Something I was never very good at was explaining to people what I do for a living when I was being asked at social gatherings and the like.
And I’m still not very good at it, but that’s okay because then I am driven back to continue to think and evolve the way I communicate these things better.
It can be tough to introduce what you do in a non-threatening informational, educational way that answers their question of what do you do?
And so, business owners have always been told to craft an elevator pitch.
And at its core, this is because consumers need to be able to trust whoever they hire.
And, a well-crafted elevator pitch can start to build this trust on the most basic level.
It shows competency and a willingness to help. It shows that you’ve spent time just thinking about these things on the most basic level, being able to articulate them effectively.
Because it’s not always easy to say what you mean; to be heard. Especially in today’s world, where people from so many different backgrounds and cultures interact and help each other on an everyday basis.
When you really think about it, we all truly actually have our own language. We all understand things differently because we all have a different context which has helped shape and form this information and understanding we have.
Why Is Content So Important for your Website?
So, think about it this way. If a person walked into your business or called you up, sent you an email, stopped you on the street, in an elevator, or at a party, wherever it is, and they honestly asked you questions about your business and were trying to gain info to solve a problem of theirs.
Could you answer their questions speaking calmly and professionally about the problems that they’re having, why they may be having it, educating them, helping them understand different solutions, and things that are out there, in a way, that, you know, educates and empowers them?
But also answering in a way that is, you know, non-threatening. So we’re not saying, “Hey, you suck unless you hire me.” Or, “Hey, you’re not gonna have this without me, or my company, or what I offer.” Because we all know that’s just not the truth.
So, could you answer and speak to them in that way, and chances are, the answer is yes.
Doing this starts to reveal you to be trustworthy, caring, and authoritative, which, are the types of people and companies we love doing business with.
Because even though the relationship, the business to customer relationship, is formed around commerce—that’s the very nature of the relationship—nobody likes to be treated badly, and we like to do business with people we get along with, with our friends, not so much with our family sometimes, but … (laughs).
The point is, the same holds true for your small business website.
People like websites that educate and empower them.
The content on your website is what provides value to your current and potential customers online. Website content takes the place(in a way) of the in-person interaction and lets the user access the information to digest, understand, and utilize in the way they see fit and on their own time and at their own pace. Excellent website content can also lead a person to reach out to your business.
But this honestly does look different for each business, the end result.
And it truly does take time, different amounts for each business.
But as consumers in general, I would say we need more websites, small business websites that are trustworthy, caring, and authoritative; that are focused on education and empowerment.
And fewer websites that exploit, spam, and sell; that is just about the transaction, that is just about making money, making more money.
Cause that’s what the internet’s main pitch is, “Hey, come to the internet and grow your business. Make more money.”
Well, hey, the real truth is come to the internet, and serve your customers effectively using the tools that are out there, and you’re gonna have success.
It’s really that easy, but it looks different for each small business, and it does take time, different amounts, for each business owner, depending on who you are, what you do.
The Role or Natures of Content in Digital Marketing
We can provide this type of quality experience to our customers online, and throughout our websites, with content, and the various different ways we can deliver this content.
So the goal is always to provide value to your customers, to your users, your clients, in person, and online. And we can do this through content.
The content will do what you do in person; online.
Specifically, I have found that there are four different natures or uses for content that we will need to utilize. Keep in mind that each businesses end result is different, but the ‘nature’ or categories are going to be the same for all small and local businesses.
But remember that the goal here is to provide value.
Educate and empower, not exploit or sell.
The main nature’s or categories of website content are:
1. Informational Content
So, why does a website need to have informational content? What is informational website content for a small business?
At its most basic level, this starts with your name, your address, and your phone number. AKA your NAP.
And then the rest of your business information. Your business hours, your fax number, if you still have a fax number.
You should have maps, directions if people come to you in person.
Email addresses if it’s fitting for people to email you directly.
Informational things that give people information about your business.
What are the hard facts?
2. Educational Content
And part of this also blends with the next one, which is educational.
Informational kinda leads to educational, and educational content is content about who you are, what you do, which, as you can see, is also informational to a degree.
What you do, who you provide it to, why you do it, how you do it, how that’s different, specific ways about how you’re doing it.
Educational about what the problem is that your specific customers or clients have, you know, like what leads them to the point where they have this problem.
Explain the problem, potential solutions, why your solution is the best fit for a specific type of person.
But again, no need to be overbearing, be a L.E.A.D.E.R. for them.
3. Conversational Content
And conversational content is just kind of like “hey, this isn’t me saying I am better, I am even the best, even if I am the best”, and there’s a place for that to come out, which is usually, if the work is good, and you truly are the best, that comes out in your online reviews naturally.
So. It’s not really accepted well when a business is saying,
“Oh, we’re the best, we’re the best, we’re the best,” if there’s no proof you’re the best.
So, the content needs to be conversational content that says,
“Hey, I’m here to educate you. Do you have questions about this specific thing? Well, here’s everything I know.”
“Hey, we can start here. Here’s a, you know, kind of broad-view level of what’s going on with your problem. We can go specific. Is it this, this, this, or this? Okay, we can get even more specific from there. And then we can talk about solutions. We can show you the various different options out there.”
And none of this content is saying, “Hey, you have to hire me to have this.”
It’s just educating them.
And what happens when we just educate people with a goal of bringing them clarity?
Clarity is what really empowers people to make decisions.
Clarity empowers them to make purchases.
What is my problem? What is my solution? Am I clear on all of this? Am I clear that this is the right choice?
And education does this when it’s in a conversational type of format.
You’re not asking the probing questions just to make them feel like dirtbags who are incapable of solving their own problems.
You’re just letting them kinda lead the conversation, in a way, while providing options for them to explore and learn, and get in touch with you when they’re ready.
Which, is why your website also needs to be conversion-optimized (tap/click here to view my other must-haves for your small business website), and it also does need to have transactional content on it as well.
4. Transactional Content
What’s transactional content?
Transactional content is, at its most base-level, what it sounds like. Content that is actually transactional in nature.
Something purchasable online.
Content is transactional if they give you an email address, if they give you a phone number, if they fill out a contact form, if they download an ebook, if they subscribe to your blog, to your articles, to your podcast, to your YouTube channel.
Whatever it is, we need non-threatening content to be transactional in nature because that is the very nature of the relationship.
We are giving them all of this informational, educational, and conversational content. And what that is doing is saying “hey, (by the very nature of this relationship) this content, it also is transactional.”
That’s what commerce is, and that’s what small business is.
We’re providing products and service, commerce. And people know that on a core, fundamental level. Even if they don’t really think about it.
And so, we’re giving them all of this amazing content. We’re giving them the ability on their time to look through it, to read, to understand it, to ask questions if they have it, to interact on social media with other customers and clients.
And then we’re giving them opportunities to reach out when they’re ready, to raise their hand, to say, “Okay, yeah. I get it. You’re the authority, and not only can you help me with my problem, but,” you know, if you list your prices on your website, then, “Hey, yeah, and you’re also affordable.” Or at least at that point, “I’m going to find out if I can afford you.”
What Your Content Does
At this point, people aren’t too concerned with pennies on the dollar. It’s truly about the experience.
“I’ll pay extra for a better experience,” but then again, it also depends on your business, it really does.
And remember, these are just categories or natures of content.
These are things that content does, and then mediums or types of content is what we’ll get into next.
But things that content does for us, and content has to do it in place of us, where we do it in person.
In-person, we have to be informational. “Yes, my business name is this, my phone number’s this, my address is this, this is what I do.”
We have to be educational.
My elevator pitch!
We have to actually be able to help these people understand and solve their own problem, which is likely to hire you.
We have to be conversational.
We can’t be bashing, we can’t be putting them down, making them feel shameful, or like they’re not good enough, whatever it is.
It’s not about what they can’t do or what you can do because if it’s about what you can do then it’s about what they can’t do.
So, it ‘s(website content) about just educating and empowering them on their time.
You can’t just go to a person that looks unhealthy and say, “Hey, eating healthy will solve your problems and this is how you go about it” Or, “Juicing celery in the morning on an empty stomach will do X, Y, or Z”, and you’re saying it to a person that needs that benefit.
You can’t just do that to people.
You can’t just go up to someone and say, “Hey, did you know working out makes you stay fit?” to somebody who’s 400 pounds overweight.
You have to be informational, educational, and you have to be conversational if you want the opportunity to be transactional. Furthermore, you have to be able to deliver the right words in the right way to each person in order to effectively communicate your message to them in person. So, this is what we must do online and what these natures and types of content will help you start to do.
So, nature’s or categories for website content are informational, educational, conversational, and transactional.
This is what your content must be. This is what you must be.
Types of Content or Mediums of Content
So now that we know what our content does let’s quickly discuss the mediums for the content that can be used throughout your small business website.
Which, is to say that we are looking at some of the delivery methods, or website tools or functions used to deliver the types of content we need on our small business websites.
So, now that we have discussed the types of content your website will need, or the nature’s of your content, you can use these next suggestions to start to form a picture in your mind of what your content could look like, and how it could take shape on your website, and provide value to your current and potential customers.
Of course, most websites are going to utilize a combination of all the mediums because, as you’ll come to realize, and depending on your business, different types of information require different types of delivery methods to be successful in their reception, and this holds true both in-person and online. To be heard once found.
Now, the most common content mediums which could also be called types of content, if we’re calling the others ‘natures of content’, that can be used to deliver value, along with some examples, are:
- Written content
- Business and Contact Info
- Blogs / Articles
- How To’s
- Product or Service Info
- Video content
- How To
- Audio content
- Spoken word articles
- Content through imagery
- Graphic Design
- Social media content
- Live Streams
- User-generated content
- Reviews / Recommendations
Of course, there are so many more ways we can deliver value to our clients through our website, depending on what your business offers and who you offer it to. For example, a real estate agent can provide value through content by having home search functionality on their website that allows their clients to save searches and homes, rank and take notes, all of which go straight to their Realtor.
You can utilize these tools how you see fit to best deliver your content, message, value to your customer base online.
Another way to think about these types of content(written, video, etc.) is by pairing them with the natures or uses for the content like so.
Writing Informationally. Writing Educationally. Writing Conversationally. Writing Transactionally.
Information through video. Education through video. Conversation through Video. Transactional video content.
And on and on.
Content, content, content
There are tons of different kinds of content we can create, but at its core, the content must provide value.
The content must serve a purpose beyond selling, beyond being transactional.
This is the same to say that our content can not only be transactional.
In fact, it’s actually to say, our content will not be successful in being received, or heard if it is not all of the above(informational, educational, conversational, transactional, and delivered in the best way possible).
Content equals value.
Content equals what you can’t be online.
Content equals what you do in person, day in and day out, and what it’s gonna do online is lead them to you to continue doing that and deliver on it further.
So, not only are they gonna look at your content online, but then they’re still gonna expect you to do all this with them as well. But it’s gonna already be more natural because you didn’t try to exploit or sell them.
And not everyone’s gonna go through all of it the way some people will, and some people won’t go through any of your content.
But the point is you need to be able to do the same thing online and through your website as you do in person, over the phone, through email, video, whatever it is.
This is how you can start to more robustly provide value to your clients in addition to starting to build up your online authority. Which, yes, does usually mean some more organic traffic, leads, growth, and whatnot. But, those are the happy results of following the right approach to all of this internet marketing stuff, and they should not be the focus; provide value.
The content on your website is how you deliver value to your customers online.
Give this continued thought.