Australian startups surged in momentum in 2015. Following Prime Minister Turnbull’s Innovation Statement, businesses were energised to begin executing their ideas. But how do startup founders build the required tech? How do they promote their idea to the wider community? How do they create a culture so other people want to help scale their idea?

On June 8th, we invited five panellists to speak about content, code and culture as well as share their screw-ups, light bulb moments and hacks to over 150 attendees. Below, we set out three takeaways from the evening – the importance of storytelling, know your audience and understand your value exchange proposition.

Takeaway I: What’s Your Content’s Story?

Storytelling is synonymous with entertainment, drama and emotional rollercoasters – think Star Wars, the Hunger Games and the Revenant. Unsurprisingly, we are less likely to view a business’ FAQs as a comparable story. Storytelling, however, allows us to convey the most complex ideas effectively to a variety of people.

All businesses tell stories through their content (some better than others) – and the user is the protagonist. Without them watching your Vlogs, commenting on your social media posts or searching Google for your support centre, your content serves no purpose and wouldn’t exist.

Jessica Glenn, Skilld CTO, explained the necessity of having a tech and marketing team that work well together. Centring your content on your user enables a diverse team (likely made up of UX designers, engineers, marketers and sales people) to link together different elements and create a meaningful experience.

Different people also process stories differently. As such, businesses build a fictional representation of their users based on research and observation. Angus McDonald, Senior Inbound Marketing Specialist at HubSpot, explained the importance of creating these ‘buyer personas’ to help understand the decision-making process for each buyer. They help create relevant and useful content for your clients.

Takeaway II: Who is Your Audience?

Content producers should tailor any social media post, Infographic, or video blog to the appropriate audience. Who are you speaking to and on what platform? Why is your business on that platform – are your customers there?

Justine Szalay, Social Media Strategist at Coca-Cola, aptly acknowledged that creating “on point copy and assets” on a regular basis across multiple channels is really hard. Not only do you have to be consistent with your content, but consistent on the platform. She went on to stress the importance of testing content on different platforms, “Coke has to iterate as a global corporation – you’ll have to do the same as a startup”.

Jessica added that if your business has a tech team, they can help you better understand your audience through quantitative data, to know their habits and in turn, what content you should show them and on what platform. Is your user a time-poor director at an enterprise interested in audio case studies? Or, are they a first-time small business owner who uses Instagram and Periscope?

The number of platforms and online channels can overwhelm even the most social-media savvy strategist. Nicholas Lembo, Yelp’s Manager of Public Relations and Business Outreach, explained that if your business’ customers aren’t on Snapchat, then you don’t need to be there either. Look at your audience’s engagement on the platforms you are active on and drive your storytelling about your brand.

Takeaway III: What’s Your Value Exchange Proposition?

Businesses who produce content in 2016 are preoccupied with optimising each article for SEO and rankings. They understand that the right people need to see their content. But do they know why they are producing content at all? Why should people visit their website or read their articles? You can’t force people to watch an ad on TV, or interrupt their experience online asking them to take a survey or try your service.

Rather, as Atlassian’s Content Strategist Elle Geraghty explained, you must add value for your customer. If you want your customers to engage with your product, then you need to provide them with something of value in return. Daytime soaps, for example, were created to literally sell soap – they provided something entertaining to watch in order for viewers to look at their products. Similarly, Google provides users with a search function and G-mail in exchange for looking at their ads.

At LegalVision, we offer free legal documents. We write articles distilling complex legal concepts along with management, marketing and capital raising tips. We also share content relevant to our clients’ industries. Whether you are providing information, selling software or soft drink – you must offer your customers a good value exchange in return for their engagement.

Bonus: Stuff Happens

Planning events is challenging and stressful – sourcing speakers, deciding on catering, preparing invitations as well as marketing collateral. Typically, in our experience, less than half the number of guests who RSVP to a free event will attend – do you then select a location that holds 300 people or 150? Do you order 600 canapés or 300?

Event organisers, especially those with a legal background, are wedded to checklists, run sheets and contingency plans. There’s pizza on standby if we have too little food and a colleague has brought a car to pick up more drinks. The CTO helps complete sound checks during the day. But sometimes, things don’t go as you plan. We experienced several unexpected moments during the evening. As with business, you can’t always control every situation and simply leaving the building or closing your doors isn’t an option. You must remain level headed and solution focused. What is the best course of action for your guests, colleagues and panellists?

Especially for startups, the road will be turbulent and littered with setbacks. Don’t waste time berating yourself, blaming others, or frantically running around, consequently panicking others (I’ve done all three and they were wildly ineffective strategies).

How you react will shape how your attendees remember your event, your good or service and critically, your business.

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Questions about creating a content strategy or identifying your value exchange proposition? Tag us on Twitter @legalvision_au and let us know.

Working on a startup? Download LegalVision’s Startup Manual – a free 60-page manual featuring 10 case studies and tips and tricks from Australia’s leading VCs and startups.

Claudette Yazbek

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