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Startups don’t have time for vanity. Every marketing activity you do needs to reinforce at least one specific business goal.

When I ask startup founders and marketing managers, about their goals for blog and social media content, they mention a desire to raise product or brand awareness more than anything else.

So, reader, when was the last time you randomly stumbled on a company’s blog post, when you weren’t searching for that specific company or its product? When was the last time you saw a non-sponsored social media post for a company you didn’t already know about?

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It happens, but it’s rare.

For most content, in most industries, only 20-30% of your blog readers or social media subscribers will arrive through shares, retweets, and organic searches that don’t include the name of your company or product.

Content aimed at raising awareness needs a push to get out to a new audience. That push could be an ad, a sponsored Facebook post, a review by an influencer, or an article on a blog or other news outlet. Posting something on your own blog doesn’t give it that push.

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So why do we write about our own startups on our own channels?

In the rush for visitors and other easily measurable indicators of traction, startups often ignore the equally important cousin of awareness: Consideration.

Swaying consideration is especially important for high-involvement products that are expensive, personal or long-lasting enough to warrant some research.

In the traditional, linear sales funnel, this happens during the appropriately named “consideration” stage. In McKinsey’s Consumer Decision Journey it takes place during active evaluation. Potential customers start with an initial consideration set of brands or products, and then research their options, adding new brands and subtracting existing ones as they refine their preferences. Eventually they arrive at a final purchase decision.

For startups, this means your social media content should be less about raising awareness and more about helping potential customers to understand the value that you offer.

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Here are a few types of value-driven content that boost consideration:

  • How-to:
    • If someone buys your product, how do they get the most out of it.
    • Be specific about ways to use it, going beyond the basics.
    • Think in if-then scenarios.
  • Case studies:
    • Related to the how-to, the case study is a how-did.
    • Deliver the case study as a narrative story and avoid jargon.
    • Follow the STAR format, where first you explain the Situation, then the Task, then the Action you took and finally the Result.
    • Consider letting your customer tell their own story, either in an interview format or as a guest post.
  • Behind the scenes:
    • Give people a look at how you make the sausage.
    • The popularity of both crowdfunding and reality TV show how much people want to get a look at what’s ordinarily hidden. Use this to your advantage.
    • People want to connect to your brand in a way that helps them identify with you as people, rather than just as another quick retail fix.