Content is a Powerful Business Development Tool, If You Make Time for It  10/28/2021


I love seeing my industry friends hit the ground running with content, posting a steady stream of videos, blogs, photos and quick blurbs that deliver value. But then, just as it seems they are getting into a groove, the content flow abruptly stops. They just disappear from social media. Fall off the face of the Earth.

The No. 1 reason for this, they tell me, is that they got too busy. Their time became taken up with a project, or meetings, or too many conference calls. And as many of them are small business owners with little or no marketing resources, they just didn't have the time to create and post regularly.

What it really comes down to is the fact that many small businesses are not viewing content as the business development tool that it is. Instead, they see it as an add-on, a "nice-to-have," something to be done on that side in their spare time. But when does an entrepreneur ever has spare time? 

And so because of this, like all nice-to-have things, when times get busy, their content efforts are dropped.

But content doesn't work that way. Its benefits come from the frequency and consistency in which you deliver value to your audience. There is so much out there online vying for people's attention, that unless you are putting out content on a regular basis, you won't be top-of-mind with potential customers when they have a need for your product or service. 

Of course, no one would expect a busy entrepreneur to focus on content all day long. I can’t even do that and “content” is in my job title! But in order to make content work for you, you have to put a little dedicated time into it and post consistently.

An Extension of Business Development

The key is to start viewing your content as an extension of your business development efforts, and schedule your "content time" as you would schedule any sales call or meeting. Because, when you think about it, content really is part of your business development, and the best part about consistent posting is that your content, once it's posted, continues to work for you while your tending to your other tasks – and even while you are sleeping!

There are three things you must consider when embarking on a content strategy:

  • Content type: First, you have to determine what type of content works best for you, based on your skills, time available, and willingness to get your face in front of the camera. There are so many different types of content you can post that everyone should be able to find a sweet spot that's right for them. Videos are among the most consumed content out there, but if you are shy, or if you like to write, you can focus on blogs. Does your business lend itself to visual representation? Maybe regular image posts will work for you. Or you can focus on podcasts if you prefer to keep your face behind-the scenes. There are so many types of content that can deliver value to your target audience; they key is finding what works best for you.
  • Content frequency: Next, determine a realistic frequency with which you can create and post this content. Here I must emphasize, REALISTIC. Think in terms of one year. At what frequency can you consistently post over the course of an entire year? If that’s once a week, then do that (though I recommend more frequent posting if possible). The important thing is consistency over the long term. One post a week over the course of a year is much better than daily posting that ends after a month. 
  • Scheduling content: Whatever frequency you decide on, build it into your schedule. Literally, block out time on your calendar during which you will create and post content, and protect this time. This way you can plan your meetings and other tasks around it so that it's not skipped when you get busy.

Once you get into the habit of creating and posting content regularly on a schedule, a few things will happen. You’ll start noticing over time that your engagement starts to increase, and this will reinforce your desire to post on a regular basis (you may even start to feel guilty when you miss a day). More importantly, the more you regularly create content, the more you’ll discover additional content opportunities everywhere.

One of the biggest challenges among people starting in the content game is that they have trouble coming up with ideas. The key thing to keep in mind, when posting B2B content, is your audience of potential customers. You need to deliver value, so it has to be about them, not about you. An occasional promo is okay, but what builds trust and engagement among your community are insights that will help THEM. What kind of content will help them to do their jobs better, to solve their problems? To work more effectively?

Of course, you want to try to make it related to your product or service. So if you sell tea, for example, make content about trends in the category, or about what buyers should look for when they are selecting a tea vendor. Maybe some content about how to effectively sell tea to consumers. Or how to demo tea samples in their stores. One easy way to come up with content ideas is your own customers. What questions are you frequently answering from your customers? If those answers are relevant for one particular customer, chances are it would be helpful to others out there who are not yet your customers.

You can also create content about your business and processes. For the tea supplier example above, make videos of the farms where the tea is grown, interview the farmers. Show the packaging process, or give people an inside look at how you developed the packaging design. Without giving away proprietary information, pull back the veils a bit and show everyone how you do what you do. Why do you think TV shows like "How it's Made" are so popular?   

And don't be afraid to insert a bit of your personality into your content. We do business with people, after all, not companies. Let them know the real you, the person who they would see if they met with you in-person. Feel free to have an opinion. 

Over time, regular practice, combined with the feedback from engagement on your posts, will raise the content antennas in your brain, and soon you’ll be finding opportunities everywhere – from customer calls, meetings, from business partners. It’s like any muscle; the more you work it, the stronger and more efficient and effective it becomes.

A great time investment

It's definitely time well spent. While you won't be calling clients during the time you are creating and posting content, once it's posted, you are reaching potentially reaching far more prospects with that one piece of content than you can ever reach making calls and emails during that same amount of time.

My friend Emily Page is a case-in-point. As CEO of packaging design and product development firm Pearl Resourcing, she regularly posts blogs and videos with packaging design tips, as well as advice for emerging brands looking to break into retail. She regularly gets leads from her content, which is out there doing the work for her 24/7. And some of her biggest clients came from blog posts she wrote for ECRM (see some of her blog post links below).

Even more importantly than driving leads, what Emily has found is that all of the content she puts out helps validate her capabilities in the minds of those prospects she is currently in conversations with.

Think about it. When we are meeting with someone or looking to hire someone to do a job for us, we tend to look them up online. Well, when someone Google's "Emily Page Pearl Resourcing," a ton of her content pops up on a variety of topics including packaging design, acing your buyer meetings, and building virtual presentations for buyers (I make a cameo in some of these from our ECRM interviews).

What this does is help the prospect justify their decision to do business with Emily. From her content, they see that:

1. She clearly knows what she is talking about
2. She is taking the time to deliver value to her audience.
3. She has a friendly, engaging personality

So if a prospect is deciding between hiring Emily and another prospect to consult for them, and the other prospect has no content whatsoever out there, who do you think they are going to go with?

So Emily's time creating content was definitely time well spent! And she’s not alone.

You can do the same. All you have to do is put in the work. And the more work you put into creating content, the more that content will work for you out in the digital world.

 

Here are some of the posts by Emily Page, as an example of some great B2B content: 

 

Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content
ECRM

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