It doesn’t really matter whether it’s startup, small business or large corporation. The rules for non-salesy and non-annoying promotion are still the same.

I mean, think about the times when you’ve seen an advertisement or an article, that, despite being promotional to some extent, was not annoying.

Usually, it would have at least one (or perfectly all) of those qualities:

#1 Educational

#2 Entertaining

#3 Personalized (tailored to the right audience & their problems)

This infographic talks about the good qualities in a little bit more detail:

#1 Educational Content

“Teaching is the new marketing”
Ali Mirza, Founder of iSocialYou

But now, let’s talk about particular qualities I mentioned in the beginning of this article.

Have you heard about Mint?

In case you haven’t, Mint is a personal finance company that grew so fast, that was sold to Intuit for $170 million after only 3 years in business.

This might seem like your regular Silicon Valley success story, but take a look at the rest of their stats:

— 10 million users
— 10,000 new users every week
— 20,000 email subscribers

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed it, so I’m gonna repeat it.

We’re talking about personal finance industry. One of the hardest, most competitive and “boring” niches out there.

So how did they manage to do that?

They’ve built a blog that shared content so useful, that it eventually became #1 most popular personal finance blogs in the world.

Ok, so now the important question is: how can you repeat that success for your own startup?

Of course, building those stats didn’t happen overnight and required a whole team of content writers, marketers & strategist.

It’s very possible, however, to use very simple model to mimic that success.

Step #1: Find your target audience

Be as specific as possible.

“Women 25–47 from United States” won’t do

“Stay-at-home moms who want to launch a small business and gain financial freedom” definitely will do

Step #2: Know their problems

Every target audience will have their own problems & pains.

You should be a true master in finding out about them.

Step #3: Help them solve their problems

What’s even more important, you should help them solve their problems

Step #4: Promote your work…

… and use places where your target audience already hangs out

As soon as you hit that “publish” button, you might think that’s it. But that’s wrong.

Instead, you should promote it like your life depends on it.

But it shouldn’t be “shooting-in-the-dark” kinda’ promotion.

Instead, you should go after your audience to places where they already hang out


— Facebook groups
— Guest posting
— Your social media accounts (both business & private ones)
— Online communities (Reddit, Quora & other industry-specific communities)
— Cold outreach

Side note: you might think that promoting that educational content directly through cold outreach might be annoying for some people. I get you.

But think about last time you were pitched with some article that really helped you solve your problem. Were you annoyed after reading it?

Here’s an example of article pitch I received few weeks ago:

It’s genuine, simple & straightforward.

As a results, I have not only read this article, but I’ve also bookmarked it and sent to a couple of my friends who are interested in Instagram

Cool, huh?

What should you keep in mind when creating educational content for your startup?

Tip #1: Keep a healthy balance between top-of-the-funnel (related to your customers) and bottom-of-the-funnel (related to your product & its features) content. 80/20 would be a good start.

Tip #2: Do your best to convert your visitors — doesn’t matter if it’s email list, messenger list or free trial for your product. Show them this option and explain why they should do it.

Tip #3: Connect the dots between this particular piece of content and your product’s features. It can be as simple as this:

(Content showing you how to bring more traffic + short information that you can use their software to convert those visitors. Lovely!)

#2 Entertaining Content

“We aren’t in an information age, we are in an entertainment age”
— Tony Robbins, Author, Entrepreneur & Business Strategist

What is #1 reason why people log in to social media so often?

Do they want to read the news? Maybe.

Do they want to learn something new? Hmm, not very likely.

Do they want to hear about new features of your product? Hell no!

They want entertainment!

And that’s why you shouldn’t spam their news feed with your startup “insider news”. You’re interrupting their interaction with social media.

So it’s much better idea to tune your message so that it’s entertaining, fun & lighthearted.

And this is not the only reason why it’s a good idea to promote yourself this way.

Brain is much more likely to feel emotional connection when it’s entertained. So in other words, you can develop an emotional bond between your brand & your customer if you make them laugh.

So how can you find your unique entertaining angle?

Here are some ideas how to do that:

#1 Present your target audience problems in some funny way. 8 Signs You May Be Sleep Poor is a world class example.

#2 Present the image of your customers in a funny and/or cozy way.Homepage of video software, Wistia, is a great example

#3 Refer to pop culture in a funny way. Kia and Matrix example is a bit cheesy, but great for you to get the idea 😉

What should you keep in mind when creating entertaining content for your startup?

Tip #1: Don’t go overboard. You can hurt people’s feeling if you point directly at them & their problems.

Tip #2: Keep a healthy balance between laughing at yourself and being professional. No one will treat you seriously if you act like a buffoon all the time.

Tip #3: Tailor your approach depending on your niche. Joking around is more appropriate in some industries while being completely out of place in others.

#2 Personalized Content

“Don’t sell to your customers as if they are a fungible commodity, a walking ATM waiting for you to punch. Six of one are not like half a dozen of the other.”

“Powerful advertising is anticipated, personal, and relevant.”
— Seth Godin, Author & World’s Leading Marketing Innovator

Think about the last time you’ve told your grandma what do you do for a living.

Did you say it in the same exact words as in your LinkedIn bio? (Oh, I really hope you didn’t!)

Now, think about how people are promoting their product. A big chunk of them tells the same exact story to everyone — and that is a huge mistake!

Instead, you should think about different ways in which you can personalize your content. Few of the most common ways are as follows:

— Age
— Profession
— The way they communicate

And all of those are great way to personalize your content. After all…

— you don’t want to speak to corporate people using youngsters’ language; nor the other way around
— you want to adjust your language to your audience profession
— and certainly, you want to adjust your way of communication — not many icebreakers perform better than cracking insider’s jokes

However, here are some even more pro tips that you can use to personalize your content:

#1 Place in your funnel.

Depending on the place in the funnel, you’ll need not only to use different channels, but also different messages:

For TOFU (top of the funnel), you should focus solely on helping your customers solve their problems — without mentioning your product. You can do that by using:

— how-to guides
— blog posts
— social media posts

For MOFU (middle of the funnel), you should keep helping your customers, but this time adding a pinch of your product mentions. Some examples include:

— free trials
— personalized advice
— branded email/messenger newsletters

For BOFU (bottom of the funnel), you should start putting content directly related to using your product. For example:

— customer testimonials
— success stories
— product comparison

#2 Stage of awareness

Very similar to the above, but focuses less on the intention of buying from you, and more on the awareness about the problem and your solution.

(For example, someone might be at the top of the funnel, but be already solution aware!)

Let’s imagine that you teach yoga and want to launch a new program “Yoga For Men” that would consist of morning routines and would primarily help men solve lower back problems.

The problem is: most guys don’t care about yoga!

So if you pitch them with “Why Vinyasa Yoga is Better Than Kundalini Yoga” (message for solution & product aware) most of them will be like:

“Mehh, yoga is for ladies”

If you try to grab their attention with “Do This Yoga Routine And Your Lower Back Will Get Better” (message for solution aware), they will probably react like:

“But I’m not really into yoga…”

However, if you tell them “Do This Short Morning Stretch And Your Lower Back Pain Will Disappear” you have a good chance of grabbing their attention.

And only then, you can lead them into yoga as a solution for their problem.

And what about completely unaware?

Well, they are not an easy audience (but they are a majority in most cases)

Good way is to use questions like:

— “Would you like to stop feeling stiff when you wake up?” or
— “Isn’t that lower back pain killing you?” or
— “Want to start waking up like you did in your 20s?”

#3 Goal

Let’s take an example of an online course teaching people how to launch an online business that brings them $5000 per month.

While the goal might seem like the same (earning 5k per month), the real goal can be drastically different. Take for example:

— stay-at-home mum who would like to build financial freedom to rely less on her husband
— 25-year-old guy who would like to travel the world
— 45-year-old professional who would like to retire earlier and spend more time with his family

All of them, while having similar “middle goal”, have completely different “end goal” and you will have to market to them in completely different way.

What should you keep in mind when personalizing content for your startup?

Tip #1: You won’t always know everything about your customers’ goals, stage of awareness and place in the funnel. Sometimes, you’ll have to gather all the data that you have and take an educated guess.

Tip #2: Gather as much data as possible. Do whatever you can to:

— send surveys to your customers after they receive your product
— interview them on a regular basis
— analyze their behavior on your website

Tip #3: If you can afford to, use tools like:

— Right Message for personalizing the content of your website.
MailChimp for segmenting your email subscribers
Livespace for storing & managing the data of your customers

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