Naturally, the picture wouldn’t be complete without talking about the investment landscape of content marketing. Over $1B has been invested by seed, VC, and growth funds into these new marketing paradigm companies, who evangelize content as the new way of doing business, mainly online.
And I’d have to agree on this one. Digital is changing. We are now visually ignoring the most type of ads, we are installing ad-blockers and we’re going crazy every time we see a banner ad in an email. It just doesn’t feel right anymore. And when we have about 42% of people going online to read content (newspapers, blogs, etc) and 22% to social, thinking in a banner-based world is just so .. 2000’s? (I’m feeling old now).
What I mean to address with this is simple: digital is changing. We need to find better ways to spread our messages, our brands, our products & services. And content is just great for that. It is (or it can be) highly targeted for your audience, growth driven and it just feels right.
Content also allows you to see major benefits not available with the established ad models:
- When content is good, it gets shared. When it gets shared, reach goes up. When reach goes up, you’re working top-of-mind. The proper understanding of how you can engage your audience and how that audience socially reacts to your content might lead you to huge reach levels. One must think of ways to get the maximum possible impact with the least amount of content. Don’t underestimate the creation & research stage. Understand what you readers want and need to read. Make it easy to share. Win.
- The beauty of content is that different people will react differently to the same content. One might think that’s a paradox in terms of how you can focus your message to a particular group. I disagree. You see, in my opinion, a content strategy helps you understand not only how the assets you create impact your targets, but also align your understanding of who the target really is. Let me be clearer on this one. With experimentation, you might find that people react differently to your content once you start changing some variables in it: tone, length, form, headlines, og:images, etc. Learning how different people browse through specific topics and then convert (the user path) can be super important to adjust your positioning and optimize your strategy.
- Ultimately, we all work on a budget. Even VCs. Again, the goal here is to get to the most amount of people (within our target group) with the least amount of work/dollar spent. Let’s be efficient and effective. Do it right, and your content will be organically picking up on the social communities around your target. Do it wrong, you just spend a lot of money creating & distributing content without any tangible result.
But how does this relate to VCs & Content Marketing?
VCs have a tough life. Really, they have. To make 10 investments, the average venture capital firm reviews approximately 1,200 companies. Out of those 1,200 companies they have face-to-face meetings with about 500 companies and proceed to due diligence with about 50.
Think that getting funding for your startup is hard? Think about getting a startup to your fund.
At the end of the day, startups are for VCs what leads are for a B2B company. What you’ll want is to find the best way to qualify that lead before it reaches a sales-person (or an associate in this case).
So, what’s the opportunity here for VCs? I was thinking about this on my way to the office and wrapped up my thoughts around 2–3 key points:
- The best (of the best!) example on this one surely is the OpenView Partners’ Blog. Some months ago I was contacted by one of their associates to have a quick call about GetSocial.io. I already knew about OVP so the conversation was super easy for both parties. No awkward ice breaking, no “so, how’s [insert location here] today?”. 5 min talk about one of their latest posts and a natural conversation is born! Because of OVP shares their insights about the B2B industry, one knows what they true one focus is. If you are a mobile app which goal is to grow as much as you can, they won’t probably invest on you, and you know it. That’s one less email, one less intro, one less meeting, one less poorly qualified lead. Content will grant a VC the right positioning, hence better qualifying their top-line funnel which ultimately makes them more efficient & effective.
- Y Combinator their new publication The Macro , a “not news” publication “mixed in with unmentionably candid advice and embarrassing tales of failure” from YC founders & teams. What they really achieve with this is a belief that within the YC family you test, you fail, you learn, you win. And you won’t do it alone. The investment team and the other portfolio companies will be there for you. For a young startup, knowing that they’ll have a cushion for whatever’s coming for them might be a critical decision factor when choosing which VC or accelerator to partner with. Similar cases have happened with Seedcamp , with their podcast and with our own investors, Faber Ventures who have launched their blog ( Building Momentum ) and are launching their podcast as well.
- At length, it’s all about people. As VCs grow their content strategy, they’ll humanize their position in the startup ecosystem and become closer to the community. Increasing their brand awareness, sharing their stories (and their companies’), opening their doors for those in need of advice will ultimately make startups just want them more, as partners. And with more volume, comes more choice and thus (hopefully) more quality. Not only the content they’re creating helps current portfolio companies but also it attracts new leads that can learn & improve current methods/processes and reach the fundraising stage in a better shape than they would before they had engaged with this content.
- Digital is changing, ads will become more ineffective and/or more expensive. Two-thirds of the web is browsed for content.
- A content strategy can help you increase brand awareness, optimize positioning and decrease marketing costs.
- VCs have a really hard time qualifying which startups they should invest in. Content can help them improve their positioning, show what they’re made of and ultimately, get better deals.