Web content proves the new stumbling block for SMEs
Since the web gained critical mass some 16 years ago, the vast bulk of smaller business operators have struggled to grasp this often complex medium, let alone adopt it.
Despite the web’s amazing marketing and game changing capabilities, the majority of smaller businesses have dragged their feet when it comes to putting a toe in the digital waters.
Not that there hasn’t been some fairly significant barriers to entering the often turbulent swells the web has churned up.
Expense the initial barrier
One of the constant barriers was simply the cost of creating a half decent web presence. Since the early days some web designers have tended to charge a small fortune for their handiwork.
But those days are now well behind us as the most expensive part of the exercise, the technology, or software “code”, is now very cheaply available and in some cases free.
Even the design component (the “look and feel”) has plummeted in price as streamlined procedures and templating has shaved hours from a previously labour-intensive exercise.
Content proves challenging
However, the one area that remains labour intensive and hence expensive is the creation of quality “content” – the words and pictures that tell your story to virtual passers by.
Even though web users are known to “scan” most web content more than traditional media, they are also very quick to pick up on any aspect that is less than professional – including the written word and even more importantly, photography.
In turn this content needs to be “optimised” for search engines by the strategic placement and enhancement of your chosen keywords.
But as challenging as this activity is for many smaller business operators, it is not the single barrier to succeeding online.
That barrier is simply being able to address the web’s insatiable demand for ongoing, regular content.
Regular content generation a new and strange beast
Because unlike larger businesses that hire professional staff to service their ongoing content requirements, smaller business neither have the time, resources or procedures to feed the hungry content beast.
As reported here on several occasions, smaller business are more familiar with a “set and forget” approach to their promotion.
They plan their activities for the period ahead, engage the professionals responsible for creating and implementing it, and essentially wait for the enquiries to roll in.
Yellow Pages captured this situation brilliantly in their “not happy Jan” advertising. If a deadline was missed it might be an awful long time before the next opportunity arose – taking with it valuable opportunity cost.
But this approach is the antithesis of what is required in the online world.
An audience thirsty for more
Now, not only is regular content demanded of an always-on market, but it is rewarded by two of the biggest online influencers there is.
Search engines reward the posting of regular content by giving it a higher ranking on their search results pages while regular, interesting content is the lifeblood of that other online interloper, social networking.
This thirst for a constant stream of regular content has caught all but the most literate smaller business operators completely unawares.
The notion of supplying new content on as much as a daily basis is one that they just haven’t had to contend with before. And one that proves challenging to a sector notoriously short of time and funds.
It’s no wonder they remain the most sluggish of all online adopters.
Have you had to adopt to providing regular content? Tell us how you’ve gone about it by commenting below.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.