If you look up popular chefs, you'll often find that they're giving away their secret recipes, which seems counterintuitive unless you realize one key thing; people keep coming back. In the world of startups, that same secret is how startups and entrepreneurs are creating a culture of the content community, teaching their readers and customers tricks while at the same time promoting their successes.
SalesLoft, an Atlanta-based sales team management and motivation company, has grown from five people in 2014 and $200,000 in annual recurring revenue to $5.5 million in 2015 and 50 employees, all with only $800,000 in funding. Their 1300 clients join for their Cadence platform, which helps managers build their teams a customizable, morale-boosting pace to work at. However, many customers old and new are drawn in by SalesLoft's content marketing machine, a blog that combines a dramatic amount of sales development advice, infographics, leadership knowledge and promotion for their own customers in a relaxed way that almost reflects a personal blog. They have also created (including many directly from their CEO Kyle Porter) a large amount of sales-based video training seminars and interviews with great salesmen. In today's society it's not enough to just say "we're a great company," you have to create something for your community.
This is in stark contrast to companies like Insidesales, which provide content that can be compared to SalesLoft without the direct access to the CEO and the community itself. It is also worth noting that it's never a good idea to force someone to sign up with an email address to read.
Another company creating a huge community around their content is Buffer. Focusing specifically on written content, Buffer has won the company awards for deeply researched and enjoyable to read pieces like how to write headlines (and why people like them psychologically). Unlike many company blogs, Buffer has a community that regularly comments and discusses each piece in depth, which is a rarity in the world of social where much of this commentary either stays in a person's head or moves onto larger networks like Twitter. Buffer also follows the model of giving away their secrets, by telling their readers (without charging a dime) things such as how they've succeeded in marketing through Pinterest. Having a community literally built around loving your ideas and your content leads to very easy sales; they're barely being sold, as they already trust you.
Both of these companies have also succeeded in going beyond the whitepaper philosophy. Buzzfeed's ascent to success has been through creating digestable, readable pieces that anyone can get into, and neither Buffer nor SalesLoft forces themselves to create organized academia, sticking to the world of telling it like a journalist would. Similarly Mattermark has created an excellent regular blog/newsletter alongside their powerful data analytics company for private companies. Their Mattermark content creation oftentimes actually delivers the very data that they sell, such as their analysis of a recent 500 Startups batch. The phrase "show, don't tell" is a overused, but Mattermark has turned it into an art by continually using their data to create content on their website, newsletter and Twitter account.
It's easy to think that you should create a company blog and video that talks about subjects that are 100% about you and your company. However, by creating a community of readers that wants to continually visit as you share your expertise, your successes and even your failures, you'll find customers that want to use your product and see you succeed.