Small Businesses and Online Content Marketing: Do Your Web Pages Help Your Customers?

BY: ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 07, 2012

With more people going online to research business products and services before making a decision, what you publish on your website is becoming even more critical. Many small businesses don't pay enough attention to the quality of their web page content.

What you say on your web pages matters. It's no longer enough to use your site as an advertising billboard. Today smart professionals publish quality content that builds credibility, engages readers and compels them to take action. At the same time, content must be optimized for search engine results.

Take a look at your own website and rate it (excellent, just okay, or poor) for these four elements:

  • Builds credibility and trust

  • Engages readers (interesting, informative, interactive)

  • Compelling offers (clear call to action, sign up for a free offer)

  • Optimized for search engines so that you get found

Because each of these elements is crucial, there is a new specialty that's become a requirement for effective online web pages: content marketing. Content marketing means that your online content includes quality information to help readers learn about products and services, coupled with compelling calls for interaction, and optimized for searches.

If it's been awhile since you've written or revised your website content, here are some things to consider. Content marketing is more than a buzz word, it's a requirement for any business.

Content marketing specialists are usually trained in journalism, marketing and copywriting. In the work I do at ContentforCoaches.com, I've learned that what works for some professions won't work for others.

How do you sell something that people don’t know they want or need? Or, maybe they know they need help, but don’t know who to turn to.

In reviewing some of my clients’ online content this week, I was struck by how few professionals have well-written pages that engage readers. I work with business coaches. The problem coach websites have is that they are selling services that aren’t clearly defined.

Most people know when they need a dentist: they’ve got a tooth ache. If you're a business coach or consultant, it's more complicated. You're selling intangibles. But you're still selling solutions to problems.

Imagine your ideal client is like Joe Schmoe, a budding entrepreneur with procrastination problems and an online business that’s starting to take off. He needs help, but doesn’t know what kind or who to turn to. Does he need a business coach, a psychologist, a personal assistant, a mastermind group, or internet marketing expertise?

Let’s say you’re a professional with experience that matches Joe’s needs. Your online content has to convince Joe that he needs you first and foremost. You have to grab his attention by speaking to his most pressing and compelling desires.

Joe wants to be more effective in his work and in his life. He’s tired of doing the same things over and over and not getting anywhere fast enough. He wants what others seem to have: success and peace of mind.

Yet many of the coach websites and blogs I review talk in vague terms and mostly about themselves:

  • “We provide strengths-based coaching and consulting to entrepreneurs.”

  • “Visit our Leadership Coaching page to learn more about how coaching helps leaders maximize potential for themselves and their team.”

  • “Visit our page to find out how we can help you create a more productive organization.”

Compare those statements with this:

  • “After a bout with cancer four and half years ago, John saw his recovery as a second chance at success, and he was determined to make it happen. After Coach X’s assessment testing, John knew he had found the right business coach. Here is what John reports:
    • “'Coach X is there to make me better at work. He’s not a psychologist. He’s courteous and friendly, but he’s demanding because he wants me to grow in value to my company.'"

This site is personal: it talks about a real person and what he reports. It's not bland, it's specific. It draws you in to want to know more.

Too few business professionals do a good job of using client stories and case studies to show what they do and what results they get. Perhaps even more pervasive is the lack of personality on many small business sites.

People don't want to do business with a brand or anonymous people at a company. They want to interact with real people. It's up to a business to show their personality on their web pages, through client stories.

Your online site has an opportunity to connect with visitors with quality content that engages people's minds and hearts. If you don't have a staff who knows content marketing, it may be time to seek advice or outsource.

What do you think?

About the Author

Patsi Krakoff

Patsi Krakoff, Psy.D. helps business consultants with quality online content marketing. Find out more about her writing services at her award-winning content marketing blog, WritingontheWeb.com, ContentforCoaches, and read her free e-Book Content Marketing with Blogs.

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