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Generating qualified leads for Tech startups – a practical guide

    Content marketing drives 10x increase in lead conversion

    This Content Marketing Guide brings together specific actions and use cases most from our day-to-day work with Tech Entrepreneurs. It draws also from our own experience building Tech ventures in Energy and Aerospace industries.

    If you have more money than brains, you should focus on Outbound Marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on Inbound Marketing.

    Guy Kawasaki

    We believe that a well-executed Content Marketing strategy is key to success for early tech ventures – in this Content Marketing guide for Entrepreneurs we cover:

    • Why Content Marketing is important
    • What content works for your startup
    • 5 Ground rules to shape your content
    • Great Use Cases on content distribution
    • Powerful, Easy to use and cheap Tools
    • Call To Action to get qualified leads

    Why Tech Entrepreneurs should focus on Content marketing

    Outbound Marketing & Sales feels great!

    You dig through your network e.g. Linkedin & co. to get some target names. You reach out to them, email or chat, for a chance to sell your solution. Probably a necessary step, but this has some flaws:

    • You spend most of your time establishing first contacts
    • You are interrupting your audience in their day-to-day business
    • Missing problems where your solution could be of greater value
    • Very low sales conversion rate and huge time spent

    In this Content Marketing Guide for Entrepreneurs, we prefer to focus on the definition :

    “The marketing and business process for creating and distributing valuable and compelling content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience — with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

    Epic Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi

    Build the right Content Marketing for your startup

    In order to maximize impact of any marketing action, it is critical to understand the characters at play.

    THE HUNTER a.k.a Entrepreneur

    The Tech Entrepreneur should consider key characteristics of one’s early stage Startups, as it affect the Content marketing strategy:

    • Mostly unknown to your target market
    • Still validating and discovering real market needs
    • Time-to-revenues and acquiring new customers is key
    • Cannot afford fully fledged digital marketing campaigns

    THE TARGET a.k.a Prospective Customer

    Be careful! Your Target is NOT the Innovation Manager, who is scouting for Innovative ideas.

    Every decision maker you’re trying to engage with spends 90% of their working life in F.E.A.R. They are: Frustrated, Evasive, Apathetic and Risk averse.

    Paul Cash, Rooster Punk

    Our Target character is one of the Business Managers busy tackling day-to-day operations. He has probably lived many years with the Status Quo. When the Target decides to solve a problem, one wants tangible benefits:  increased sales, reduced cost or improved quality.

    5 practical rules for effective Content marketing

    So now it is time for Tech Entrepreneurs to take this content marketing guide into action!

    #1 Make your content relevant to your Target audience

    Know-Your-Customer with empathy. Focus on understanding your Target market needs, problem and expectations. Work out various options to address this issue incl. your solution. But keep it low-key on branding and hard selling.

    #2 Build credibility and trust

    Working in F.E.A.R., the Decision Maker is concerned by the risk of working with you as a new supplier. Testimonials and facts from Pilot, existing customers, research partners or opinion leaders increase your credibility.

    #3 Illustrate your content

    You should grab attention through relevant picture or visual. License-free pictures and video material can be found on Pexels, Unsplash, Pxhere and many more on a pay-for-license e.g. shutterstock & co.

    #4 Your Call To Action

    Prepare your Call To Action well before your content marketing release. Keep in mind that your goal is to generate awareness so that your target audience connects with you. You need to have a clear path to bring these new leads into your commercial funnel.

    #5 Measure impact and iterate

    We are competing for attention with a million other content. While the costs of ‘Distribution’ have dropped to almost Zero, the ‘Production’ time & costs have increased to deliver quality content. Regularly measure impact to fine tune type of content, messages and distribution channels.

    Now that you have built your content, let us look at ways it can be distributed to your audience, leveraging specific use cases.

    THE DISTRIBUTION – where to publish my ‘content’?

    It should be where your Target audience is looking for information. Do you address a large, fragmented market? Or rather a an industry with few big buyers? How much time and money you are prepared to dedicate?

    Below are some of the main distribution strategies implemented for tech Startups.

    • Social Media
      For most Tech businesses, preferred routes will be Linkedin, Medium, Youtube and Industry specific blogs. If your business involves design or visual value creation, consider adding Instagram or Facebook.
    Labtoo, France, European marketplace for scientific research. Leveraging LinkedIn & more
    • Blog
      Startups should favor theme based content, which grabs attention. Add some News as you become a more established businesses. Keep it generic, typically loosely tied to your company and branding. Many blogs follow the ‘Listicle’ format and some more Best Practices here.
    Hubspot, USA Marketing, sales, and service software that helps your business grow without compromise. Great blog!
    • Podcast
      Simple audio recording, easy to edit, convenient to consume, inexpensive and quick to produce. 17% of marketers plan to add podcasting to their marketing efforts in the next 12 months. For a step-by-step guide, how to Start a Podcast check this here.
    Flyability, Switzerland, provider of solutions for the inspection and exploration of indoor, inaccessible, and confined spaces. Great Podcast series & more.
    • Meetup & Network events
      In 2018, Atomico reports about 15’000 Tech related meetups in each Paris and Berlin, 30’000 in London alone. Meetups can be a very powerful and cheap way to connect with your audience. It allows you to explain your solution and build a community around your brand.
    LuckaBox, Switzerland a last mile platform for logistics, recently launched its own Meetup
    • Live or online Training seminar
      Workshop format built around your solution. You might consider also providing some online training as lead generation to your main business. Based on the right content, it can be scalable and promotes you as expert in a field. Consider Udemy, Teachable and more.
    Flokk by Iart, Switzerland, an open platform for implementing interactive light installations without coding. Here Hands-on workshop at Architecture Biennalle, Beijing 2018
    • Video
      Video is a must have nowadays; combined with landing pages can increase conversion by 86%. Vary your format from short social media teaser, to company overview to ‘How-to-Video’. A nice infographic by Hubspot and more B2B Video examples here.
    Inopsys, Belgium, Advanced industrial wastewater treatment solutions, Janssen Pharmaceutical Testimonial Video
    • Product Configurator
      An online product Configurator is great to automate your product features selection. Gartner estimates in 2018, 40% of B2B digital commerce sites to use Configure, Price, Quote (CPQ) tools.
      Your challenge is adoption. Start small using Google Form or a Web Editor before expanding functionalities.
    Up2Parts, Germany, Revolution in Digital Manufacturing. Advanced Online Configurator
    • Open Source & Freemium models
      Providing a free(mium) Open Source solution can drive great business traction. It is powerful to ‘Try-before-your-buy’, build a community of users as an asset or generate a larger hardware installed base.
    Klepsydra Technologies, Switzerland software for faster embedded computing performance, releasing an Open Source version
    • Industry Trade show
      As a startup, forget your expensive own booth. Instead, join the booth of a large established player. Apply for Call For Paper to be on stage, alongside a well-known partner if possible! Take on comfortable shoes to walk the floor and meet prospect customers.
    Neural Concept, Switzerland, 3D Deep Learning Software for Enhanced Engineering @ Nvidia Booth Supercomputing 2018

    Now that we have decided on the type of content we want to deliver, we need some tools for an efficient content ‘production’.

    THE PRODUCTION – Making it happen !

    There are many great (free) design tools to help you be efficient. But do not get distracted – the ‘Design’ part of the content is the easy bit.

    The hard part is to work, re-work and fine tune your content. It is old fashion but it forces you to think through key items : audience, wording, problem, solution, features, benefits…
    Forget the font, color & co for now…

    Knowing that you could work on the detailed ‘content’ forever, now you feel good about it. Ready to tackle the ‘design’ !

    Below is a list of tools we use every day… powerful & easy to use

    • Canva great for quick & professional looking design
    • Gimp open source graphics editor for image retouching and editing
    • Lightworks open source video editing software
    • WordPress simple web editor for professional outcome
    • to create, host and broadcast your podcast

    But of course the content is only a means to an end… so let’s get into action.

    CALL TO ACTION – turning your Content into Sales

    After the Acquisition comes the Activation phase. Whatever your established goals are, it is critical to ensure you have a Call To Action.

    If your business relies on a large community of users, consider having a sign-up landing page. Strategic landing pages are used by 68% of B2B businesses to acquire leads.

    But of course, most Tech solutions need to build a personal rapport with your prospective clients. Be prepared to share details about your solution in online call, live or recorded demo and a personal sales meeting.

    Tech Content Marketing is a wide topic! This content marketing guide for Tech Entrepreneurs is to trigger thoughts and actions. Since we all can benefit from everyone insights, we invite you to comment and share your experience.

    Note: many statistics from