Content and Objectives

Once you have your marketing strategy, turn the corner to execution by determining your objectives (what you want your marketing to achieve), developing a content marketing strategy, and earmarking a budget.


All right. You have a sound marketing strategy. You’ve completed your positioning statement. Only three things stand in your way from starting to execute your marketing plan. And that is to hit that upper right corner and really set the foundation that will be so critical for your success as you start to execute. And what we want to do here is define your marketing objectives, outline a good content marketing plan and make sure you set your budget.

So let’s talk about setting your objectives. It’s really important to define success. And it’s going to be different for every startup. Write it down and share it with your team. And pick one goal that you think is relevant for everyone. And that could be subscribers, sign‑ups, revenue or profitability. It’s really important to make sure that everyone’s on the same page.

Content marketing is one of the most effective things you can do to help your business grow at a very, very low cost. It’s the reason why companies such as Mint and HubSpot have been so successful. Companies who actually document a well‑defined content marketing plan are four times more likely to generate leads than others. So what is content marketing? Why do you need it? And how do you do it? Content marketing is nothing more than identifying compelling pieces of information that are interesting and helpful to your audience. It can be in the form of many, many things, whether it’s social posts, blogs, newsletters, videos, photos, the list goes on and on. The goal of content marketing is to build credibility for your brand to be relevant for your target. But most importantly it will encourage customers to keep coming back to your website. And ultimately will help you grow your sales. A marketing automation software company did research on the topic and they found that companies who do consistent, effective content marketing reduce their cost per lead by over 80 percent.

So let’s talk about how you do it. I suggest you create a list of 30 to 50 potential topics that are relevant and interesting for your customer. And it can be related to your product or your industry or it can be things that you think would be useful for that customer that has nothing to do with your product. As you think about content, I always look at a litmus test to see is it really actually being helpful. And I go back to the vowels, A E I O U.

The A stands for be actionable. HubSpot does a great job of providing very actionable ideas that you can put into practice the next day.

The E stands for educational. If you can make your customers smarter that is so helpful. A great example of this is LinkedIn. They’ve done a phenomenal job of curating content throughout the web that they share with their users. And that section of their website is one of the most highly trafficked aspects of anything else that they do.

The I stands for inspirational. If you can make your customer feel better about the world, that is always a great thing. One company that does this better than anyone is Dove and their real beauty campaign.

The next big thing is O. Be outrageous. Be funny. If you can entertain your audience that’s a win. If you’ve ever looked at a Dollar Shave Club video, you know exactly what I mean. And in fact, that video is what’s driven their sales more than anything else that they’ve done in terms of marketing.

And the final vowel is useful. This is probably the most important because you want to make sure that you provide feedback and content that’s actually helpful to the customer. A good example of this is McDonald’s Canada. They actually invited their customers to submit questions about their product, their company, or anything else they wanted. Since the site launched they’ve had over 16,000 questions. And they’ve done a great job of answering over 10,000; 400 per day.

Marketing is no longer one‑way, it’s a dialogue. I always use a ratio of four‑to‑one. Four elements that are truly helpful across those vowels. Actionable, educational, inspirational, outrageous or funny and useful to one part trying to sell. It’s like having a relationship. So let’s say you and I are friends and every time we meet the only thing I do is talk about myself, try to sell you things, and oh by the way, I never listen to anything you have to say. Chances are you are going to avoid me like the plague. And so that’s very much like social media. Don’t be that guy. Be the kind of person that actually listens, adds value, is useful. If you do that you will really win in the content marketing field.

It’s really important to set aside dollars for your marketing activities. And my recommendation is to start small. And that’s going to be different for different people. If you’re just starting out you may only want to earmark a couple hundred dollars. If you’re a venture‑backed big firm, it may be more. But the reality is it should be a relatively small amount of money. Just enough for you to test and learn and experiment with the one or two tactics that you decide to use when you’re executing your plan. And invariably as you start to test and tweak there will be one or two things that start to take off. And that’s when you want to double down and really put your money against that key channel to drive growth in your business.

So the punch line here is, make sure you earmark your dollars, start small. And then once you see success, double down so you can drive growth and meet your marketing objectives.

Suggested Readings

Founders School || Entrepreneurial Marketing || Content and Objectives || Impact Guide (PDF).

Halligan, Brian, Dharmesh Shah, and David Meerman Scott. 2009. Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs. New York: Wiley.

Kauffman Founders School, The Lean Approach: Customer Acquisition and Archetypes, Steve Blank.

Alcorn, Stacy. “Stop Talking About Yourself So Much on Social Media and Listen”, March 17, 2014.

Questions for You

What is my marketing objective? Customers, revenue, getting noticed by national retailers, attracting investment?

What does success look like? Be as specific as possible.

Who is my ideal target? What are their hopes, fears, pain points , challenges?

Where does my target customer go to learn about my industry? Be specific.

What are my competitors doing with respect to content marketing?

Can I document my content strategy?

How can I help customers take action? How can I be educational, inspirational, outrageous, or useful?

Where should I be publishing this content? (e.g social media, website blog, YouTube, sales presentations, webinars etc)

Who on my team has the skills to contribute to content?

Tools and exercises

Go back to Steve Blank’s Lean Approach Series and view the module on Customer Acquisition and Archetypes. Develop a description of your target customer and their day from start to finish.

As a team agree on who is the ideal target.

What are their hopes, fears, pain points, challenges?

Where does our target customer go to learn about our industry? Be specific.

As a team generate a list of at least 25 topics that would be of interest to our customers.

After completing the list of topics,ask: Is our content – actionable, educational, inspirational, outrageous and/or useful?

Who on our team has the skills to contribute to content?