For most of us – the small-to-medium enterprises who make up 91% of formalised businesses in South Africa and account for 34% of the GDP – there is no safety net. We have to be able to think on our feet, connect more personally with our customers and change with them, because they don’t come to us expecting to get the corporate treatment.
The advantage we have over the big corporates is that we’re freer to control the narratives around our brands. And the way we do that is through content. Working with small businesses and personal brands, I have found that more often than not, they look great online, but can’t figure out why no one’s looking. And usually, it comes down to refining their goal.
So, pour yourself a cup of tea, get your notepad out, and let’s start brainstorming.
- Why do your customers come to you?
It sounds obvious, but we get so bogged down by the details sometimes that we lose sight of why we do what we do.
What is your customer looking for? For most businesses, it comes down to a product or service (thanks for that). The whole point of online content is to provide your customers with information that will:
- help them make the right choice and
- lead them to buy from you.
TIP: In one sentence, define what it is you do that 1.) people are willing to pay you for and 2.) will make people choose you over your competition.
- How do your customers find you?
Are you in a directory, do you have an agent or do you rely on Google? No matter who we are, we always need more people to find us. But so many companies opt out of doing this legwork and just end up throwing money at the problem.
Whether you’ve explored Google or Facebook ads – or have advertised on a major publication’s website – the problem remains the same. Assuming people aren’t using ad blockers and find your ad engaging enough to click on, your ad is only as effective as the page they land on.
And no, a home page isn’t going to cut it. You need to consider the whole journey – what made them click and what do they expect to find? Are you giving them the information they’re looking for and will they get value for money? If your content isn’t engaging your users in the right way, you’re simply shouting into the bottomless pit of “brand awareness” and getting back an echo.
TIP: Figure out what online channel your business revolves around. If people buy your product or service on your website, make it your focus. If you get most of your enquiries on Facebook – that’s where you need to be.
- How do your customers engage with you?
A lot of businesses – small businesses especially – often fall back on the excuse, “I haven’t got time for that.” You can outsource this kind of thing. People expect businesses to be accessible. Even the big corporates are realising this.
A couple of years ago, I had to cancel a flight on KLM. After having no joy with the Joburg call centre, I went to their Twitter page, where I managed to cancel my flight and arrange the refund within 20 minutes. The result: the next time I flew that route I chose KLM.
And this theory was confirmed recently when I worked it into a client’s strategy. The brand launched a members-only Facebook page that became so successful within a month that they are now adding it to their vendor service offering.
If these efforts get you ten enquiries that lead to sales per month, what impact will that have on your business? Most of the time, making yourself approachable is enough to breed a loyal customer base.
TIP: Figure out where your customers would want to get in touch with you and do what you can to set it up.
- What do you want?
Finally, we get to your needs. Chances are you’ve been in business long enough to know what’s realistic and what’s a pipe dream. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Keep in mind that a manageable 5% more website visitors month on month means 30% more visitors over six months.
Leapfrogging to your goal won’t sustain you. Also, if you build towards it, you’ll learn more about what your customers want, which is the most valuable information you can get your hands on.
TIP: Look at your analytics. How many website visits do you get per month? What content does well? Which social media posts are people you don’t know actually responding to? Once you figure that out, set your goal to increase those numbers incrementally over the next six months.
- What do you want your customers to do?
At last, we reach your end goal. As obvious as it seems, so many businesses tell the whole anecdote, but get mysterious around the time they need to deliver the punchline. It’s like leading a horse to a row of troughs, not letting it drink and then being surprised when it drinks from someone else’s trough.
Rest assured, you’re not underestimating your customers’ intelligence by telling them what to do. They won’t do it if it doesn’t suit them. In fact, you’re telling them what they’ll be choosing by choosing you. If they feel they can get a better deal somewhere else, that’s a discussion for another time. But by omitting the instruction, you’re only taking choice away from them – and potential business away from you.
TIP: Even if this feels silly, write down what makes your business tick. For a tourism or catering company, it’s converting website visitors to customers. For a directory service, it’s leading visitors to vendors.
Now, write down your primary goal using this formula:
To increase [website visitors] by [10%] month on month for the next [6 months] that will lead to  [enquiries/sales] per month.
Once you’ve identified this goal, the content possibilities suddenly become clearer – even if it involves a cold call or two. But you’ve laid the foundation for a rock-solid content plan with a purpose.
Content plans can be daunting. Why not get in touch and let’s see how we can align your content with your business needs?