If you do any search engine optimization for your small business, you’ve probably read or heard someone say that you need to write great, unique high-quality content that everyone wants to link to. I have said that many times myself. The problem is, and I’ve said this many times, that advice is not very helpful. for small businesses. While great content important, not all of your content has to be perfection.
Many larger businesses have the money to hire staff for content writing or pay freelancers to create copious amounts of content. Small businesses don’t. They have to maximize every dollar they spend and need to know they will receive a return on their investment. You are probably worried that if you don’t have great content, you won’t customers, but you are worried about spending the money since content marketing can be tricky at best.
Rather than focusing on “great content” I suggest you focus on content that your audience will find helpful, useful or interesting. Think about the magazines, newspapers and stuff you read online. It’s not always of the caliber of the New York Times, Atlantic, or other publications that produce insanely well-researched pieces. Even those publications put out content every now and then that isn’t Pulitzer-prize winning content, but is still interesting.
Not everyone has the time or energy to read in-depth case studies, long and detailed critiques of industry trends, and other such content. Sometimes they just want some basic advice, maybe a tip or two, and perhaps even a humorous post. People love knowing what’s going on inside of businesses. It interests them and caters to their natural curiosity, but also helps you by showing how there are real people behind the walls of your company.
I was working with one small business that required every piece of content to go through a review before getting posted to the blog or social networks. Every time an article was reviewed, there were the inevitable edits that had to be made. Usually they had nothing to do with grammar or stylistic improvements. Instead, the marketing manager wanted something else mentioned. Sales was worried about this. Development thought the piece over-promised, and so on. Sometimes, upper management just wanted to chime in because, well, if they didn’t they wouldn’t seem very engaged, now would they?
My recommendation? Try letting the content go out for two weeks without any reviews, and I meant for nothing. Whoever wrote the article was responsible for its content. A few things happened. For one, the writers felt more engaged and in control of their work. They know that what they wrote would actually be published. They also wrote about things that normally would not been passed through the review process.
The results were very interesting. Mistakes did increase. There were more grammatical errors and few technical problems, but for the most part the content stuck the basic tone the business sought. Comments on the blog picked up dramatically, and so did social sharing. Most people though the articles were interesting, fun, and several flat-out said they liked the new approach (mind you, this wasn’t something announced, but it was obvious that the engagement levels picked up when the pressure to produce perfect content was removed).
In the end, the company opted to go with a less formal review process. They still wanted to make sure stuff was of the appropriate quality, but it didn’t need to be perfection and it certainly didn’t need to have the review of all the department managers. An interesting side effect was that some of the managed wanted to write future articles, and they started paying a visit to the writers more often. Ideas started to be shared and information was flowing more easily in the company.
So my advice to you as a small business is don’t worry about perfection so much. The content doesn’t have to be top-notch every time. You should certainly create the in-depth case study every now and then, but not every week. Share more about what is happening inside your business. Offer up some humor and some useful advice. Not every piece of content requires analysis and commentary. You will find that you enjoy writing the content more, feel more engaged, and that you readers will enjoy your articles more.