[Seedcamp Firsts] How to first kickstart your content strategy and its power as a key differentiator

Interview with Raphael Allstadt, Co-founder and CEO of tl;dv and Tom Bangay, Senior Director of Content & Community at Juro, hosted by Natasha Lytton, Head of Brand and Network at Seedcamp

Learn all things content from the masterminds behind Juro and tl;dvs content strategies – from why content was first determined to be an essential part of the business and shaping the early strategy to execution measurement and key learnings for early-stage founders. 

For Juro and tl;dv, content has been an integral part of their strategies from the early days. Here is why and how they set the ground for successful content strategies:

Targeting in-house lawyers, for whom the trust bar is very high, Juro, an all-in-one contract automation platform, started building its content function early on to showcase its expertise. At a time when the legal technology sector was overexposed to hype, Juro chose to be careful, honest, and transparent with its messaging.

tl;dv, a meeting productivity tool for remote-first teams, embraced a challenger brand mentality for their content strategy. The team knew that they were not solving a groundbreaking previously-unheard problem. Many of their future users were already struggling with too many meetings in a given week and searching for transcription and recording solutions. tl;dv knew it had to stand out from the swarm of other competitors tackling this well-trodden problem. They used content as a way to differentiate themselves in the broader landscape.

Tune in and/or read on to learn:

  • how to lay the groundwork for a successful content strategy 
  • how to align the content strategy to the core business goals
  • how to leverage SEO
  • how to get founders’ buy-in
  • how to define your vision before you invest in content

Watch it on YouTube or listen to it on your favourite podcast platform.

Q & A with Raphael Allstadt, Co-founder and CEO of tl;dv and Tom Bangay, Senior Director of Content & Community at Juro, and Natasha Lytton, Head of Brand and Network at Seedcamp

Natasha Lytton: What does content mean for you? 

Raphael Allstadt: When we started tl;dv, we were looking at the market and the general state of ripeness of the market. And we found that, generally, the problem is well-defined. Many people feel the problem of having way too many meetings with an average of 16 hours a week. People were already looking for solutions like the first entry point to record a meeting, to transcribe it in order to share it with someone. Also, we had a lot of well-established players in the space already that we knew we had to pick up the fight with.

So, early on, we looked at content as a way to differentiate ourselves as a challenger brand in that space. We said we are okay if some people don’t like our approach, but others really love us for doing what we do. 

Tom Bangay: The main persona that we sell to are in-house lawyers, and lawyers have a very strong sniff test for bullshit. The trust bar is very high, so you are already at a disadvantage in terms of authority as a startup, and then you’re selling to a persona that doesn’t believe anything you say. So, I think the founders really invested in the idea that the content is going to pay off both short and long-term. Because no one is going to trust us until we showcase our expertise.

Natasha Lytton: What were some of those early experiments when you first started deploying content as your marketing and brand armor? 

Tom Bangay: At first, we worked on one of the founders’ personal profiles and thought leadership. He was the only internal thought leader we had. After a while, we thought, let’s just do something really big, really quickly.

So early on, we took an approach of trying to leverage reputable brands and crowdsource thought leadership amongst the legal community. We did a lot of interview-led content where I would get GCs (general counsels) to talk to me. They always signed off, and they were always flattered and also glad not to have to do it themselves. Then we published a book about legal operations that got us, I think, a thousand new contacts in HubSpot, which was really good.

So we did that for a bit, but that’s classic lead gen, not really demand gen. So it really helps with the brand in the early days because people just associate your company with these more mature ones and assume that they are customers and that kind of thing. But as time went on, we needed to be a bit more high intent in terms of the leads we were capturing.

So probably, two and a half years ago, we started focusing really intently on SEO, which is where I spend probably half my time now, strategically these days. 

Raphael Allstadt: When we started out, we said, great, let’s start with thought leadership content about how to work asynchronously, how to be fewer times in meetings. And we thought this was a way to really generate leads as well. It was a great exercise; it resulted in a manifesto that we still have on tl;dv today, but it was really like the wasteland because the challenge always is with SEO.

It takes months to see if it’s successful or not. So if you like, it’s a lot of opportunity cost as well because you take a long time to realize that it was the wrong strategy. And to add on that, you don’t have the authority and trust on Google to rank actually for the content you’re doing. 

So this was actually one of the first learnings. The conclusion we drew from that was let’s focus on more transactional content, as the first strategy that is clearly assigned to an action that the user wants to complete, that we can serve and start from there. That’s the first learning we had with written content and SEO as a whole.

Natasha Lytton: Can you talk more as well about your content creation when it comes to video? What led you to develop the content and the very awesome video collateral that you’ve ended up experimenting with?

Raphael Allstadt: What we always had in our DNA and what we always believed in – because we started out writing content – we were challenging ourselves to have fun with it and be witty as a brand. So we said, Hey, there is something it generally resonates with the market, but we didn’t see results coming in. So essentially, when we refocused ourselves, we looked at the market and said, ‘what defines us compared to the competition?’. And, you know, it’s video clearly. We are a video product.

We really believe in remote, unique video to convey information. So that’s very aligned with the brand that was kind of the first thing sort of funny, very bold, and video first. And then we said, ‘okay, how can we align this with viral content?’ And so we did really like a stroll through TikTok and found a great creator.

And that was really the aha moment of doing that. And when we did launch on Product Hunt and for the first time, it pinnacled all to this moment that we said, okay, let’s produce a really great video, invest some money with this creator that was an influencer himself. And the reaction was really mind-blowing because it was actually like sort of untapped territory in product launches. 

Like they’re all very similar. So yeah, in the end, we won the product video of the year on Product Hunt with that, which was great. I have the Golden Kitty here, which we were super happy about. That really was the final push for us to say, okay, where can we take this next?

We actually hired the influencer, and he’s now really running content on social media for us. We have really doubled down on that and seen great results from that so far. 

Natasha Lytton: How has your content strategy evolved?

Tom Bangay: The trend line has been, we’ve just moved further and further down the funnel. And I think that the more stuff you do, the longer the timelines and also the more data points you have. Almost everything is vanity metrics, and it’s really easy to get distracted by them. So let’s say you get a page one ranking for a key high-intent term – vanity metric. You get a really strong click-through from that search engine results page – vanity metric; you get loads of traffic – vanity… Loads of revenue – metric! That’s a real metric! So at the moment, we focus super heavily on pipeline, because, obviously, there are sales performance aspects to what gets closed and product coverage as well, but everything is about pipeline.

For a company like us, it’s just too easy to game it [otherwise]. And as soon as you become a function that’s in any way mature and you have like specialists and some budget, and you’re doing lots of stuff. If your target was, let’s say, MQL (marketing-qualified lead), and people can get a bonus by hitting a certain number, it just drives the wrong behaviors.

We’re very focused on pipeline at the moment, and the only way that works all across the team – we have demand gen and a content team – is because our attribution is incredible. 

We pretty much know everything that happens with our traffic. Without that info, I just don’t think we could have been able to scale at all. But as soon as you have it, you can really put your foot down in certain things.

And that’s been super helpful to us. On the team question, the team structure pretty much maps to the things we focus on in content. So the only things we do in content are acquisition through nurture through community and then branded sales enablement.

Raphael Allstadt: We are thinking very similarly, but for example, for our social media profiles, which we post and invest heavily on, we count a lot on impressions overall because, again, we are in a competitive market and brand considerations are important in getting our name out there. From a second aspect, because tl;dv is very easy to be adopted and learned, it’s usually one person in the organization that starts using the tool. And then, you need to think from that person’s perspective as well. How good do they feel to introduce tl;dv, to their peers and the team as a tool, as a solution, but also as a brand and company, given that there is competition in the space.

We actually see really, really, high brand love that helps people actually feel good about suggesting to use tl;dv as opposed to a competitor. So in that sense, for us, it’s a little bit harder sometimes to attribute, and that’s why impressions for us are important – and also a great social presence and a lot of character in the content we produce and brand.

But on the other side, obviously, when it comes to SEO, now we are very transactionally focused, and that has clear goals of essentially generating signups as the first means. And from there, the product sort of takes over, and that’s then obviously what we track across the funnel is, are we attracting the right people? Are they converting correctly? But, ultimately, for now, it’s signups on what we produce on Google and the blog. 

Natasha Lytton: How much do you think the founder needs to be bought into content for it to be an important part of the business and the strategy? 

Raphael Allstadt: I think it’s important because if a strategy fails and the founders have a lot of buy-in, in the way we’ve done it, it’s helping you maintain some sort of boldness to keep (doing) one thing. For example, when SEO failed for us in the early stages, it could have been like, ‘Hey, maybe the content is too funny and not serious enough.’ Like all your competitors are focusing more on the transaction itself. You’re adding humorous elements. But if the founders really stand in for that and say, ‘Hey, I think we should push in that direction,’ then I think it helps keep this consistency and transform it just to some other channel – and then find success there, that you otherwise would’ve not found because maybe you would’ve iterated faster on the brand. So founder gut, I think, is important in that sense.

Even I do TikTok videos sometimes. I think it’s important that the founders are involved at our stage, and we are earlier than Juro, obviously. 

Tom Bangay: I never worked at a startup before I worked for Juro. And I think if I’d known anything about startups, there’s like a couple of things I would’ve done: 1) I would’ve realized it was quite risky to take the job as employee number 12, and in hindsight, it all worked out; and 2) if I’d known quite how long the shadow is that founders cast, I would’ve interrogated them a bit more in the interview process. And again, I got really lucky there because they’re both great and I didn’t really have any problems. But if you had a difficult founder or a founder who perhaps was hiring you because they need some headcount, but they’re not totally bought in, that would be quite bad. 

So, I can only speak for my particular founder, but if you can show that guy a number on a piece of paper that is important to the business, and then you can show that you can influence that number, and you do it predictably, and it helps the company grow, you can do anything you want within reason. You’ll get all the backing that you need, support, buy-in and investment with team members. 

Natasha Lytton: What should companies first thinking of investing in content bear in mind? 

Tom Bangay: You need a really clear vision. If I look back and think about things that I wish I’d known at the beginning, strategically rather than doing specific tactical things – I think, if you bring in a content person and you’ve not sorted out your fundamentals, like what’s the value proposition, what’s your ideal customer profile? what’s your messaging framework look like? have you written all this stuff down? then you’re sort of asking people to drive a car without a steering wheel. 

You really need to have all that defined before you try and position your company around it with content. Because if you start writing loads and loads of stuff, and then it’s unfocused, and you misunderstood who you’re aiming at, it’s just gonna miss immediately. 

The other thing I thought of was, having a really clear understanding of what is high intent, which Rapha mentioned around transactional SEO content. At some point, things are not gonna work. 

Or like in our case, we sell to lawyers, so every year, we have to remember not to panic when they’ll go on holiday for two months in summer, and there’s no demand. It’s really interesting that lawyers’ buying patterns, particularly in the UK, track exactly to private school holidays. So if the kids are off, no one’s buying anything. I think that kind of thing, like really understanding if you need to panic and just make sure you’re only focused on high intent, and you stop doing things like thought leadership. Do you actually know what high intent is? If you can’t answer that question quickly, you’re just gonna make bad content decisions.

Also, we’re very, very aggressive with our input metrics. You gotta be extra confident your strategy is correct, but if you are really confident in it and you know you found the right thing, go really big, really fast, really hard, just like, press your foot to the floor. And that’s how you’re gonna move the needle.

Raphael Allstadt: I totally agree. I think the only thing I just want to reiterate is the general journey: how is your product discovered, or how should it be discovered?

Is it the founder knocking on your door for the first year and trying to really guide you through that journey, which is also what we did, as you’re still building version one, essentially? And then maybe your POC is just showing it to the team. Maybe some thought leadership. Writing can really help you just to reiterate the values and add some love to the brand, but they’re never designed to convert. In our case, we know it’s important that people like our funnels; PLG (product-led growth) is where most of the growth is coming from.

So we want to create content to help people feel proud and excited to introduce tl;dv into the wider company. To really understand, what is the main goal of your content along the journey of the buyer – super, super important. The other tip that I would give is to be realistic along the time. If you start content strategy for your blog, it will take months to show results, and don’t expect it to yield short-term outcomes. I think there should be always other channels in the mix when you look at content as a tool to generate leads and, ultimately, buyers. 

Tom Bangay: I think just to add to that last point, which I a hundred percent agree with, it’s a really difficult one with SEO because it takes ages. So it’s really hard to convince people often, especially in their early stages when everyone’s panicking, that it’s the right thing to do.

I was having this conversation with someone the other day about why would you stick with it when you can get more certainty that you’re gonna get some leads by outbound or PPC (pay per click) or whatever. And my answer was, would you like a customer acquisition cost of zero?

Once you build that beachhead of search traffic that converts, it’s just there now forever. And you spend almost no money or time on it. Nowadays, it’s really important to have good unit economics. So, you really gotta hold your nerves with search, but if you get through the eye of the needle, it’s great.

Natasha Lytton: Any last words of wisdom were things you know now that you wish you had known when first starting out with your content?

Raphael Allstadt: I think the first one is be realistic. What is achievable? I mentioned this point earlier: your thought leadership piece will not rank on page one of Google because your authority will not be great and you not have enough backlinks. So be realistic there and look at your market, the power you have, and your skills to really double down on this. The other thing is, really have fun with it.

I think that you need to enjoy the writing, even if you write very transactionally-focused articles on how to record a Google Meet. You can still have fun and you can still write great articles. And I think that’s some red line that you should have throughout your entire content journey at your company. And then, success will follow. 

Tom Bangay: Very nice. I agree with all of those. So I thought about this in terms of strategic stuff, and then just really like practical mistakes that we made. So I think, on the strategy side, I already alluded to it. But if your strategy is not revenue-focused, it’s gotta be top-down rather than bottom-up – it will fail.

If I were to start again, it’s never too early to start building your search iceberg, even if domain authority is gonna be quite low at the beginning, so nothing is going to rank. But when there comes a magic moment, when suddenly your website looks quite good to Google, you just get loads of traffic.

So the sooner you can build that, the better. Proper attribution is a superpower, so the sooner you can find someone who can properly attribute your traffic, the better. 

One thing we didn’t talk about at all but has been great for us is we have a private community of house lawyers, like a buyer community, and I would’ve started that day one because it’s just an absolute pot of gold. It’s really great. 

To learn more, visit and Also, follow Tom and Raphael on Twitter.


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