Scary, isn’t it? You want to use content to win the audience and raise awareness about your product.
But no matter what topic you pick, it turns out some other SaaS company has already covered it.
(Not to mention, in great detail at that.)
And given their size and authority, you feel that you simply can’t break through, and connect with people who need this advice.
Or can you?
Because you know, the fact that you have to compete with large enterprises with their enormous budgets for anything from content writing to promotion, and big marketing teams doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to grow the audience and attract more users.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
It’s just that to win; you will need to become more strategic in how you reach out to and attract your target audience.
And in this post, I’ll show you exactly how to do that.
You’ll learn 4 strategies that will help you win the audience and attract users with content, even if you operate in an industry dominated by big brands.
(And that’s without having to invest all the money you have into it).
Intrigued? Then let’s get right to it.
#1. Publish Content That’s 100% Relevant to a Highly Specific Audience Segment
Here’s a big problem with content today:
Irrelevant to the users’ needs.
And tries to capture too many audience segments at once.
And that’s exactly what your target audience doesn’t need.
(Funnily enough, that’s what many large SaaS brands do. They publish a lot of content. But at the same time, they often lack focus, and target topics that don’t always correspond with the audience’s needs. Believe me, as someone who regularly conducts competitive research on behalf of our clients, I know.)
Anyway, going back to your audience:
For one, they no longer care about generic problems.
Headlines like these no longer make your customers’ hearts to skip a beat:
- How to advertise on Linkedin
- 3 Ways to create engaging content
- 5 Tools for every marketer
Advances in technology have reshaped how we think about the challenges we face and search for information that would help us overcome them.
Example – we no longer think in keywords but problems.
And we ask Google about it, directly. And often, what we ask contains not a single search term related to our problem.
We request information by a voice from virtual assistants like Echo or Google Home too.
And can safely rely on RankBrain to analyze whatever scraps of information we feed it, and deliver the exact information we’re looking for.
As a result, our expectations for content have changed. We now seek accurate and highly actionable answers.
(And the emphasis is on the word “accurate”).
As Benji Hyam pointed out in this fantastic piece (note, the emphasis in bold is mine):
“Content marketing hasn’t become harder. Readers have just become smarter. Our audiences don’t want to read the same, boring, regurgitated content.”
And here lies your first opportunity.
Create content that answers problems your particular audience segment experiences at this very moment.
Doing so will help you improve your strategy in 3 ways:
- You’ll become more relevant to the very people you want to attract with your content. Yes, there will be fewer of them. But they will be the right people who could convert into trial users
- You’ll also find it easier to promote your articles, guides or any other content type you publish and reach that specific audience.
- You’ll create content that immediately stands out from anyone else writing on the same topic. And that’s purely because your piece will be tailored, as opposed to general (meaning, your audience will find it easier to relate to your advice, examples, and information).
Before I show you how to discover those highly relevant topics, let’s take a look at some examples of specific content:
(Note how easily you can identify a particular problem each of those pieces targets, as well as the audience they try to attract).
So, how do you find out the exact problems your audience wants you to solve for them?
You can actually do it in a number of ways:
A.) Ask your best (and by that I mean, paying) users.
I think we can agree on this:
You want to attract more people like anyone who’s already paying you for using your product.
And so, as a starting point, target these user’s problems and answer their questions relating to the pain point your software helps to eradicate.
For example, we ask every new client to ask paying users a simple question on our behalf:
“If you don’t mind, can you tell me what challenges you’re facing with [Main Problem Your Product Helps to Overcome]”
(Naturally, the entire email contains more than the above sentence. But that’s its most important element.)
B.) Stalk your audience on Quora
Quora is a real goldmine of topic ideas. However, to uncover them, instead of using the site’s search function, Google pages that reference your audience and their pain points.
I use this search query when researching ideas for our clients’ content:
‘“Topic – typically something relating to my client’s product” + “Their Audience” inurl:quora.com
“marketing automation” + “SMEs” inurl:quora.com
C.) Build feedback loops into your communications
Include questions, asking users about their problems and issues they might need help with in every email and other communication channels. For example, when you sign up for Drift’s newsletter, you’ll receive this email:
Note the clever and conspicuous question? It provides a company an easy way to discover new subscribers’ challenges.
#2. Be Strategic in How You Become Visible to the Target Audience
There are so many ways to build your online visibility.
Unfortunately, many of them can easily burn out your resources without delivering much in return.
Guest posting is one example.
Now, I admit, guest posting is an amazing strategy for gaining exposure and raising brand awareness.
Hell, it can even get you new users. The famous story of Buffer’s phenomenal growth through guest posting proves that well.
And yes, I use it to promote Usermagnet as well. But I don’t target every single site on which I could post. Here’s why:
Given the amount of effort it requires, guest posting can help you win the audience ONLY if you target the right publications.
In other words, unless you can be 100% sure that your target users make up for at least half of some big website’s audience, then you’re probably better off writing for a smaller site that targets only your potential users.
But if you can find websites that focus on the specific segment of your audience, then invest 100% of your energy into them.
Here are some ideas to help you get the most of this strategy:
- Write for those sites regularly. Submitting a single post might put your name in front of the target audience. But offering advice on a regular basis will help them to get to know you, and in time, develop trust in you and your product. (You’ll know when that happened when you’ll start getting inquiries that reference your posts on the site).
- When choosing topics, target advice that focuses on the problem, rather than a solution. For the most part, you’ll be talking to people who might experience the problem but aren’t necessarily ready to learn more about potential solutions.
Online networking is another example.
Although it’s not the strategy I currently employ for Usermagnet (but only due to a lack of time to do it), I know many SaaS founders for whom it worked incredibly well.
What’s the strategy? Networking on Slack channels and other online communities.
Just like with guest blogging, joining and becoming active on channels that include your audience is a sure-fire way to gain exposure and build trust.
Sure, it takes time and effort. But if you can devote some resources to that, you might achieve incredible results.
Plus, you stand a much better chance there, since marketers from many large SaaS’ simply wouldn’t be bothered to do the same.
Another Idea, Answer Questions with Your Blog Posts on Forums and Q&A Sites
I’m yet to see guys from Hubspot answering a question on Quora and mentioning one of their posts.
(That said, I may have missed them, and they’re actually doing it.)
At the same time, even a quick glance at my Quora feed reveals many smaller SaaS’ actively participating in discussions, providing insights, and yes, referencing their content too.
And does it work? Here’s a discussion I spotted in a Slack channel I’m a part of:
Ask Your Users for Their Help
This strategy works particularly well if:
- You’re a relatively new SaaS company with a user base that you’ve developed strong relationship with.
- You created a big resource, like an eBook, ultimate guide or a long-form content that you need to promote.
In such situation, ask those people who decided to give your product a try to help out.
Ask them to upvote the content on community sites, share it on social, etc.
Because there are fewer of them, you may have a stronger relationship with those people. And as a result, it might be easier to get them to help.
A word of warning. Because of its nature, it’s not a strategy you should be using for every piece you publish. Instead, keep it for those big, strategic pieces you really need to push to the target audience.
#3. Use Your Content in Unconventional Ways
Everything big brands do is big.
They spend tons of cash to promote their content on Facebook.
They create multiple graphics for each blog post and convert them into other visual content types.
Hell, some even turn their posts into videos now.
And I agree, it’s the best way to go about many aspects of growing a business.
At the same time, this also gives you an opportunity to stand out.
How, by focusing on strategies that don’t necessary scale but deliver remarkable results.
Here are some suggestions:
Join (or Launch) a Content Mastermind Group
These informal groups bring together people with similar interests with a simple goal – to help one another, in this case, to help support and amplify each other’s content.
Think of them like BNI’s of the content world.
Members of these groups help share each other’s content and often open up guest posting or other visibility opportunities.
The additional benefit of joining (or creating) a content mastermind groups is the opportunity to exchange information and tap into other people’s experiences.
Some tips for launching a content mastermind group:
- Invite only people who target a similar audience (but fix a different problem, of course).
- Have at least one more knowledgeable content marketer on board.
- Designate one person to make executive decisions (or at least decide on how your group will operate before you invite the others). Having been to many of those groups, I can assure you that democracy doesn’t work. You need someone who’s going to take charge and dictate at least the basic rules of operation.
Use Your Content in Sales
Now, let’s make this clear:
Big brands use content in sales too. All.The.Time.
But what makes this strategy so powerful is that it doesn’t matter who else sends their prospects relevant content. Because the chances are that they don’t send them to the same people as you!
Whenever you get an inquiry or a question from a prospective user, try to include your content in the answer, if possible.
Here’s a reply I sent out to one of my prospect’s questions (note, they’re now our clients):
I admit it’s not a scalable strategy. That said, I’ve found that often, prospects share and reference the content to their connections. And that results in additional visits, as well as sales for my business.
#4. Share Your Experiences, and Struggles Too
And this can be your biggest win of all.
You see, many large companies have policies preventing them from sharing certain details, like their achievements, conversions, mistakes, processes…
They can talk about those in general terms. But they can’t mention any specifics.
Write your content from experience, and offer advice more resonating content with your audience.
This is as simple as sharing processes you’ve used to achieve certain objectives.
Or sharing the exact processes you used to run or promote your business:
But be warned, you need to deliver on the promise you make in the headline.
Because nothing irritates the audience more than a promise of a unique advice from the trenches, and then, getting a generic piece that tells nothing about your process.
And that’s it
Now you have a couple of strategies that will help you win the audience, even if your industry is dominated by big brands.
All that’s left is to pull the sleeves up and implement them.