Prateek Malpani
Guest Article

The four Es in the content marketing playbook of new-age startups

New-age startups have realised the importance of authentic content for their overall marketing strategy. Our guest author decodes the four Es of content marketing.

It’s a Saturday night. Bengaluru's weather is a nippy 21 degrees. It is yet another evening where I am hosting a few close friends at home over a few drinks and discussions. 

Our discussions and debates traverse the worlds of cricket, politics and find a cozy nook in Bollywood. All this while, a YouTube music playlist in the background is raising the already upbeat mood of a non-working day. 

The setting is almost in perfect harmony, when suddenly the music is interrupted by a non-skippable 20-second ad for a liquid hand wash. 

My friend, also a marketing and advertising professional, insists for the umpteenth time that I buy a premium account or install an ad blocker. I retort that these ads are our bread and butter. How and why should we block the very profession we are in?

Unamused, he replies that if a campaign, product or brand is good, it will find a way to reach people, even with ad and notification blockers installed. 

The expectation sounded idealistic, but not unreasonable. I kept thinking about the kind of communication and media mix that would reach a persona resembling my friend’s. While there could be many answers to this, the most obvious and effective one that has worked multiple times in the past and continues to triumph with changing times, is authentic content.

To create authentic content is to live your brand’s purpose day in and day out. The pillars of your content marketing strategy, need to stem from that purpose. Simply put, the reason for the existence of each brand may be different. However, at the core of it, every brand is in the business of making money, while improving the lives of consumers. 

Authentic content derived from the core purpose of brands, is one of the ways to develop a deeper relationship with your core consumers. These consumers will become brand advocates, not just because you provided them with a great product, service or experience, but because you added value to their lives through great content. 

This is where brands transcend from being a commodity that can be replaced, to a brand that draws irrational love. An established example of this would be Red Bull. It claims to be a publishing and media production empire that also happens to sell energy drinks.

Several new-age startups have realised the importance of authentic content for their overall marketing strategy. In doing so, they enjoy resounding success and an irreversible moat over their competitors. 

In essence, there are four Es of content marketing, and brands typically try to index one or more of them. 


Can you empower an entire community to learn investing? 

That is exactly what Zerodha has done with one of India’s largest investing literacy platforms, Varsity. 

The four Es in the content marketing playbook of new-age startups

Nithin Kamath, founder, Zerodha, claims that it has grown 100% Y-o-Y, without direct marketing. This exemplifies the power of long-term authentic content marketing, since Varsity remains a crucial contributor to this growth.

With a single-minded goal to make Indians financially literate, this content marketing initiative by Zerodha has over a million downloads. It gets more than 85,000 visits every day, all attracted by the power of valuable, authentic content.


The other E of content marketing that becomes important, especially if you are a brand in the health and wellness sector, is education.

This E is what brands like and The Whole Truth have used to educate users with daily tips and assist them in their fitness journey. They have also bust numerous myths around much-misunderstood topics, like weight loss, organic products, nutrition and diet.

The four Es in the content marketing playbook of new-age startups

Through education, both and The Whole Truth have created close-knit communities that notice their absence. These communities look forward to their content, thus accentuating their need to exist beyond the products and services they provide.


While ads have made their way on almost all social media platforms, they originally began as a platform for people to connect deeply at a human level.

If brands fail to emulate human behaviour on social media, they are likely to be ignored. Humour and entertainment have traditionally been the emotion that is a source of instant connection, and one of the brands, ixigo, has used this understanding effectively.

The four Es in the content marketing playbook of new-age startups

ixigo seamlessly taps into moment marketing and travel insights with easy-to-consume videos that are relatable, unique and funny. ixigo’s social media content and the engagement on each of its posts, have been the envy of every marketer, who wants to go viral.


Finally, let us talk about the E that is the most difficult to master, and yet Zomato does it seamlessly, almost every time.

Originally built on a community of authentic food reviewers, Zomato, with its exceptional restaurant listings and user-generated content, has managed to engage lakhs of restaurant-goers to make the right choice for their meals.

The four Es in the content marketing playbook of new-age startups

Since then, built on the core purpose of ‘love for food’, Zomato tailors its content for every platform. Whether it is food conversations on YouTube, conversational polls on Twitter or interesting takes on Instagram, Zomato engages and HOW!

At, we disproportionately emphasise the Es of entertainment and engagement. Our ever-so-viral Sleep Internship, for instance, has raised consciousness about good sleep for over a million users. Our very own branded web series, 'Ghar Set Hain', with over nine lakh views on the first episode, continues to entertain with its feel-good content.

Creating authentic content for communities, as a strategy, is long-term. The idea remains that one keep consumers at the core of it all and try to: 

●        Be disproportionately useful

●        Educate and entertain

●        Motivate and inspire

After all, great content is the best sales tool.

(The author is Prateek Malpani, head of brand,

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