Content is king.
Silicon Valley has become a giant content-production machine.
Following the examples of First Round Capital and Andreessen Horowitz, most VC firms have a team dedicated to publishing content; at a minimum, general partners share their thoughts through their personal blog or newsletter. Meanwhile, more and more startups have a company blog on which founders and employees discuss topics related to the company, its industry, and its market.
It’s easy to dismiss these efforts as useless and superficial.
After all, shouldn’t a VC be focused on investing? And shouldn’t a company be focused on building, shipping, and selling?
There are reasons why publishing content is a central feature of building companies, however.
Here are seven of them.
1. Producing content is an incentive to work in depth.
When you have to speak or write about your company, there’s no room for approximation. And everything that you learn in the process makes you a better founder over the long term.
2. Content is good marketing.
It raises attention and attracts like-minded people. It’s also a good way to build relationships: when you publish content, you have a good reason to reach out to influential people, even if you don’t know them. Your content can attract those who are interested and keep at a distance those with whom you won’t do business anyway.
3. Publishing content is a way to hedge against uncertainty.
It makes it possible for you to frame the discussion, to attract reactions and rebuttals, and to shape your market as time goes on. As written by Jerry Neumann, if you’re confronted with uncertainty, you can mitigate it by “modifying the system itself, by, say, creating a narrative about what you are doing”.
4. Content is also about decision making.
The best way to convince yourself about an idea is to teach it to others. If it survives being voiced to an audience, and being rebutted by the most critical among them, then it will become so solid and so obvious that it will serve as a foundation for building more. Thanks to all the content produced in the past, your strategy will be deeply ingrained in your mind, sparing you the painful task of constantly referring back to the plan. This is also a great help when it comes to your own team. For employees, company content can help turn decisions into no-brainers.
5. Developing content helps trace the “circle of your competence”.
It’s essentially teaching others, and as once explained by software engineer Adrian Kosmaczewski, “teaching will make you more humble, because it will painfully show you how limited your knowledge is. Teaching is the best way to learn.”
6. A great advantage of producing content is that it puts you ahead of potential competitors.
By writing, learning and teaching new things, you can always be ahead of those who are satisfied with following. And if that content has a radical tone, it will be so polarizing that it will dissuade many people from following. Thus radical content marketing, far from revealing your secret sauce, effectively helps to keep potential competitors at a distance.
7. There’s what you disclose and there’s what you keep to yourself.
You should bet on widespread communication, but don’t forget to keep some details just for the insiders.
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