How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for B2B Tech Startups
Part #2: The Full-Stack Content Marketing (FSCM) Playbook
Welcome to a subscriber-only of the Content Captains Newsletter where I answer your questions about creating content, generating traction, and becoming a full-stack content marketer.
The Full-Stack Content Marketing (FSCM) Playbook:
Section I: Foundational Knowledge
Part #2: How to Create a Content Marketing Strategy for B2B Tech Startups (This Post)
Before creating a content marketing strategy, you need to outline your business, marketing, and content marketing goals on a quarter-by-quarter basis.
You must understand your ecosystem, competitive landscape, and key differentiators to create content rooted in reality and that resonates with your target audience.
Category-Led Content is a new type of content made to educate your audience on the category you’re creating which increases the likelihood of creating content that generates traction and sparks short- and long-term growth.
Identifying your target audience is only part of the equation, you must also take the time to understand them on a deeper level and uncover your Superconsumers.
Creating buyer persona(s) with nuanced details about who they are, what they need, and how they make decisions will empower you to allocate content thoughtfully to attract more Superpersonas (your biggest fans).
A content marketing strategy is a high-level plan for creating content to spark growth.
Your content marketing strategy will guide your decision making when creating content.
Where is it that you’re headed? What are you trying to accomplish? And how can you use content marketing to help you get there?
These are some of the questions you need to think about when reading, refining, or revamping your content marketing strategy.
Especially at B2B tech startups, where things change rapidly, having a high-level strategy will ground you amidst chaos and increase the likelihood of creating high-impact content that sparks growth.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: In an ideal world, you would create a content marketing strategy, then start creating content. This is not possible at a startup. Don’t be tempted by a desire to “stop everything,” align, and then take action. You will get nowhere (or fired). The name of the game is to swiftly create or refine a high-level plan, adapt to change, and pivot in real time. It’s about iterating as you go. You have to build the plane, fly it, and land it all at once. That’s the job.
Your goal is to strike a balance between creating a strategy dynamic enough to be both rigid during times of turbulence and fluid during times of change. And in this post, I’ll cover exactly how to do that.
The best content marketing strategies include five components: Goals, Ecosystem, Category, Audience, and Persona(s).
1) Goals - An overview of your business, marketing, and content goals:
Business goals like revenue growth
Marketing goals like generating pipeline
Content goals like increasing organic traffic
2) Ecosystem - The general market ecosystem and competitive landscape:
3) Category - A 2-3 word phrase that describes your product within a market:
The problem(s) your audience is experiencing
The envisioned future your business is striving for
The solution(s) your product is offering
4) Audience - The high-level description of your primary target audience:
Who they are
Where they work
What they desire
5) Persona - The high-level description of your primary buyer persona:
Job titles, roles, and responsibilities
Nuanced behaviors, worries, and needs
Various buyer journey positions
By the end of this post, you’ll have a thorough understanding of each component. And you’ll have a clear idea of what it takes to craft a profitable content marketing strategy.
Table of Contents:
Setting Content Marketing Goals and Objectives
Ecosystem Analysis and Content Differentiation
Introduction to Category-Led Content
Identifying and Understanding Your Target Audience
Buyer Persona Creation and Journey Mapping
Setting Content Marketing Goals and Objectives
Your goals must connect up to business objectives.
The most effective goals are outlined on a quarterly basis and are tiered like this:
Content marketing goals
For example, if your business goal is to increase your market share in Canada by 5%, then all other company goals should align up to that.
Now, when you think about marketing, one of your overarching goals could be to generate $250K in Canadian-based pipeline. With this in mind, crafting your content marketing goals become much easier.
Knowing this, you may decide one of your goals is to increase Canadian-based website traffic by 15% and Canadian-based ranking keywords by 5%.
There can be several other business goals, which would inform other marketing and content marketing goals, but for the purposes of this example, I hope you get the point: Your goals must connect up to business goals if you’re to create content that drivers radically different results.
This will not only ensure your content creates meaningful, relevant results, but also inspire your team to work toward something bigger than themselves.
If you want to create the most effective goals, you need to write SMART Goals.
Your goals must be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.
This simple framework will allow you to create effective goals that are objective, which will help you not only create meaningful results, but also make a logical connection between your effort and your outcomes.
And in a startup environment, you live and breathe by your outcomes.
If instead you were to create content marketing goals in a silo because you have some grand vision about what content should do at your startup, then you’re running the risk of both missing the mark and under delivering.
Plus there’d be no “point” to your work, making it that much harder to inspire your teams to work hard and show up ready to tackle big problems.
It’s your responsibility as a full-stack content marketer to connect the dots for yourself, your team, and your colleagues. And that starts by documenting meaningful goals that align to and support business needs.
Ecosystem Analysis and Content Differentiation
To create a profitable content marketing strategy, you must first understand your ecosystem.
And to understand your ecosystem, you must study three things: market conditions, competitive landscape, and key differentiators.
Market conditions include things like macroeconomic shifts and niche-specific changes.
Tech startups are highly volatile, and when you add things like macroeconomic shifts (like downturns) or niche-specific changes (like new audience needs), things get complicated.
For example, during the pandemic, ecommerce experienced an unprecedented boom where sales grew 50% to over $870B. Source. And during that time, ecommerce brands and tech companies supporting them (think Shopify/Shopify Apps) went into hypergrowth. They were focused on growth at all costs.
But by 2022, things began to shift. Growth began to slow, creating niche-specific changes. Rather than “growth at all costs,” brands began focusing on “sustainable growth and profitability.” And don’t think tech wasn’t affected…2022 and 2023 both saw (and continue to see) massive layoffs. Source.
From a product perspective, it’s unlikely tech startups shifted their core product offerings.
However, they absolutely shifted their positioning, messaging, and subsequently, their marketing activities.
And that’s why you need to understand your ecosystem, so you can create a content marketing strategy rooted in reality.
Conducting your own research by subscribing to industry relevant newsletters, reading articles, and following influencers are all integral parts in immersing yourself into the ecosystem you occupy.
Only then can you begin learning about competitors.
Competitive landscapes are dynamic; especially in SaaS, where copying code, slapping similar messaging on a website, and selling a copycat product is common.
First, start with your primary competitor. Once you understand them, you can begin expanding to secondary competitors and beyond to smaller players or “ankle biters” copying your product and marketing copy.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Before I go any further about competitors, I want to make something really clear. When it comes to combating competitors, there’s only two options: direct attacks to knock them out, or completely ignoring them. A third option, which many marketing leaders insist on, features incremental, soft attacks like creating “you vs. them” comparison landing pages. This is a terrible content strategy, as it invites unnecessary comparisons and muddies your prospects’ waters. More on that in the next section.
Competitive landscape research includes following your competitors on social media, or even using a tool like Crayon (not sponsored) to track competitors more closely. You can also read closed deal notes, or meet with prospect-facing team members to get a better sense of what’s being used against you or what prospects are experiencing from competitors.
You can also check out what kind of content your competitors are creating. This should never fully inform your content marketing strategy, but these inputs are important to incorporate into your knowledge base.
And once you understand your market conditions and your competitive landscape, uncovering your key differentiators will become that much easier.
Identifying your key differentiators is the secret sauce for content marketing success.
Whenever you’re creating content, flexing your key differentiators is an effective way to ensure you’re highlighting what makes your product unique. And when you combine this with Category-Led Content (next section), you’ll begin to create campaigns that attract, convert, and retain high-quality leads and customers.
To identify your key differentiators, you need to go through internal training and documentation, interview subject matter experts (SMEs), and talk to product marketing managers to understand your product more closely.
Especially in tech, new features and products will certainly be a part of your life, and keeping up-to-date with these updates is important for your content marketing strategy.
Once you’re equipped with your key differentiators, you’ll not only have the ability to create a more effective content marketing strategy, but it’ll also help you identify who your Superconsumers are (the customers who are obsessed with your product for very specific reasons, i.e. key differentiators)
A Superconsumer is the kind of person who knows your category better than anyone else—and is willing to spend 30% to 70% more with you. Source.
In other words, your Superconsumers are your biggest fans. And to uncover who they are, you’ll need to tap into the right channels to learn directly from them what makes your product different.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: You’d be amazed at what makes Superconsumers tick. For example, I currently work for a hypergrowth B2B tech startup that manages the post-purchase experience for ecommerce brands. One time, I interviewed a customer for a case study. At first, I was concerned, because their data was terrible (huge return rates, for example). But once I began interviewing them I realized three things: 1. They had a high return rate by choice, because they gave their customers a “try at home” experience. 2. They used our return data, like negative reviews or return reasons, for product development (seriously!). 3. They loved our customer support teams more than anything. These are GOLDEN nuggets.
If you rack up enough Superconsumer insights, you’ll see what makes your product different from others. And the more you lean into that type of messaging within your content, the more you’ll attract similar customers.
But before we dive deeper into audience types and buyer personas, you must first learn about a new type of content: Category-Led Content.
Introduction to Category-Led Content
Category-Led Content is content made to educate your audience on the category you’re creating.
Category design is a business strategy that helps companies create, develop, and dominate new categories of products or services.
This term was largely evangelized by my good friends over at, the same team who inspired me to start Content Captains, and it represents the discipline of creating new categories.
Category design is all about rejecting the premise to build products that are better, faster, cheaper than competitors, and instead building products that are different.
To design a category, you must identify an unsolved problem and create a new solution, then align your entire business to execute on that.
But this is largely a business discipline tied to product, an area of the business where content marketers have little influence over. Or at least, that’s what most people may think.
Although you may not have the power to influence product decisions, you do have the power to craft narratives and shape your audience’s thinking through your content.
To capitalize on the power of category design, you must use Category-Led Content to educate the market and generate traction.
You must use Category-Led Content to:
Educate the market on the problem your specific audience feels
Evangelize your envisioned future (also known as your POV)
Showcase how your product bridges the gap between the problem and your envisioned future (solution)
If you can accomplish this on a consistent basis across multiple channels, you will dominate your category for years, and enjoy 76% of your market cap. Source. You will gain mindshare, become a known authority, and evangelize a set of people to spread your message.