I’m Tom Kuder, creator of CMS. If you’re starting (or restarting) a business and think that content marketing could help, but don’t know where to begin, this page is for you.
Content Marketing Basics
I’m here to share my experience and ongoing curiosity as a marketing and startup veteran, teach you the essentials as I learn them, and lead by example. That’s what I’m all about, and that’s what CMS is all about.
What is Content Marketing?
THE CMS DEFINITION
In my experience, the best meaning for startups (and a good philosophy for any business) is the following:
Content marketing is simply the process of providing people with information they care about in order to form a trusting business relationship.
People. Information. Care. Trust. Relationship.
These content marketing basics remind us that we’re connecting with real people who have real jobs and real challenges.
Our role is to inform people about topics that matter to them, in a trustful and honest way. Do that, and you’ll build the basis for business relationships that benefit all sides.
Why startups are special
YOU’RE NOT LIKE ANYONE ELSE!
You wear countless hats: owner, marketer, developer, salesperson. You love to “do it yourself,” which is good because you don’t have a lot of staff (or any) to help you. And you don’t have much budget (or any) for marketing.
I get it. I’ve been there in my own startups, and while helping other entrepreneurs.
You don’t need, and can’t afford, 99% of the marketing tools out there. What you do need are content marketing basics that are affordable and usable, yet complete enough and effective enough to get results as you start your business.
So, who can use this stuff?
THE CMS SWEETSPOTS
The tools recommended on CMS are tailored to the needs of busy people starting businesses who are short on time and money, but who still want to be effective marketers. (If you already have a business, but are trying to “pivot” it somehow, you’re in startup mode too.)
Online or offline. B2B or B2C.
Your business might deliver products, services or information. It might be an online business, like CMS itself, or offline, delivering physical products or in-person services.
We’ll focus on B2B firms, but most of the content marketing basics also apply to B2C start-ups. I’ll try to let you know when I think there might be a difference.
Freelancers and agencies
If that’s you, I have a special spot in my heart for you because I’m a freelancer and built a content marketing agency myself.
I think there are two ways for you to use this site:
- Gain knowledge about promoting yourself, and
- Discover ways to expand your business services.
What Content Marketing is NOT
CONTENT MARKETING BASIC TRUTHS
- Is NOT easy. No effective marketing strategy is a slam dunk – to get results, you’ve got to work hard. I’ll do my best to guide you and give you the structure and tools you need, but you’ve got to put in the effort. But hey, you’re an entrepreneur, aren’t you?
- Is NOT instant. Because it’s based on building trust and relationships, content marketing takes time. This is especially true for startups that don’t have an established brand, thought leadership or digital footprint. You’re starting at square one. But there is a clear way forward – with the right Content Marketing strategy.
- Is NOT impossible. Becoming a full-time content marketer wasn’t even on my mind until 2008. That’s when I was “downsized” due to the shrinking economy. With few job options, I decided to create my own opportunities. After a couple consulting gigs, I learned a lot, and I realized that helping others with content marketing was both exciting and profitable. It powered my clients’ growth, and my own agency’s success as well. Now I want to share what I’ve learned with you.
Marketing has changed: #1
SELF-EDUCATION RULES THE WORLD
You Must Be an Online Teacher
Consumers and business buyers alike use Internet searches to learn about issues, products and solutions before they buy anything. Your business needs to support that process. Content Marketing can help.
Marketing has changed: #2
BUYERS ARE MOSTLY INVISIBLE
BEFORE Business Buyers Call You...
- 77% conduct online research (DemandGen)
- 50% of the “sales cycle” has already been completed (Corporate Executive Board Study)
- 51% have already built a short list (DemandGen)
Consumer buyers are mostly invisible, too, with similar “behind the scenes” behavior.
Your job is to help buyers see you before you’re able to see them.
Marketing has changed: #3
IT’S A BUYING PROCESS, NOT A SELLING PROCESS
You Must Support the Buyer's Journey
Instead of just pitching something, use educational Content Marketing to meet buyers where they are on their path from being unaware, to considering multiple solutions, to selecting your solution. Give buyers the information they need along the way, and you’ll build both trust and value.
Marketing has changed: #4
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
Look Inside Your Buyer's Mind
Buyers don’t care about your company, especially if you’re brand new. What they do care about is how to make their lives better. Use the tools of Content Marketing to understand buyers’ needs and connect with them. That’s called being “buyer-centric.”
Content Marketing Startup Essentials:
A SELF-HOSTED WEBSITE WITH A BLOG
A website is required even if you don’t transact business online
In order to be visible to your invisible buyers as they self-educate, you need a website.
Although there are some free options like WordPress.com, Weebly, or Wix, I don’t recommend that approach because it limits your web address naming and your control over design, functionality and business continuity.
To get around these limitations, I recommend using a “self-hosted” website based on WordPress (not WordPress.com).
(If you’ve already got a website and a blog, great! That’ll be the foundation for your Content Marketing Startup tactics.)
Learn More About Content Marketing Basics
I have three lessons that I think are required reading for anyone who wants to learn more about content marketing basics.
CMS followers tell me that these articles helped them understand the basic driving elements of Content Marketing for startups. I think they’ll help you too.
If you like the articles, be sure to subscribe to the CMS blog to get new lessons as they come out. You can do that at the bottom of this page.
In addition, you’ll want to download my light-hearted (but educational!) ebook on why Content Marketing Isn’t a One-Night Stand.
Your interest is appreciated!
THANKS FOR LEARNING WITH ME
I’m truly grateful for your interest in learning together!
I say “together,” because even though I’ve been studying and practicing Content Marketing for quite awhile, I know there’s always more I can learn. Since I’ll be sharing what I learn as I learn it, you could say I’m “learning out loud!”
I want to hear your questions, your stories, your successes, your stumbles. I’ll do my best to respond to your feedback.
Online Learning -- Totally Free
One content marketing lesson a week, gratis.
Join the class. It couldn't be simpler!