Creating, implementing, and refining business strategy is a familiar task for small business owners. If you don’t have a vision of where you want to go and a plan to get you there, you’ll be hard pressed to make any progress. So before you leap into action, STOP and think about your strategy!
If your business is on the Web, you’ll also need web strategy to direct your efforts, help you meet your audiences where they are, and have something useful to offer them when you show up.
Content strategy connects your business strategy, your web presence, and your plans together—on the Web and off—in service to your business goals, brand story, and audiences.
- If you’re in business, a business strategy will help you achieve your goals.
- If you have a small business, the Web gives you a platform to reach more potential clients and customers.
- Web content tells a story about your business—on your website and on social media.
- Creating content intentionally is a must if you plan to shape your brand story on the Web.
- When you have a website or social media properties, it’s the content that matters most.
- Worthwhile web content meets your business needs and your audiences’ needs.
- A content strategy can guide your efforts and help you look good on the Web.
- As all good marketers know, you need to play by the current SEO rules if you want improve the odds of your web audience finding your content.
What do small businesses need to know about content strategy?
Content strategy plans for the creation, publication, and governance of useful, usable content. ~ Kristina Halvorson
The smaller the business, the more likely it is that everyone involved wears many hats and takes responsibility for multiple “departments.” Adding content strategy to your workflow can feel overwhelming so it’s important to understand how content strategy will help you reach your goals and make your life easier in the long run.
In my work with small businesses, I am an advocate for a holistic strategy development process throughout a web project. First for a business strategy that uses the Web. Second for a web strategy that fits the business goals and resources to guide us as we create or refine a website that will serve as a home base on the Web. Third, I advocate for a long-term web content strategy that’s adaptive, doable, and crafted to help the business grow. Put them all together and cycle through regularly and you can create a strategy process that generates much more than the sum of its parts.
Your web content is for your audience, even when it is about your business or your message
Content Strategy includes developing audience personas for your target audiences on the Web. If you want to effectively communicate with your audience, you need to understand them first. Understanding your audience groups starts with detailed descriptions of audience demographics, typical personality traits, and typical motivations. To make that data more useable and useful, individualize it into one person’s story by creating a persona for each target audience group. If you’re writing your own website content, you should develop audience personas for your website too. Talking to a person or meeting their needs is easier than trying to do the same for a group.
Once you know who you’re talking to, it’s time to figure out where they hang out on the Web so that you can show up there too. What social networks do they use? There are so many networks, you’ll need to be selective about where you choose to participate. Part of your choice should be based on the types of content you can successfully create and which networks will show off that content effectively. You should also see where your competition shows up. Which networks will return the most value for your business?
How do I implement my strategy / fit yet another thing into my workflow?
Create content that your audiences will use and value. Whether you want to inform, entertain, or incense, most content strategies rely on creating some original content.
Creating content means that someone has to take responsibility to do the work. Don’t leave them hanging—provide guidelines to help them do a good job. Develop or adapt a web content style guide to ensure consistency—here’s a web content style guide template to get you started. Not all content is written though, so you may need to think about creating a visual content strategy as well.
Of course, it also helps to know when to create what and why you should bother—that’s where an editorial calendar comes in. Bringing your content strategy, authors, topics, production timeline, and even current events together in one spot can help you stay on track and meet your marketing goals. Small businesses are rarely in a one-size-fits-all situation, so plan to adapt the concept to your needs rather than just using someone’s template as this post on guidelines for effective editorial calendars suggests.
If you already pay attention to your field or industry, curate content! If you’re sharing links and other content on social media, you’re already in the neighborhood. Bring your strategy and other people’s content together to create a plan for curating valuable content that reveals your unique perspective—this Content Curation Primer will get you started.
Manage your workflow with these apps
Last but not least, each person in a small business needs a process to help manage their own work and often to collaborate with others. When you’re dealing with other people’s content it’s essential to keep track of what you found, where you found it and who deserves credit. When it comes to your own practice, try these 2 tools:
Evernote is another indispensable free tool that will help you keep track of anything and everything you find interesting or useful—on the Web, in the world, in your head… Now that they’ve added reminders the workflow possibilities are endless.
Business Strategy + Web Strategy + Content Strategy = Success in a digital world
Content strategy is a worthwhile investment because content is the soul of the Web—it’s why we go to a site and why we stay. Creating powerful business web content that reflects your brand story and helps you connect with your audience can make all the difference, and it’s easier with an integrated strategy to guide you.
Don’t forget to think about your strategy process as a whole when it comes to your business, your web presence, and your web content—when you do the process and results that emerge will be even more awesome than the sum of the parts.
If you’d like to learn more about content strategy and related issues, explore our Resources on Web Content for Small Business.