What Hiten Shah & Steli Efti Taught Us About Content Marketing

James Carbary
August 24, 2015
What Hiten Shah & Steli Efti Taught Us About Content Marketing

Is creating original content that generates leads a daily battle for your business?All the content marketing pros get it: How do you make content marketing produce predictable results when you have no control on how your audience will respond to your content?Hiten Shaw from Kissmetrics and Steli Efti from Close.io contemplate the challenges of content marketing and how to best leverage repurposed content in a recent episode of their podcast: The Startup Chat, which offers unfiltered, tangible advice “straight from the trenches” of startup and business life.To listen to the specific episode that we'll be talking about in this post, click here.

Hiten’s “Quick Rant”

Hiten’s theory to most of our content marketing woes? We’re trying to create content to get customers, when we should be trying to create content to build a brand. This is the main issue most of us struggle with.“You’re not building a conversion machine or a sign-up machine first,” he says. “You’re building a brand."[Tweet "The appeal of content marketing, in a nutshell, is that it’s the fastest way to build a brand."]Why is content marketing so effective? Because it’sinviting peopleto come and, as Hiten puts it, “sit in your brain.”Your readers and website visitors might not be ready to sign up or they might not need your product right now. However, if they know your content is the most helpful content out there in their industry, they’ll lean in a little closer and hear what you have to say.

Creating “Your Cake”

Hiten compares content marketing to creating the base layer of a cake. It’s the bottom layer; everything else you’re adding builds on top of that.If there’s no base, you can’t get as many leads for webinars, pdfs, e-books, white papers, and so on.

Repurposing With a Purpose

If you’re going to create the base layer of your business with content marketing, you’re going to have to make sure you’re generating a lot of original content. This can be a struggle for most folks. How do you continually pump out fresh, quality content?There’s a reason content marketing is the fastest way to build your brand. When you repurpose content—and turn effective blog posts into pdfs, graphics, webinars, e-books, and so on—you’re providing opportunities for people to:

  1.    Understand your business better
  2.    View you as a thought leader in your industry
  3.    Fill out forms through other mediums and potentially turn into leads

According to Hiten, it generally takes people seven visits to a blog before they actually end up signing up.[Tweet ""It generally takes 7 visits to your blog before someone signs up for anything." - @hnshah"]Repurposing content allows you to occupy mindshare; it equips you to gain a certain response in your customers’ minds. But you have to repurpose with purpose.Turn your content into something more tactical to gain e-mail addresses or potential leads.There are two types of content:

  1.    Tactical, educational content that teaches customers how to succeed in what they do.
  2.    More topical content that helps people discover and share your content.

Create content that’s designed to be shared or create content that’s designed to solve more in-depth problems in a specific niche. [Tweet "Create content to be shared or create content to solve in-depth problems in a specific niche"]Content that gets a lot of reach usually thrives on social media. This is different from content designed for conversion—to specifically encourage people to sign up because they read the content.In both cases, however, you should always strive for educational content and content that maximizes your reach. Hiten admits this is tricky, and if you can somehow tweak the content itself to get reach—you’ve nailed it.

Remember: Different Mediums Have Different Audiences

One thing to remember when repurposing content is that different social media sites have different audiences. There’s a different “feel” from one site to the next.For instance, the content you share on Facebook is different than what you would share on other platforms, like Twitter.You may see a lot of personal posts of Facebook: pictures of your friends’ kids, selfies, and so on. The mode people are in when they’re in that network is different than other sites.Twitter is more of an information stream.Pinterest and Instagram are obviously more of a visual medium.Snapchat is often used as a tool for business leaders to tell a story about an event.If you understand what the audience is like and what they’re looking for, you can customize your message in a way that resonates. Otherwise, no one really cares about it.Even though every platform is different, you can still use the same quality content and package it differently, whether it’s original insights, tactics, stories, or strategies—these can all be valuable in multiple places.Think about it: When you have a great story of something that happened to you, you want to share it with all your friends.The way you tell it may change depending on your content (let’s skip the dry humor at grandma’s), but ultimately, you’re telling a good story people want to hear.“Take the content if it’s truly original and ask where else on the Web it would make sense,” says Steli.If you’re a thought leader who loves to help entrepreneurs or startups, ask people what they need. Talk about their struggles. This is an excellent way to generate new ideas for content. If you can solve one of their problems, you know you have something valuable.

How Content Marketing Makes a True Impact on Sales

In this podcast, Steli points out that sometimes content isn’t just marketing; sometimes it makes a true impact on sales.Many content marketing pros share a similar experience: potential customers sign up for a trial without ever having discovered a blog or content, and then—having discovered it—they decide to stick around.According to Steli, it’s all about having an authoritative voice. People recognize your content and realize you’re a thought leader in sales, for instance, and then they decide to buy your product—all based on the quality of the content.

Using Your Strengths

In this episode of The Startup Chat, Steli talks about Quora and searching for questions people are asking. If he’s able to answer that question and incorporate it in his blog post, it’s no longer just blog content, but it’s also providing an insightful, original answer to people’s questions. He also admits that sometimes, if he comes up with a really good solution, he has fuel for a stand-alone blog post.Hiten agrees that providing answers is immensely valuable in content creation.Talk to your customers or future customers about what frustrates them in their work environments or their industries. If you can create content that offers a practical, helpful solution to those problems, you know someone will care about your post.[Tweet "Creating mind-blowing content is about finding the right medium & playing to your strengths"]A lot of people struggle with sitting down and actually writing a blog post.If writing isn’t the best channel for you, maybe you need to record videos and talk first as a draft before writing a post. Get your thoughts out of your brain in the best, most efficient way you know how. Think creatively and broadly.


If you're an entrepreneur or a marketer, you should definitely be subscribed to The Startup Chat podcast hosted by Hiten & Steli. The wisdom they share every week is straight from the trenches, and incredibly practical.Hiten & Steli have no clue that we're writing this article about them, so I'll ask you to do us a huge favor. Click the tweet below and give them some love.[Tweet "Just read an article about @hnshah & @steli. Thank you bothfor all the wisdom you share!"]They both contribute a tremendous amount of their energy to the entrepreneurship community, and we'd love for them to know that it doesn't go unnoticed.Are you struggling with content marketing for your company? Check out this free 5 day crash course, and start turning blog readers into paying customers.

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