a variety of platforms.

If this was useful for you and/or you have specific questions regarding content marketing, please let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful 2017!

Why I Want To Work A 9 – 5

What happened to me?

I spent the year after college traveling the world, avoiding the real question of “What am I doing with my life?” with the more pleasant question, “What cheap street food in this foreign paradise should I eat for dinner tonight?” To supplement my finances, I did a bit of freelance editing, but considering I was spending between between a thousand to twelve hundred dollars per month, it wasn’t hard to live off of my savings. I didn’t think about “career advancement” and “work-life balance,” because I didn’t have a career or a committed work schedule. Life was awesome.

But of course, when the “life” part of the equation began to get complicated, and the work part started to become more necessary (paradise isn’t free, after all), it was time to return to the States and get my shit figured out. I began working at a small startup called MentorCloud, redesigning the website, creating marketing plans, and learning everything that I could about business strategy. Startup life can be incredibly educational for any young entrepreneurially-minded professional, so I’m glad to have worked so closely to the core of the product. However, working for a startup can be a somewhat unstructured and limitless experience, which has both good and bad consequences. A steady paycheck, as I unsurprisingly discovered, was a bigger driver than I would have thought in my decision to keep searching for opportunities. A more conventional job sounded like the right decision.

Through MentorCloud and a surprising personal connection from Cambridge, I landed a position on the agile Runway team. A scrappy group, we cater to a community of around 200 entrepreneurs, which can be a menacing prospect at times but has also been an incredible learning experience. I work directly on the educational aspect of Runway – planning, executing, and documenting lectures and workshops that help startups build their businesses faster, smarter, and stronger. My job puts me in touch with some amazing speakers and incredible thought-leaders (most recently, Seth Godin!), and I’ve definitely picked up some critical life skills and business hacks that I couldn’t have gained from even an MBA program.

Oftentimes, however, a good deal of my work occurs in the evening, after the main bulk of the office has cleared out and is replaced by a regular procession of first-time guests, eager to learn more about our unique coworking space and the several perks of being a member. While I love bringing in new teams and putting on excellent events, it can get exhausting to regularly stay late at an office (even one as fun as Runway) and have little control over my evening schedule. As it turns out, a steady paycheck wasn’t the only type of stability I had been missing.

The advantage of working for a start-up environment, though, is the ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. After indicating that I wanted to transition to a daytime schedule, we began the process of modifying our educational track system (one of my favorite projects, thus far) as well as bringing on new team members to handle the increase in strategic opportunity. As I mentioned, we’re agile and scrappy – we find a way to get things done, but know how to use resources when necessary. Having a vision of what I needed to do my job well stemmed from what I needed to do my life well, so asking for the necessary adjustments was more than a personal request – it was a bid to improve my overall ability to provide value for the company.

When I began traveling, the idea of a 9 – 5 job sounded awful. Where’s the joy in knowing that you’d have to be in the same place, every day, for eight hours a day? That sounded stuffy, almost claustrophobic, and the exact opposite of what I sought out to achieve by traveling instead. But as I moved further on my career conveyer belt, I began to understand the importance of routine and rules and regularly scheduled PTO. I learned how important it is to work at the same time as the rest of your team, to operate during traditional office hours as to avoid sneaking a peek at your emails in the middle of the night, to clear your schedule early into the day so that you could work on pressing projects until that dinner that you were able to plan two weeks before. I learned that all of the flexibility in the world doesn’t necessarily lead to the best results, especially if you’re a workaholic (or incompetent, but that’s not a consideration in this scenario).

A 9 – 5 doesn’t have to be a death kneel if it’s in an engaging, interactive environment, full of coworkers you easily could consider friends. A regular schedule, with a regular paycheck, and a regularly-scheduled lesson every lunch, is quite a delightful thing, and I have a feeling that I’m going to enjoy it very much.

…Oh no, are those…? Is that…? Am I becoming an “adult”?

It appears that this appreciation of a 9 – 5 career, in addition to my obvious love of the freelance lifestyle, might have just leveled me up to the next step in “figuring out my life” by “expanding my search criteria.” I’ll run another query now, so let’s see what I find!