Unless your small business relies on referral alone, to survive you will need to keep existing customers engaged and replace those that do leave. If you want to do more than survive and grow your business, you will need to keep finding new customers.
To retain existing customers and find new ones, you need a sales and marketing process. To fuel that process, you need content. That has been the case since the invention of the printing press. Content marketing, as it is now known, existed long before the world wide web.
The problem is creating content takes time and effort. You can outsource its production (at a cost), or produce it in-house (an opportunity cost). Ideally, you need the maximum return from each piece of content you produce and for that, you need a small business content plan.
What Is Content
Content is a package (a block) of information on a given subject and can take many forms. The simplest might be a text email, the most complex could be a company video or podcast. Content can be text, images, video or audio. These can be combined into a multitude of formats.
Once produced, content needs to be delivered in some way. That could be via one or more online channels or via various offline routes.
The Purpose Of Content
If you do invest in producing content, then you need to clearly understand what objective you are trying to achieve. The reasons for producing small business content are:
- Awareness building
- Lead generation
- Search Engine Marketing
You need to fit each piece of content you produce into one (and only one) of those categories. Awareness building, lead generation and content to build credibility are discussed elsewhere on this blog.
In theory, you also need content to build your business profile online. You will need text, photography and more for your Google My Business and Bing Places profile. You need content for your website. The amount (and type) of content you need for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is debatable.
Until someone in your target audience consumes your content, effectively it does not exist. However, SEO is not the only way to drive people to your website/content.
Content Strategy & Planning
The content strategy process is the same as any strategy process (discussed in detail elsewhere on this blog). To clarify with an example, let’s say you set out to climb a mountain. The goal is to reach the summit. An objective might be to climb 1000m per day. You decide the best strategy to achieve that objective is to take an indirect route to avoid a dangerous rockfall area.
So first, what is your goal? What outcome are you trying to achieve? If possible, try to quantify that goal. What do you offer and who are you trying to talk to (your audience)?
Next, break down your goals into objectives. Make sure your objectives are quantified and have a specific timescale. With this in place, you can move on to strategy and decide, in broad terms, how to proceed.
Finally, you need your tactics, as these are the tools and techniques you will use. This is where the detailed planning starts of what to do and when.
Whereas the goal is fixed, the quantity and timescales associated with objectives can change. You construct a plan based on the information you have available at a point in time. You then adapt that plan as things move and change around you. You might also tweek your strategy to match changing circumstances.
The point is you should have a structure that you adapt over time. You should know what you are trying to achieve and deliver consistently. Creating content on an ad hoc basis driven by some event (or crisis) will simply waste your time and money.