Every Friday, we’re answering your questions about business, startups, customer success and more.
In our new Groove Friday Q & A segment, we’re answering any questions that you have about, well, anything.
A huge thank you to Ngan Pham, James McBryan and Brandon Landis for this week’s questions.
Check out this week’s answers below, and jump in with your own thoughts in the comments!
Should you hire a content marketing agency, or do it yourself?
Obviously, we do things ourselves here, but I don’t think either path is wrong.
I think one key question that you should ask yourself, which Hiten Shah shared in his interview on our blog, is: do you have more time or money?
7) You and Neil have always gotten “a lot from a little” with regard to marketing budget. What are some examples of strategies or tactics that have delivered ridiculously outsized value for you?
It’s all about finding opportunities and figuring out whether you have time or money.
If you have time, spend your time on the highest leverage things you can do for your business right now. If you have money, figure out how to spend your money as efficiently as possible by running as many simultaneous small experiments that you can.
With Crazy Egg we had money that we were making from our consulting business so we found a high leverage (cheap and targeted) traffic source in all the CSS galleries that were popular at the time. So we spent a bit of money to buy ads on these CSS gallery website that directed people to the Crazy Egg early access homepage. It worked and resulted in over 23k email sign ups before we publicly released the product.
With KISSmetrics we had raised money for the business so we had more time to work on the product and iterate it. So in that case we decided to invest our time into creating a popular Twitter account (we have never spent much money trying to grow the following, it was all our time). This early investment of time in our twitter account led to the initial readership for our blog.
If you have plenty of time before your product is ready, and you can spare a couple of hours a day until January, then you should do as much of it yourself as possible.
If you have severely limited team hours but money in the bank, than an agency could be valuable.
A hybrid model could work, too. It took us a long time to find any understanding at all of how to be successful in content marketing, and most of that time was spent making mistakes and learning from them.
You could probably accelerate a lot of that by:
- Reading everything you can get your hands on about content marketing (start here)
- Hiring a good consultant to help you understand the basics and kick things off on the right foot.
Ultimately it’s a decision that depends heavily on your resources, but if you do decide to hire an agency, then pay close attention and try to learn what they’re doing, so that you understand your own marketing well enough to do it yourself if you need to. If the agency becomes indispensable to you and you hit a rough financial patch, you’re either going to be stuck without any marketing or stuck cutting budgets from other critical parts of your business.
How do you find the right coaches and advisors in your market?
If your primary goal is to generate connections in your market (versus getting great business advice, which I’d say mentors outside of your space are perfectly qualified to give, though you may already have those), then the first place I’d look to find leaders in your market would be your customers.
Talk to your customers, and ask them simple, open-ended questions like:
What [industry] blogs and websites do you read on a daily basis?
The people who write those sites are likely to be well-connected players in your space.
What products do you use in your business?
(If you’re B2C, then the question changes a bit.)
Look at the founders, investors and advisors to the companies behind your customers’ other favorite products. They likely know your market—or at least part of it—very well.
Beyond that, I’d recommend the mentor outreach approach I laid out in this post.
How To Connect With Your Next Mentor
When starting with guest posting, should you go after big blogs or mid-sized blogs just a step above your own?
While I admire anyone who has the guts to punch well above their weight class, I recommend focusing on blogs just a few steps above your own.
Here’s why: guest posting relationships are fueled by leverage.
You’re leveraging an existing blog’s audience to expand your own reach. Meanwhile, that blog wants to leverage your content and expertise, as well as your audience, to further their own marketing efforts.
The bigger your audience—or at least the bigger your audience looks (this is important)—the more leverage you have to get your guest post submissions accepted.
Right now, a big publication might have little to no incentive to run your post.
But by getting a few placements in blogs a bit bigger than yours, you have validation that you can point to. You begin to look like a more legitimate blogger with an audience, and that gives you enough leverage to be seen as valuable by the bigger players.
It comes down to odds.
Right now, you could pitch 10 major blogs on your guest post. You probably won’t get a single acceptance. You might get one.
Or, you could pitch 10 medium-sized blogs on your guest post. If your pitch is good (more on that here), you have a solid chance at being accepted by more than half of them.
Once your content has appeared on 5 other blogs, your hit rate with major blogs will likely go up significantly.
And once that happens, all bets are off 🙂