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4 common pitfalls startups make with content marketing

Very few startups have mastered how to effectively develop their customer relationships through content marketing. Here's why.

Think harder about how you're telling your story. (Photo by Flickr user Philippe Lewicki, used under a Creative Commons license)
This is a guest post by Nadia James, the founder of Griot Digital, a Philly-based content marketing consultancy.

With all the hype surrounding content marketing, many startups start a blog or play around on social media without a clear plan. The results are disappointing. They’re doing all the right things, and getting little in return — or at least that’s what they think.
It’s likely that these struggling startups are falling for one (or all) of these 4 common pitfalls:

1. Building a low-quality content machine

Web content overloaded with technical jargon and popular search keywords are as annoying as people “blowing smoke” and are likewise polluting the internet. Your website should be just as easy to understand and powerful at communicating your startup’s value as your elevator pitch. The myth that simply posting some text online will drive measurable results for your startup is not true.
Consider how many of your site’s visitors are converting into high-quality buyers or future business leads. Take a hard look at the content on your site and ask yourself, “Would I read this if it weren’t produced by my startup? Is this content memorable?”
Although the topics your content addresses may vary, your overarching messaging should always reflect why your startup is one of a kind. Hundreds if not thousands of businesses offer similar products and services in today’s globalized economy. Startups must continually remind the public what differentiates them from the status quo.

2. Waiting to be discovered

The saying “if you build it they will come” simply doesn’t apply to the internet.
You must attract customers to your startup’s content. There are many ways to accomplish this with content marketing. Has your website been optimized so that your content is easily found by relevant search engine users? Are you pushing your content into environments your target customers frequent? Are you using content to lead conversations and build relationships with customers? No matter how awesome your product or service is, your startup will struggle if you aren’t proactively reaching prospective customers.
(Guilty of any of these mistakes? Learn how to drive content marketing ROI in a free, three-day workshop happening in Philly this month. The first session is March 4.)

3. Being everywhere the people are

Money is not the only resource that’s scarce in the early days of building a startup. Time is equally as precious.
Just as you shouldn’t attend every networking event or conference in town, your startup doesn’t need to have a presence on every social media network or content distribution channel. The age old adage “fish where the fish are” isn’t enough when considering which social networks and other online communities your startup should invest time or money in. Startups must rather “fish where the fish are inclined to take the bait.”
First, research how many people who match your target audience are using those social networks or reading those blogs and media outlets, and then determine why they value the content they find in that environment. Not every environment will be ideal for delivering content to your customers.

4. Not setting targets and objectives

This is the biggest pitfall of them all. Without clear objectives you can’t test or measure the effectiveness of your content marketing. It all comes down to these five words: “What gets measured, gets managed.”
The goal of driving revenue is consistent across every function of any business, but the means to achieving this goal can vary when it comes to content marketing. A startup selling a product or service with a low price point, for instance, can focus on driving mass awareness while a startup selling high priced products should focus on boosting their reputation.
The objectives you set for your content marketing plan should reflect your customer development goals. Only then can a startup adequately measure and test how effective their content marketing efforts are at moving prospects through the buying process.


Too many startups are investing time and money in content marketing, and driving lackluster results due to these common pitfalls. The best way to protect your startup from this fate is to learn the fundamental principles and techniques of content marketing that drive traction and revenue growth.
That’s why Griot Digital has partnered with Philly Startup Leaders to offer a free, three-day workshop that will teach startup founders how to boost the ROI of their content marketing efforts. You’ll leave knowing:

  • What social networks make sense for your business
  • How to boost high quality traffic to your site
  • How to write content people actually want to read
  • How to leverage content marketing to build relationships with influential bloggers and publishers
  • How to convert site visitors into prospects
  • How to optimize every aspect of your strategy
Register now
Companies: Griot Digital / Philly Startup Leaders

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