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Imagine doing business 25 years ago. For most businesses, the only people who would hear from you are locals. If you even wanted one chance If you are known outside of your area, all you can do is buy hugely expensive radio, television, or newspaper ads. Telephoning the neighboring postcode also often resulted in long-distance charges.
All companies today have such incredible access to people for such a cheap price that if you told someone about it in 1995 they would laugh at you as crazy. And the only thing you need to use this incredible power? A website, social media profiles and content.
“Publish or perish” has always been a synonym for professors, but today it applies to every entrepreneur in all industries and market sizes. If you don’t post content, you just can’t reach people in a world where 70 million blog posts are published every month. and that’s just wordpress.com Web pages.
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With the power of unlimited range, there are completely new challenges
Before the digital age, there was a key advantage: As a local company, you could operate in your own bubble. There was no expectation to produce a lot of content and the competition was limited to a handful of people around you. Most of the time, as long as you had an entry in the local phone book, you would at least get calls and have a chance of attracting a customer.
Now you don’t just have to worry about your immediate competitors. You also need to grapple with the expectations of all other industries. This is happening because other independent companies are being forced to step up their digital content game in order to be competitive. Customers get used to certain amenities, and research and buying decisions are made based on what all other industries are doing.
By default, when I’m used to looking up information on topics and having easy access to important information without ever speaking to anyone, I judge the quality of any company. Say you run a restaurant but your menu is not easy to find or access. My first impression is that I’m incredibly frustrated and wondering why you can’t even afford to have the most basic feature on your website.
Here’s the deal: you won’t just be measured by the expectations placed on your competitors’ business operations. You will be judged on the digital expectations and experiences that all other industries describe as “normal”.
If you ignore this, the result is simple: you lose a large chunk of your prospects for reasons that you can’t even properly identify as it isn’t directly related to your actual product or service quality.
Related: The world evolved for young entrepreneurs because of the power of the internet: Kavin Bharti Mittal
If you ignore the importance of content, your business is incredibly vulnerable
There are two main risk factors at play:
- Larger technology-based companies (like Grubhub and HomeAdvisor)
- New, direct competitors who prioritize digital communication.
In the first scenario, the technology-based company is basically a marketing and lead-gen company with a different label. Often times, they partner with local businesses by providing a more convenient way to provide customers with a results-based payment plan. Since these companies rely solely on their ability to deliver customers to businesses, they must take digital marketing incredibly seriously and potentially employ hundreds of employees to produce and promote content.
When they enter a market, all of their advertising drives your business out completely. You lose exposure that you might have naturally received previously. This then creates a dependency on this customer source for your company and often costs you up to 30% of your sales price in the end.
If you haven’t already prioritized the digital experience and your own content, the chances that the customer will simply “use you directly” become increasingly difficult the customer cuts off.)
The other scenario is the new competitor who has to be digital first in order to establish itself in the market because it does not have the advantage of an established reputation. Your only choice is to be incredibly proactive with content production and digital marketing. This is scary because, most of the time, you don’t even realize they exist until they have already taken over the market.
This is exactly what happened when we helped a local roofing company take a digital-first approach to marketing. If they competed “traditionally” they had no chance of competing with established market leaders. But as they competed digitally, acted as content publishers, and made the internet their top priority, their size quadrupled (from $ 300,000 to $ 1.4 million) by the end of their first year. In the second year they opened locations in three new markets.
Additionally, the disruption was caused by a new company that had just two employees and had less than $ 30,000 in cash flow. That’s the incredibly terrifying power of internet and content-based marketing approaches.
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Business owners must now have the skills of publishers and operators
Our modern digital world brings with it a new problem that companies are simply not prepared for: They have to be media publishers, planners and designers. Skills like writing, speaking, and conversing are suddenly incredibly important must-haves. Those who improve these skills gain an undeniable advantage over those who do not.
The problem is that there is no formal business education or training that addresses this in the traditional sense. As a result, most business owners just don’t realize how critical this is to their success.
It is convenient to think of this as something that “applies to other businesses” or as an “optional” way to grow a business, since its implications are still underestimated by traditional thinking. But waiting until it becomes commonplace to take it seriously will only result in disaster.
The first step in solving the problem is to know the real cause of the problem. We are in a new age with massive disruptions of all sizes to traditional business processes. The most valuable skill you can develop to take advantage of the digital age is to translate your expertise into value-driven content and learn how to maximize the power of the internet.
World changing paradigm shifts are never convenient. There is no shortcut. It is a skill that takes a lot of time and practice to get good and master, with all the normal frustrations of learning a new skill. You can always spot someone who doesn’t take the time to learn the skill because they’ve already given up after not getting instant results. You’ll get a version of, “Well, it might work for other companies, but it won’t work for mine.”
In saying that you have to radically change your thinking because this group lives on borrowed time. Instead, adopt the mindset of carefully learning the craft of publishing and content creation. It will pay off massively in the future.
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