Although the essence of marketing is communicating with your target markets, so many SME businesses focus on HOW they want to communicate rather than WHAT they want to communicate. Back in 2016, I wrote this article. While we all embrace the lockdown(!) as an opportunity to work on our business rather than just in our business, I felt now is a good time to revisit the content elephant.
Actually, if you truly know what message/content you wish to communicate to effectively promote your products/services, then deciding HOW to communicate it is relatively straightforward. Undoubtedly you will be constrained by the resources you can afford to commit to marketing. TV advertising is not for everyone!. However, there is an ever-expanding range of online tools (including Websites, Social Media, Click Advertising, Banner Advertising etc.) that can be accessed and effectively used at low cost, or even for free in some cases if you are prepared to put a bit of effort into learning what to do from the plethora of online tutorials and advice. The challenge is not so much HOW you communicate as WHAT you communicate.
Some people (often the truly successful entrepreneurs) have an innate skill for content. They are lucky. They have a natural talent and can just do it.
Content creation in the real world
The problem for the rest of us is that when you turn to consider what it is that you want to say, coming up with relevant content can be challenging for many businesses. I think the issue is that deciding on content is a creative risk. There is no-one can tell you what you want to say. You have to think for yourself and there is a strong desire to try to get it right – there is a focus on trying to be perfect when you can’t! I would go further, I believe that there is no perfect.
Consequently, instead of biting the bullet and diving into content creation, accepting that it won’t be perfect, it is enticing to avoid the issue and get sidetracked into the HOW.
Let’s learn all about LinkedIn/Twitter/Google Ads etc. – because if we learn this we will be better at producing perfect content.
Tapping into this sentiment, many businesses have grown up offering training and focusing on the HOW. OK, some of these businesses (the better ones!) will include tools and ideas to help with content creation but when it comes down to ‘defining the magic words and pictures’ for your own business, it is down to you.
I believe that most people who take up the training fail to benefit significantly because once they have learnt the skills HOW to communicate, they realise they still need to commit to deciding WHAT they want to say.
What about creative agencies and graphic designers?
Of course, there are also many creative agencies who have skills working in both words and pictures who can help with content creation but they often present a number of challenges:
- They don’t know your business (at least to start with)
- You have to give them a brief – so you are still having to set out your own core message
- They can’t read your mind. What they come up with might not fit with your own thinking
- Creative development can take time
- Agencies are selling time so they (particularly the good ones!) can get expensive
Building a relationship with a good creative who understands your business can be valuable but this process normally requires significant investment in time and money.
Focusing on Content – a solution
If you aren’t in a position to invest (considerable) budgets on content creation, it is back to you, I’m afraid, even if you believe you don’t have a natural talent for content.
The answer is simple, even if not particularly appealing. Just do it! Don’t get sidetracked to the HOW. Accept that you need to focus on the WHAT.
OK, you need to focus on your message, but actually, your message does not need to be perfect. Remember that different people receive messages differently so even if you think your content is perfect, others may not agree! What’s important is that you are honest and truly believe what you are saying about the benefit and value you deliver to your customers.
An honest, relevant message with less than perfect delivery can still be powerful and effective.
If you are proud of your message and really believe it then if your delivery isn’t perfect it probably doesn’t really matter.
Like it on not, luck plays a part in marketing
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the key to guaranteed marketing success is to be really skilful at using marketing tools. This is not true.
There are countless examples (possibly most commercial social media!) where people with significant technical expertise communicate messages with the aim of going viral. However, the content withers and dies never to see the light of day because it doesn’t engage.
Equally, Social Media is awash with examples of stories that inadvertently went viral because they happened to really connect with their audience. These stories can start as no more than communication between a few people or posts on a local forum, but they end up with a life of their own and become unstoppable – often with unanticipated consequences – but that is another story.
4 Tips for effective content
Finally, here are 5 tips to get you started addressing the ‘Content elephant’
- Take time to ask yourself what it is that you do? Not the mechanics but the benefit you deliver to you customers and clients – maybe you could ask them?
- Focus on generating content you truly believe in. Content that truly reflects your business proposition
- Test your content. Get critiques from people you trust. Listen to them and be ready to adapt.
- Don’t try to be perfect. Perfect does not exist!
- Don’t ignore the content elephant. Get your content in place then look at your delivery – NOT the other way around.
If you would like to chat, please get in touch