Strategy & Planning

BSMS 30 - Why you should invest in content early

Content is king. But why? And how do you approach it?


 

Today we celebrate 30 episodes. We talk about founder made content, and how important it is to invest in content for your company early on (hint: very). We also give some tips on how you should approach making content, and talk about our own journey. It’s not as hard or time consuming as you might think, but it pays dividends.

Episode Transcript:

Mike: 

Hello and welcome to episode 30 of B2B SaaS Marketing Snacks. I can't believe that we're at episode 30 and I can't believe it's been just over a year since we started this podcast and it's been phenomenal and so much fun. And it's been really great hearing from our listeners, which are people like you. So thank you for listening and choosing to spend your time with us. Really, really appreciate it. At the end of the day, the whole reason we do this is to create things for you that hopefully you find valuable. So if you do, we'd love to hear from you. And if there's other topics and things that you want to hear from us, definitely let us know. We do take feedback into account when we're creating our content plan. You can find us both on LinkedIn, Stijn Hendrikse, and Mike Northfield.

You can also go to our website, Kalungi.com. There's a couple of places that you can engage with us there, but yeah, let us know. If you really enjoy the podcast, feel free to leave us a review on whatever platform that you're listening on — that helps other people find us. And yeah, we really appreciate you. So thanks for tagging along for all this time. And if you're new, welcome. Thanks for joining.

In today's episode, we talk about why as a founder or early team member, you should be investing heavily in content and why it's so hugely important for companies to invest in it early on. And we tell a story from our own experience, doing this at Kalungi and kind of our own content journey, and also give you a bit of a framework on how you can systematize it and make it a little bit easier for yourself. It doesn't need to be this big, scary thing. It doesn't have to be a huge time investment, but you do have to be thoughtful about it. And that's what we talk about today. So without further ado, I’ll let the podcast do the rest of the talking. Thanks again for spending the time with us and let's get into it.

Stijn:

Why you start blogging on day one — why a founder should start blogging on day one.

Mike: 

So we're just going to keep going on the book content. I think there's a lot of good stuff in here, and it's fun to give previews. There's a title that you have on one of these pages and it says, "Place your bets on the right horse: you." And the section goes on to essentially describe how, as a software founder, you are in a really unique position where you have so much knowledge about the problem that you are solving and how your customers can use your solution to solve it better than the old way of doing things.

And you have such good perspective around that, that if you're not documenting those thoughts into content, then you're doing yourself and your company a disservice, which I agree with 100%. I think it's a really good point. And it's something that I think not enough companies do. A lot of the companies that we work with, often the founder or founders used to work in some type of consultancy or agency where they were solving for an example, like an accounts receivable consultant who worked in a very specific niche, and they realized that the software tools that were available to them were just really bad, or maybe it was just Excel.

And so they set out to build something that would solve that problem for anybody in that same role. And so they have all of this domain knowledge. And you have this really cool chart that is the story of Kalungi's actual content journey, so to speak. And it basically plots the number of blogs posted over time versus the amount of organic search traffic that our website has gotten over time. And so in the first year, there's this really big spike. And I think there's collectively, maybe, I don't know, 90 blogs posted. Something like that and not necessarily long. Some of them were very short, they answered a very specific question. And we have another episode called how to get started with content marketing, where we talk about how you can actually... There's a framework for going and doing this. It doesn't need to be this big, long drawn out thing.

But you can see that there's this big spike in the beginning in terms of how much content you produce. And then over time, you start to see this gradual ramp and then slowly it kind of, it starts to explode in terms of the organic search traffic that we've gotten. And you can do this as a software company. I think again, not enough do it, but if you are creating content as an early team member, someone with the domain knowledge, I think our company is a really good example.

Stijn, I would say 95% of those blog posts came from you. And a lot of the people on our team saw what effect that could have, and it really ingrained that culture into our company, like everybody produces content. Everybody likes to. If you get an email from a client and you have a feeling that email is going to come again or a question, document it and turn it into a blog, so that next time you don't have to answer it in an email, you can just send them the blog. And as you were saying-

Stijn:

And at some point you turn it into a book.

Mike:

Yeah. And at some point, exactly. Right. And at some point too, if you're actually answering questions that your customers have, that content can become a part of your product, right? So it can become help documentation, it could become frameworks or templates. You can turn those how to guides into lead magnets to help your prospects find you or do their jobs better. So, anyways, I just wanted to... I really think that this is an important topic.

I think it's really hard to get early stage founders on board with the idea of creating content, because they have this idea that it will take so much time. And writing is hard. It's hard to sit down and write. And if you're a self-proclaimed bad writer, it can be tough to come up with the ideas and to put things down on paper. So I guess two things, two questions for you. One is, do you have any advice for other founders to help them jump into that process of creating? I guess that's really it. That's the only question.

Stijn:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh man. I'm so passionate about this topic, Mike. I think every early stage company has a founder or multiple founders who are either subject matter experts in their field, about the problem they're trying to solve, or they are extremely smart engineers who have found a problem that maybe it's not their field, but they just have some ideas to solve it in new, different ways. And both are amazing sources for thought leadership content, if you don't over-complicate it. If you just think about the questions you're asking yourself, you're asking your early customers here, you're brainstorming about with your team and how valuable it would be for you to write those down early, especially because your thoughts might change over time. And those early thoughts are maybe very, very helpful for many people who are going to consider your product over time, or are maybe helping you build the product.

It is really critical for an early stage founder to invest time in writing those things down. And then writing them as a blog and publishing those is super easy these days. It helps you in many different ways. Things like Google, they report the length of you having an online presence. So the earlier you start with these things, the earlier things like search authority, domain authority on your website will start improving. Volume is fine early on. If you publish things that are not that great, Google will filter those out because people will not stay on the page very long, and those will not be seen by many people. So it's fine. Don't worry too much about what your mechanics are to publish these things or even the quality of the writing. The last year, two years probably, product led growth has become a very important part of how companies, especially SaaS companies grow.

And you can argue that in the early stages of a company, a lot of your product is your content. It is about how you're communicating the value that you're adding to the market, this new thing that you're building. You're creating content based on what you're learning from your early customers. So product led growth starts kind of with content led growth. So again, as an early stage founder, you got to start publishing. It's not hard. You can... I remember when we started Kalungi... Well, I started Kalungi. I was alone, right? There was a second person, maybe a couple of weeks in, but we were really only starting to test some of the ideas that we had. I was doing fractional CMO work. Being the chief marketing officer, did some board work for early stage software companies. And the only thing that my blogs really were was just a written version of an email that I was answering to someone, right.

Someone asked me a question, a B2B SaaS CEO, right. Then I said, okay, instead of just sending back an email, let me turn this into a blog article because I've actually had this question multiple times. Those were those first 50, 60 blogs that we did at Kalungi, where a lot of that was very tactical, very utility. Like one of the best performing blogs at Kalungi is “What's the difference between an SDR and BDR?” You know where that blog came from, Mike? It was a question I got probably 20 times from CEOs who were investing in sales. And they just didn't know how to think about those things. At some point, you just write a blog. And you think sometimes that the topics that you could write about are already covered by someone or are not that important. If you Google it and you don't find a great answer, then it's probably important enough for you to spend time writing about it.

It also helps you as an early stage founder to find your niche and to test if your niche is actually worth pursuing, right? Because if there are a ton of questions that are not answered today, that you can help answer then there's probably value in you also servicing that part of the market, right? Because the part of the market exists, since the questions are not being answered, there's nobody else probably servicing that market very well. And since there are questions, the niche actually exists, right?

So if you think of that as being your early stage founder bet of your very limited bandwidth to spend on this, it is not just about writing a couple of blogs. It's helping you set your strategy, confirming that strategy, helping you to learn how to improve your product, think about what your team should be working on. So, yeah, that's a long answer to your question.

Mike:

Yeah. And I think it's also to your point where it's.... your content is your product. It can be used for so many things in addition to building awareness or sending it to prospects, it can be used to train your internal team on your thoughts, right. It can become a part of the onboarding process for anybody learning the product or the actual problem. You send them kind of a checklist of articles to read and suddenly the thoughts that were in your brain, that becomes a systematized kind of approach, right? The other thing that you touched on for a second is that volume is important. And of course it doesn't mean that you can be writing poor content. I think you always have to be adding value, educating people, showing expertise and helping people do their current job better.

So it has to actually be helpful content, but you're right. Throwing things out there, sometimes you never know. Like you can write something and think that it might rank, but suddenly Google will pick up one of your articles that you were just not expecting and you won't know unless it's published. But the Pareto Principle definitely applies, like 20% of our content drives 80% of the results on our website. And if you were to ask me to guess, if you took all the metrics away and said, guess which of these pieces would drive the results, I probably wouldn't give you the ones that are actually creating results, so.

Stijn:

Pareto is always right. And Pareto is very hard to predict. That's why we live in a world that's governed by long tail loss, right? The amount of music that people like has exponentially grown in the last 20 years, because it's possible to like a lot of fringe things, right? And same goes to these blog topics, right, especially if you want to nail a niche. The topics that are going to be valuable for your niche audience are not going to be easy to predict. So volume is king there early on. And as per my earlier comment, Google will filter out things that are really bad. I think when we say don't spam people, don't create noise, don't build bad content, it mostly... It applies to the things that you send to people, that you force on people, but when it comes to content that's going to be find-able organically, I don't think you need to worry about that, that much.

I think volume is better. I mean, I think the most ever watched TV show in the United States are a couple of Super Bowls. They're actually the two that the Seahawks actually played in. The one they won and the other one they lost against the Patriots. It's interesting in a big PDF, those are the most watched TV shows of all time here in the US but they are part of a very long list. And I don't think anybody would have predicted that the two Superbowls that the Seahawks played in actually made it to the top. Nobody knew. And luckily, they played many, many Super Bowls over the years. Just like, I think you should publish a lot of blogs. And then you'll be surprised maybe what shows up at the top of the rankings.

Mike:

100%.

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