Welcome to 2022, wherever you are. I hope that this year proves to be manageable and your success lies in finding the time to do the things that refill you.
Speaking of time, I wanted to post about saving time for those of us who manage the online presence of our business, department or institution. I’ve run web writing workshops for 20 years and inevitably someone will raise the issue of not having enough content with which they can work. To them, the idea of creating content means that they have to come up with every idea from scratch and this is daunting to them. They end up producing no content because of this writer’s block.
The reality is for your business is that you have content revolving around you all day, every day. The skill lies in identifying it, catching it and then streamlining it for use on the web. But it can also go beyond the social media or web space – this content can be used in your newsletters, printed brochureware, signage or even your messages on hold system.
As much as the Internet has given us so much opportunity to connect and engage with people, it has also made our jobs that much harder by adding dozens of potential communication channels to your mix, and channels that are all squawking hungrily for content every hour of every day.
So there’s good news – this content to feed these channels is already in your business … and here are a few short-cuts for you to identify it.
- Capture what your customers say, regardless of its nature
Any time a customer takes a moment to provide you with some feedback, you should be capturing it. Obviously the ideal one is when they email or write to say your product is the best thing since sliced bread or they’ve appreciated your great service. This is the one piece of content that businesses readily share, but that’s not it.
There is another part of the customer feedback loop that is vastly unappreciated by business; the feedback you get where customers are unhappy. In my experience, businesses spend a lot of energy pretending that this feedback just doesn’t exist.
But this can be captured and used as content, providing you put some context into where the problem was and, if necessary, how your business fixed it. Throwing these stories into the balance with all the “we love ABC Plumbing, oh yes we do” comments.
This is what I mean: you might have a customer who bought your widget and has let you know it wasn’t working. Let’s say it’s their fault; they’re using it wrongly. So you deal with them, sort them out and then move on. But now you have a piece of content to use. Not in the sense of pointing out how the customer was wrong, but potentially there is some useful advice you can give BEFORE customers use it wrongly; read instructions, check the spec sheet, measure twice. Publish that, and you come across as nice, helpful people and the extra benefit to you is that you minimize future customer complaints where they are at fault.
You might have another customer who tells you you’re too expensive. Take that content and turn it into a post about VALUE. Don’t talk price; talk about why you’re the best option and paying a little more will save money for your customers in the medium-term.
You might have another customer who says your delivery was late. You might need to spend some of your content focus on explaining delivery times and expectations or even telling your customers that you are shifting delivery companies because the last one wasn’t reliable enough. That kind of ownership carries value in the minds of your customers.
- Capture what your staff do
One thing successful businesses do is realize that the brand is more than the logo. Your brand is your personality and your people who support customers to find a solution to their problem.
There is content happening all the time through staff achievements, through their challenges, taking on a new process or even identifying shortcuts.
So talk about your own people. They are the ones who will inspire prospective customers to start a business conversation with you. More and more research is showing that people trust brands less and less, but they trust people who support them.
How many times have you switched brands because of shoddy customer service, follow up or even sales? I’ve walked out of dozens of retail outlets because staff just didn’t want to help me. Conversely, I’ve gone back to places that I felt looked after my needs.
3. Communicate the WHY of change
Many businesseses are reasonably good at telling how things have changed – new location, new staff or new products.
But if you focus on WHY things have changed, that makes more compelling content. You don’t just have a new location, you have a more convenient location to your key customers. You don’t just have a new sales manager, you’ve brought in new expertise in a particular field. Your product isn’t just new, it’s a companion product to ones others have bought.
Where is this content hidden? In staff meetings. Ask the why question and you’ll find it.
So listen in. There will be enough content there to keep you going for a while, and help balance out the sales-focussed pleas for business.