Here’s the strategy founders are using to boost customer trust (and sales)

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Contxto – As the founder of a startup in practically any sector, you may never have heard of licensed content. Yet, licensed content for startups could well be your secret weapon to closing sales, optimizing ROI (return on investment), and building your brand’s credibility.

Although the concept of licensing written, audio, video, and photographic material from a third party for your company may sound abstract, its effects are more than tangible. 

Perhaps the most difficult part about licensed content is getting to know what it actually is and what it can be used for as a company in a competitive industry. 

If you already know the basics that I’ll be detailing below, you can skip ahead or click here for an in-depth guide to deploying licensed content to optimize your content marketing ROI. 

What is licensed content for startups used for?

Most guides explain licensed content as being when a third-party purchases the rights to republish material produced by a content creator. 

Still rather abstract, right? Why would a company actually need this kind of service? Let’s go step by step:

• A content publisher, say The New York Times or The Economist, creates an article, a video, a photo or an infographic.

• A third party, say a startup, may find this content to be useful to boost their own brand. The startup may want to attract users to their site with relevant and authoritative content that will both educate potential customers about the ecosystem their product works in, as well as generating good SEO (search engine optimization) for the site itself. 

• This relevant content could be an in-depth article about the workings of blockchain posted on a fintech’s site. Or it could be an infographic about the effects of the dairy industry on a foodtech’s page. Or it could even be a video tutorial about child protection on the internet posted by an edtech. 

Simply put, when a startup licenses content, it is paying for access to the written and graphic material that a trusted publisher can provide which feeds into, and enhances, the company’s own brand narrative. 

Why is licensed content good for startups?

Content, whether it lives on your main page to give you traffic, or on your social media to create awareness, is the most crucial form of marketing for startups that are relatively unknown and working within a market that people may not be fully familiar with.

Most startups simply don’t have the critical mass of customers to get word-of-mouth marketing up to full throttle. Many of your customers will need to find you organically.

This is a task made all the more difficult for more technologically-focused startups that need to explain to people in detail how their product actually works.

Blockchain, fintech, AI, and even digital marketplaces are still difficult concepts to grasp for many people. And there’s nothing worse than being a technically-minded master of your sector without the literary flair to communicate what your business is all about!

Thus, to reach the masses and get them to understand, you often need to produce content that helps potential customers to relate your product to your brand. Licensed articles can present key industry concepts in a down-to-earth way. 

Produced by expert journalists who use innovative storytelling techniques, licensed articles from reputable publishers will break down key points about your industry or product in the context of current events and trends. This not only helps the average consumer better understand your offering it helps them see how your product or brand fits into their everyday life. 

When it comes to startups, licensed content is a…


As a startup Founder, you’re running between meetings, drafts, accounting, legal documents… Yet, no matter what your company does, it needs to create content. 

A blog or an active social media account is probably the most effective tool.

Yet, how does a nice long essay sound after a straight six hours of negotiations with investors? 

You probably aren’t in a position to hire someone to write your content for you. You could ask people to do it for free, but that might end up being an even bigger investment in time, as you chase around uncommitted designers, bloggers, photographers, or illustrators. Not to mention the quality conundrum. 

In today’s competitive world, it’s important to produce content that demands the attention of your audience. And consumers are smart—they can easily distinguish high-quality content from the generic stuff—.

So if you can’t afford to hire the best in the content production business, licensed content from an established, reputable publisher provides the same results at a fraction of the cost. Licensing content allows you to the high-quality content you need on your site, instantly. 

Target audience broadener

Just as you can’t be everywhere all the time as a Founder, you can’t know everything—even in an industry you are most likely disrupting.

Take something as ubiquitous as images. As a fintech, traveltech, or edtech Founder, you most likely won’t have a degree in Fine Arts, video editing, or photography. But, annoyingly, many customers will expect only the best quality content on your website to feel like they can trust you. 

Sadly, the collective expertise of your audience will always be hugely greater than your own or your teams’. Even if you are a biotech company, some people will simply walk away from poor quality content—say, generic stock images—that you never even thought mattered.

Even worse, you probably don’t have the time or the spare resources to create your own content.

This is where licensed video, audio, photographic, and written content make the difference between an amateur and a professional User Experience (UX). Broad-ranging content providers, like The New York Times Licensing Group, can provide specialized material for anyone and everyone looking to make a good impression.

This is important because, quality in form and substance matters, since this constitutes the blocks that build trust. 


Startups, by definition, are newcomers to the scene and lack some of the most essential capital a company needs: Trust. 

Influencers are great at spreading the word, but their promotional material can feel affected. 

Licensed content from authors from a more formal research or journalistic background are what a startup needs to give it some gravitas. Licensed journalism that is deeply researched, highly vetted, and written using gold-standard editorial guidelines, enables brands to tap into the natural storytelling talents of award-winning writers on virtually any and all subjects. 

This isn’t some actor in a costume pushing pills in an ad. Rather, licenced content exists to further envelop customers and potential clients in the ethos of a startup with the necessary authority.

For instance, more niche startups—say those that go deep into healthtech or software innovation—can benefit from NYTLicensing’s specialized content feeds. These are curated feeds with a selection of features and news analyses that go deep into trends like tech, medicine, lifestyle, education, finance… You name it, they’ve got the data, graphics, images, and video. 

Such specialized content invites your audience to probe deeper, examine data, and improve their understanding of the breakthroughs in and around your field. The more your customer base understands that you are in possession of all the facts, the more likely they’ll trust you with their business.

What a founder can do now

Licensed content should never take the place of original, brand-specific content. But when used strategically, licensed content from award-winning talent based around the world can amplify your message and become an important part of your overall content strategy. 

You can leverage these articles and photography and video to work in tandem with your original content to widen your reach, fuel personalized campaigns, provide more value in email, build credibility, and explore innovative ideas for campaigns. 

You might have not known you needed it before you read this article, but you do now. So don’t keep sweating it: Free your time, build trust using existing authoritative content, and funnel more leads to your company.

For more information on licensing content from reputable publishers like The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Scientific American, and more, contact NYTLicensing at [email protected].


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