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The 3 Biggest Lies in Content Marketing

Content marketing has exploded over the past few years. It seems like you can’t go a day without hearing how a hot new startup managed to grow from $0 to $20,000 in monthly recurring revenue in 6-months using only their blog and social media.  But in your own experience, you know it isn’t that simple.

So what gives?  What do those successful startups know about content marketing that you don’t?

Content marketing is a powerful tool, unfortunately the so called “experts” in the industry rarely tell you the whole story.  The startups that are making content marketing work were able to cut through all the bullshit being pumped out by the gurus, figure out what actually drives results, and execute.

I’ve identified the 3 biggest lies about content marketing, and how you can overcome them to get you the results you keep reading about.

Lie #1: Good content is all you need to attract an audience

Empty Theater
"Where is everybody?"

This is the lie that hurts the most.  We want to believe that marketing is as simple as submitting our startup to a few sites and watching it take off, but rarely does that happen.

Has a single submission to Hacker News really caused a company to go viral and achieve hockey stick growth nearly overnight? Probably, but those are the black swans of the world and they don’t offer you a repeatable process that you can learn from.

We have to stop kidding ourselves.  If all you needed to do to make your startup a success was submit it to the right combination of websites, wouldn’t everybody be successful?

Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come.  You need a plan to attract an audience, and no, hoping it gets submitted to Product Hunt is not a plan.

Lie #2: Blog readers will magically hand over their money

It feels amazing to see a piece you wrote being shared by dozens of people and viewed thousands of times, but if it doesn’t lead to any new customers, does it really help you? NO!

The goal of content marketing is to get more customers, pageviews are nothing more than a vanity metric.  Views may feed your ego, but they don’t put food on the table unless they buy.

Shut Up and Take My Money!
If only it were so easy.

Your readers aren’t going to just hand over their money because you wrote a few good blogs.  Use your content to capture their attention, educate them on how your product can solve their problems, and then ask for the sale.

Sure, a few people will explore your site on their own, do some extra research, and eventually become customers.  This small group of people are what keep the lie going!  I won’t argue with that, and it’s why so many startups can get to $5k, $10k or even more in monthly recurring revenue without having a real plan.  BUT you will not be able to scale unless you have a system that actively, and repeatedly, works to get the sale.

If you want your readers to become customers, you have to ask them.  Stop relying on chance.

Lie #3: Facebook Ads Don’t Work

In the startup community, the title of “marketer” often has some pretty negative connotations and probably conjures up images of guys like this:

Matthew Lesko Picture

I’m also sure you’ve seen the stories that come around every few months with headlines like “Facebook Ads Don’t Work” or “Facebook Advertising is Dead.”  The problem is, the people complaining about Facebook ads aren’t using them right.  Either they had the wrong goal (generating likes), the wrong targeting (didn’t remove developing countries outside their market), or didn’t have systems in place to convert that traffic into customers.

You can’t just slap a sales page up, point some ads at it, and expect to be swimming in money overnight.  But with a little bit of planning and hard work, almost any business can achieve real results with Facebook ads.  There are 1.2 BILLION people on Facebook and I can assure you that your customers are as well.

There is no advertising platform out there today that has the immense audience of Facebook while providing laser focused targeting and making it affordable to get started.  Don’t write them off without doing your own research.  If you could invest $1 in order to get $2, $5, or even $10 back, would you? Of course!  Facebook ads can make this a reality. 

You didn’t start your company to pick up a few customers here and there and slowly plod along. 

You know the infamous “hockey stick” may be unrealistic, but you still want real growth.  Growth that would help you close a round of funding, bring on an employee, or even just ease the stress of wondering where your next customer will come from.

Building a business isn’t easy. If I’m being real with you, most of the time building a business sucks. The parts of the business that got you excited about starting one of your own are often the things you end up spending the least amount of time doing.

You know you need to do some marketing, but you don’t really want to, especially when there are so many other things that need to get done.  That’s why these lies are able to spread; people want them to be true.

They want to be able to write a few blog posts and watch the customers pour in so they can get back to work on the rest of their business.  Wouldn’t that be nice?

While that isn’t how things actually work in reality, fixing your content marketing doesn’t need to be complicated.

Turning your content marketing around only requires 3 things:

1. Re-evaluate how you approach content marketing from the ground up
2. Set the right goals (i.e. customers, not pageviews)
3. Put systems in place to help you achieve those goals

The sooner you commit to tackling these issues, the sooner your business will start growing the way you know it can.