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How I and other startups cracked content marketing and made businesses

“Hey, I attracted a lot of paying customers through content marketing. You must write a blog and tons of traffic will come to your website.”

I often heard this statement from my startup friends when I started my second startup StagePhod.com

Result, I installed wordpress and started writing something on my blog. But writing ‘something’ never worked in my favor.

Current Digital marketing scenario

Content-marketing-stagephod

I was/ am not a professional writer and did not have money to hire a content marketing consultant or writer. I was not getting any traffic on my blog so I stopped writing and shifted to other customer acquisition channels.

Bootstrapped startups rely on free marketing channels like SEO, Social Media, Email, and word of mouth.  

Unfortunately, traditional SEO is almost dead, you will get penalized by Google if you try black hat SEO tricks.

Facebook has almost killed its organic reach (do not know how facebook’s ‘audience optimization feature’ will come out). If you have 10,000 fans on facebook page and share any status, you will only reach to 1000 people until you pay to facebook. Surprising, you have to pay to reach out to your own facebook page audience.

Most of people are on Gmail but email marketing becomes less effective after the introduction of promotion tab within gmail. People are almost non responsive to cold emails and cold calls.

Every fucking day, I was trying hard to get attention from online audience but I was failing consistently. I tried almost everything in organic marketing but nothing worked.

It was live or die moment for me. I decided to focus on content marketing again and stopped doing all the bullshit.

Content marketing is a slow process but it paid me well in the long run. I survived and became a profitable startup within a year.  

My experiment with content marketing

cmworld13-robertrose-quote-stagephod

As we are in video creation space, the obvious topic which comes to mind immediately is to write about

  • Why video marketing is important for your startup
  • How videos can be used in sales, hiring, training, branding and product marketing
  • What is the cost of low budget and high budget video projects
  • From where you can find video makers or alternate ways to make your videos yourself
  • How to make a video viral and leave the impact on your audience

I started writing about video marketing. I wrote some stuff but it was more of gyan articles. I was writing stuff which people already knew.

A quick research suggested that a lot has been written about video marketing for Americans and Europeans but not in the Indian context.

I was excited with the insight (..read secret information) and decided to write my articles with Indian tadka. But again, I was disappointed with the results. The reason I suspected is that people do not like to read about video marketing unless they are specifically looking for it.

Content that worked for me

ONLINE-VIDEO-MARKETING-GARY-VAYNERCHUK-Stagephod

I thought of writing content on topics that people are looking for. I wrote a couple of article on my entrepreneurial journey, my story of starting up stagephod, and why startup founders should not listen to everyone’s advice.

I was able to connect with the startup founders. Then I shared article on simplifying video making process for startups that fetched us 45 video orders. I wrote articles from my own experience and able to help a lot of startups. You can learn how stagephod acquired 100+ clients without spending any money on the marketing.

I also found my co-founder through expressing my honest thoughts via a blog post. All these articles gave us much desired traffic and traction. We became first choice for the startups looking out for honest dealing and transparent pricing. Currently we have 150+ clients and also created a TV commercial for MySmartPrice.


So what type of content generally works in India?

When a certain type of content worked for me, I did some research on what kind of content is working for others.

  • Creating content around people (target market)
  • Incorporating bollywood, cricket, politics angle with your service/ product
  • Sharing your learning/experience
  • Sharing insightful content around your product/ service/ industry which are useful for your audience
  • Curate interesting content keeping your target audience in mind

Indian startups and content creators who mastered the content in recent times

Harsh Agrawal (Founder of ShoutMeLoud)

Harsh Agrawal is the founder of shoutmeloud, a blog scientist. He writes in-depth content on wordpress blogging and affiliate marketing. He knows his target audience very well and writes to the point topics those are being loved by his readers. He started blogging in 2008 and now shares his blogging knowledge with the entire world.

He openly writes about his income from blogging. Checkout Harsh’s Income Report.

Shradha Sharma (Founder of YourStory)

Shradha is one of most respected names in Indian startup media. She started YourStory in 2008 because she believed that every story is unique and every story matters. YourStory has written stories of more than 15,000 entrepreneurs. Today, YourStory is number one choice for startups to get featured and share their success/failure story.

Shradha built a successful business over content platform which has been funded by legend Ratan Tata.

Deepak Kanakaraju

Deepak is a Bangalore based digital marketing consultant and blogger. Deepak started his first blog in 2008 about bikes and experimented a lot with content marketing. Deepak’s marketing blog is widely read about marketing advice. He has worked with big brands like Practo, Ziwame and Homeshop18 to help in digital content.  

Sorav Jain

Sorav is an entrepreneur, digital marketing consultant and founder of echoVME. He has attracted a lot of traffic on his website through his trainings on content marketing. He has established himself as renowned digital marketer and built a profitable business. He has also written a book ‘Social Media for Business’ which looks like a part of his content marketing strategy.

Waqar Azmi, Founder – SutraHR

SutraHR is one of the biggest bootstrapped startup stories of present times. Their target audience is startups and corporates so they write content related to entrepreneurship and the job scenario in India. Their most liked articles are Top 100 startups to watch in 2016 and Flipkart’s new office video.

They used a growth hack that you have to like or share the article in order to see the full content. Whether it’s right or wrong is always debatable but it definitely gave them results.

Pardeep Goyal

Pardeep is one of the most followed writers in India currently when it comes to topics like startups, entrepreneurship, failures and productivity. He writes directly from his heart and share the success and failure of his startups. If you observe his writing closely, you will find that he shares a lot of insights with brutal honesty.

He has written lots of awesome articles which got published on startup media like YourStory, NextBigWhat, Inc42. Pardeep is head of content marketing at healthcare startup AddoDoc.

Aashish Chopra

Aashish Chopra is an award winning viral video marketer, having made and marketed videos with millions of shares and gazillion views, with one becoming Asia’s most shared branded Facebook post (Campaign Asia) and other getting 40 million views in a week. He also won the Content Marketer of the year in February 2016. He is passionate about content and believes that in the times of declining attention spans and chaotic news-feeds, creativity is the differentiator. He heads content marketing at ixigo. From ideation to execution he has been instrumental in making video marketing a growth hack for ixigo. From driving app installs, to skyrocketing reach with videos. “In today’s fast evolving digital landscape, social media strategy for any brand revolves around remarkable content. Content must be compelling and share-worthy, period. Every brand today is turning into a media company.” he affirms. Before diving into video marketing, Aashish was active in visual content marketing, with several Infographics going viral on Slideshare. He lives in Gurgaon, and is dealing with the everyday challenges of having a cat

Conclusion

All the above people do not have any profession training or degree in creating content but their content is liked by thousands of people. I think, the reason why people like their content is because it was created intuitively. So the biggest takeaway is to understand your target audience and write content to solve their problems.

Twitter – @Stagephod

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5 Comments

  1. hi nikhilesh,

    you’ve been posting regularly on therodinhoods (so have pardeep and aashish btw!!) – i’m curious to know if that has ever benefitted you in your content marketing at all? 

    did you get some traction/queries/leads after posting on trh? 

    also, as a content community (not portal or media – we are a community, which as you know has a different kind of format) what should we be doing to achieve the kind of content marketing level you and others have cracked??

    will look forward to your detailed advice!!

    many thanks in advance 🙂

  2. Great Article Nikhilesh.

    You sure have come a long way in perfecting the art of storytelling. The description of all content geniuses is to the point and accurate.

    As a Digital Marketer i can second to the point that all the Content masters you have mentioned are geniuses who have cracked the content marketing genie. Thanks for giving all Rodinhooders a go to place for the best content marketers in the Indian Subcontinent.

    I also stumbled upon a really useful piece on content marketing, which shows how we as content marketers can survive in an era where just about everyone has CONTENT on top of their marketing agenda, thereby clogging the content pipelines of the users. You should definitely give it a read:

    http://www.slideshare.net/dougkessler/crap-the-content-marketing-deluge/

    Thanks again for the wonderful tips. 

    Cheers!

  3. excellent! Check this out:

    Games2win’s latest game ‘Miranda Sings Vs Haters’ (iTunes/Android) was built in collaboration with Global Top 10 YouTube celebrity Colleen Ballinger aka ‘Miranda Sings’. The game reached the top ranks on the iTunes USA charts on the weekend of 3rd December 2015. This was achieved without any user acquisition, media spends or iTunes USA promotions.

    For us at Games2win, this was reminiscent of our glory moment when Parking Frenzy topped all the charts worldwide.

    What did we do and what were the learnings we applied to achieve these coveted ranks with Miranda Sings?

    1. We worked with a ‘Digital Celebrity’!

    Our humble experience has taught us that Celebrities who are ‘digital natives’ truly understand digital brand franchises (our game in this case) and are completely committed to making new ideas succeed. Colleen Ballinger (Miranda) worked dedicatedly with us through the 4 month production cycle of the game and was involved in the smallest of nitty-gritties to make the game amazingly true to her style and in sync with what her fans love!

    2. We worked for a Target Audience we really understand!

    Games2win has been successful in entertaining tween girls & boys with Dress Up games and Driving and Parking games (yeah!). Over the past 7 years, we have entertained over 100 million tweens across US and other western markets. When we started discussing this game with Colleen, we were very pleased to learn that she is recognized as a SUPER STAR by our target audience. We excitedly took on the project of building this game for our audience, knowing they would be delighted by who the game represented!

    3. We focused on details, details, details!

    Consider this real wall in Colleen’s home. We were inspired by it and meticulously recreated the same in a level of the game. While we wanted to make the game look as real as Miranda’s life as possible, what really made us happy was this tweet we received from one of Miranda’s fans! It proved that attention to detail delivers loads of delight!

    4. We used Sounds, Music and Extras to Enhance the Experience!

    ‘Miranda Sings Vs Haters’ is a hidden object game and while it is quite casual and lightweight, we leveraged lots of sounds, music and Miranda’s real voice to create a uniquely magical experience. Miranda recorded around 50 – 60 dialogues for the game and we also created a ton of her ‘expressions’ that were sold as in-app purchases in the game. Miranda’s fans (Mirfandas) really liked the extras and reciprocated with much feedback and love! Take a look at Miranda’s reaction to the game:

     

    5. We focused on Game Experience (GX) above all!

    We have learned the hard way that no matter how celebrated the IP or how extensive the promotions (in this case we had no love from iTunes nor any media spends to promote the game), what always boosts game ranking and popularity is a delightful, awesome, fantastically amazing game experience we call GX. GX is a combination of game engine selection (we chose hidden object and mini puzzles), UI, UX and just the ‘fun feel’ of a game. And what is the testimony for great GX? User ratings and reviews of course! The ‘Miranda Sings vs Haters’ game scored massive ratings- 4.9 and 4.9 on iTunes and Google Play and generated an avalanche of very positive reviews. The volume of ratings and reviews beat even the games ahead of us in ranks! This unique combination of great IP & awesome GX made us reach our top ranked positions! Images of game ratings and reviews on the store:

    Games2win is committed to creating awesome games and looks forward to working with celebrities and stars! If you have any queries, please mail – alok@games2win.com (CEO).

    ****

  4. Brilliant!

    Thanks for sharing Alok!

  5. Hahahaha! Good Information thanks for sharing Sir.

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