As a strategist and writer, I help people get their thoughts and expertise out to the people who need it. This takes a lot of different forms, but the primary way we distribute content is in written form. You would not believe how many times I hear, “I’m not a writer.” My response is usually something like, “yes, you are, you’re just overthinking it.”
Let me just say: If you are qualified to start a company, raise money or build a software product – you are qualified to write.
Many of the startup companies we talk to are so passionate about their products, are extremely knowledgeable about their market and know the problem they’re solving like the back of their hand. It is for these reasons that we encourage startup founders to write their own content as opposed to us writing it for them. Here are a few more reasons every startup founder should write.
You’re the only one who knows your story at this point
Writing for a company that has been around a while and has amassed a lot of content in the market is easy to write for. A startup company is a bit more of a challenge. We’re creating everything from scratch. It is vitally important at this early stage in the game that everything we publish is building credibility for your new company.
Think of it this way: every piece of content you publish as a startup company builds the foundation of your digital footprint. Don’t you want to be the source of this important and pivotal content? Take a look at the Buffer Blog for a great example of a company that took content seriously from the beginning. Who was doing the blogging? Founders, Joel and Leo.
You are the closest to your customers
In the beginning, it’s likely that the founder of the startup organization is wearing all the hats – product manager, sales, marketing, customer service, support and fulfillment. If they’re smart, the founder will learn everything they possibly can from this high-touch, multi-discipline phase in their company. At this stage, you have first-hand access to customers, they’re struggles, their complaints, their successes and how your product/service fits into their unique world. Let me emphasize: you will never again be on the front lines in this way, so soak up all you can. This intimate time with your target market will become the cornerstone of your company. Use it wisely. And write about it! Speak right to the heart of the matter because you know what it is! You will be amazed at the level to which this will catapult your communication efforts.
Someone who understands this concept is international author and founder of Duct Tape Marketing, John Jantsch. Over coffee a couple weeks back, he told me he still does some client work so he can stay in touch and stay sharp about his customers’ needs. Even though he is far from startup mode and has a small army of consultants to do a lot of the work, he still understands the value of being on the front line and deliberately goes there.
You need to hear the conversation
The previous point leads right into my final point. You, the founder, the genius behind the whole thing, need to write because you are the one closest to your customers, and this gets to be a two-way conversation. In the equation, listening to your audience is perhaps more important than talking to them. It is in listening to them that you can better know them, better understand their concerns and can adapt your product/service to address their concerns. Founder to founder: don’t rely solely on your analytics to tell you what’s happening in your digital ecosystem. Get involved with the people behind the numbers, start listening to the words they use, the feelings they express and the ideas they have. The best founders show their audience they’re really listening.
At a previous startup, I made it my goal to talk to each one of my early-adopter customers personally during the product’s beta period. This proved to be absolutely vital to the growth of the company. Not only did I completely surprise and delight my users by giving them a personal call, I learned so much about how my product was being applied in the market, what trigger points caused them to seek my solution, heard success stories and heard about how my product provided hero moments for them. That exercise alone changed everything. It changed the copy on the website, helped me refine my sales documentation and ultimately led to a stronger marketing message. Don’t skip the listening. It’s crucial to your marketing success.
If you are the founder of a startup company, you are an expert in something. And the fact of the matter is, experts write. And even though I firmly believe that you can write, let’s say you feel quite strongly that you cannot even string 5 words together to make a sentence. You can still be the primary content contributor; you’ll just have to get creative. We can pull the genius out of our clients in many different ways. We interview them, they give us bullet points and references to cite, they leave us a voicemail and “talk out” their post, sometimes they include us on customer calls so we can hear the conversation. However it needs to happen, make sure that in these critical founding years, you, the founder, are building a solid content foundation.