Startup life: the importance of storytelling
One of the most important skills for any founder is storytelling. It is critically important, especially in a company’s early stages when you are selling a vision. It impacts your ability to raise money, hire a team and sign those first customers.
At Sports Loft, our companies have some amazing stories to tell. From how the company was started to the circumstances of how they raised their first money and what led to their initial customers. How they use content, and which forms they rely on, to tell these stories is an important part of their marketing strategy. It enables that story to keep being told, even when the founder isn’t present and as the business grows.
We’re therefore constantly thinking about how the B2B media landscape is changing and how tech companies can use content to tell their stories, build audiences and develop their presence within the sports industry. So, we caught up with the leaders from some of the Sports Loft companies to ask them about how they use content as part of their approach to storytelling.
Why produce and publish content at all?
The content landscape is noisier than ever, which is why we wanted to find out why our members continue to spend the time, effort and – let’s face it – money into producing and distributing blogs, case studies, podcasts, video and newsletters.
“We've found content and press (paid or organic) to be the single biggest form of inbound leads for Spalk,” says Ben Reynolds, co-founder and CEO of the virtual sportscasting studio. “We also find telling our customers success stories – and by proxy, our role in their success – to be an effective way to engage our target audience.”
For Niall Hendry, head of partnerships & delivery at Move.ai, it’s about publishing what’s relevant for their audience and helps position their product as a solution to industry challenges.
“Content, to coin an adage, will always remain king,” says Niall. “The tricky part is how to maintain and publish relevant content. Businesses need to ensure that the content they create ultimately doesn't just generate awareness but also speaks to their customer's needs, which can be a difficult balance to strike.”
Tom Kuhr, chief marketing officer of Greenfly, agrees that relatability is crucial: “There is a lot of noise, that's why understanding your audience is key,” he says. “If you give them the media experience they want, it will continuously pull them in – and they'll ignore the noise. Create connections that are authentic and personal to customers, like it comes from a human, not a nameless company or brand.”
To make it work, make it relevant
For Ben at Spalk, the ability for a tech company to show its product solving real-world problems remains fundamental. Prospective customers need evidence your solution has worked for others and can work for them.
“We have a huge focus on case studies with the targeted publications that our customers and prospects are engaging with,” he says. “The number of case studies we produce has increased massively this year and we are also experimenting with more video, podcast and alternate content formats.”
Niall Hendry at Move agrees. “Our plan in the next 12 months is to double down on not only engaging content but user-based content with our customers,” he says. We want to show how Move's tech is being used in the wild.”
Tagboard invests heavily in content, with its long-form Storyteller interview series published as a podcast and via Youtube. “Through Storyteller and the blogs we create, we’re always looking to show how our partners are thought leaders in the industry,” says Josh MacCracken, Tagboard's head of marketing. “It enables us to show how our product is being used by the top organisations pushing forward the media industry, which is then highly relevant for the rest of our audience.”
The power of education and personalisation
Greenfly is another company leading an industry trend – this time the distribution of short-form content – so CMO Tom Kuhr has found that bringing prospective customers up to speed with the media landscape is an important part of telling the greenfly story.
“The standard business model in sport hasn’t changed for decades, so we’re constantly educating,” he says. “The leagues and clubs committed to digital transformation are our best customers, so we talk about why digital is so important; about the new behaviour of younger fans; and the reasons that short-form content is critical to finding new fans and building loyalty.
Kuhr also finds that their audience is at differing levels of digital maturity, so Greenfly tailors its output for different personas. Danika Wong, CMO of Satisfi Labs and head of its Learning Lab, is also a strong proponent of tailoring content to audiences – something Satisfi can help others implement.
“There is no secret sauce besides asking your audience about their pains and needs, actually listening to their answers and acting upon them,” she says. “Our shared knowledge base, collected by AI Assistants from hundreds of clients, gives us unique industry-specific insights into consumer behaviour and preferences, providing visibility on emerging trends. We intend to share these insights openly, while providing helpful tips on how to apply this knowledge in their industry.”
Being strategic about content distribution is also hugely important. Where, when and how your story is delivered can make or break your likelihood of finding an audience and landing the message effectively.
“Hyper-focused, targeted content is much more effective than just submitting content on the wire or with mainstream publications,” says Ben from Spalk. “Every niche – even ours around content localisation and IP based production – has influencers and key press outlets who are going very deep on a specific topic for an exact audience.”
And don’t forget to optimise for mobile. “As a brand, you have to meet your audience where they are – which is on their phones,” says Bailey Hand, marketing specialist at Slate. “Content can serve a number of different purposes with brand awareness being at the forefront. If you aren't catching attention in the digital space, you risk getting lost in the shuffle and losing out on relationships with your audience.”
What’s next for content at Sports Loft?
The B2B content landscape may be changing, but the power of podcasts, articles and videos to convey brands’ stories is more striking than ever before. Which is why we’re expanding Sports Loft’s content production capacity, bringing in new ideas and expertise in order to tell the stories we think matter.
We’re thrilled to welcome Daniel Smith, our new Head of Content, to the Sports Loft team. With experience spanning some of the world’s most recognisable media brands – including Wired and the Guardian – plus time spent in the B2B tech sector, Dan will be central to helping us tell the stories of the Sports Loft companies and provide an even greater level of service to our members.
To find out more about how we are helping the companies at Sports Loft tell their stories, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
There is no secret sauce besides asking your audience about their pains and needs, actually listening to their answers and acting upon them.