4 Content Lies SMBs Tell Themselves

Content gets hailed a “King” quite a bit, but that doesn’t mean business owners understand its true power or what “creating great content” really means in the year 2011. If content creation is an area that still makes you a little uneasy, it’s time to tackle it. Because on the Web, your content is your brand. And it’s up to you to build a great one.

To help you do that, here are four content myths SMBs often tell themselves and how you can rise above them.

1. They have to write big, or not at all: Mention the world “blog” to a small business owner and it’s not uncommon to see a sudden look of panic cross their face. It’s because while you’re talking about all the cool things they’ll be able to do with their blog, they’re already panicking about how much time it’s going to take to create all that content. It’s the same look of panic I see when I mention things like Twitter or Facebook.

But if social media has taught us anything it’s the power of micro-content. That’s those short updates (sometimes confined to just 140 characters on Twitter) that are designed to share a single thought, a link, a reference, an invitation, a video, a photo, etc. Not every piece of content you produce has to be a novel in length. The quality and frequency of the content you provide is far more important than just its length. There’s no reason to be intimidated by content.

2. Content is printed text: If content isn’t defined by length, it’s certainly not defined by medium, either. In today’s world, content is printed text, it’s a video, it’s a mashup, it’s a podcast, it’s an offer or promotion, and it’s anything else you want to make it. If you’re avoiding the blogging or social media world because writing isn’t your strong suit, you don’t have to wait a day longer to get involved. In today’s social economy you have permission to speak your thoughts, to sing them, or paint them or to get them out in any way that you see fit.

3. They’re not publishers: Are you using any combination of a website, a blog, social media or a wiki to market to your customers and build your business? Then congratulations – you’re a publisher. With that responsibility means now you have to start thinking like a publisher. It’s not enough to run your blog or your content marketing like it’s a hobby – you need to put an editorial calendar in place and plan out what you’re going to say, when and why you’re going to say it. Even if you don’t have a website and you’re running your business from your Facebook page (which you shouldn’t do, BTW), you’re responsible for generating your unique brand message, inspiring fans and sometimes gathering user-generated content. Once you accept that, you being to look at content not as simply something you publish, but as a way of attracting and retaining more clients.

4. The content doesn’t matter if the product is good: I hear this one a lot as an excuse for why many SMBs don’t have a solid content marketing strategy. Problem is, it’s just not true. It doesn’t matter how great your product or service is, if you can’t communicate that to your audience through your content, then you’re handicapping your ability to sell to them. Your content is what conveys your brand message, inspirea customers and differentiates you from everyone else. Take it seriously.

Those are some of the big content myths that get my blood boiling. What content mistakes do you see others making? What content fears are still buzzing around in your brain?


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

13 Reactions
  1. The Prudent Planner

    I completely agree with the first rule. Sometimes I get to a webpage and the first article is several pages long. I skim through it and quickly bounce to the next webpage. I really appreciate it when I find a quick, easy to understand website that doesn’t go on and on about the same topic. I’m sure there are those out there that really love to read and enjoy a good 5,000 word article but that’s certainly not me.

  2. My dad is a great example. He raises grass-fed beef and doesn’t have a lot of time, but since he lives and breathes the industry he has great insights. Often I will send him a link to an article I know would interest him and then he just posts his thoughts on the article. Thirty minutes tops.

  3. Content needs to be in context.

    I think this is the main failing of most all blogs (to varying degrees) in that they deviate from the subject matter and introduce other topics, eg shiny new objects that are in the news that week, and overlook that their readers have no interest.

    Keep it in context and you’ll get your readers to stick around longer!

  4. When I used to ghostwrite, in the beginning of the project, the expert would always freeze at the prospect of having to write even a paragraph alone. By the end of the project, he or she would turn over a whole chapter with a big smile. I love getting clients’ writing muscles toned. Writing is very empowering and cathartic, even if you are just writing about products and services. 🙂

  5. After all is said and done, nobody can deny the real value of an online copywriter. After all, copywriters aren’t just writers. They are salespeople too. It’s always a good idea to hire a copywriter that knows how to sell through words, if any small business owner values the power of content in their marketing plan.

    Real web copywriters know when to use 50 words as opposed to 5,000-word article.

  6. Lisa,

    I liked how you phrased the second point, that there is essentially more freedom to speak your mind. One caution is that in some industries, speaking your thoughts about one firm or another can be problematic – government contractors may not be appealing partners if they are blogging too much (plus I learned that in some cases, you may be giving away too much to competitors by mentioning successes – they now have an idea what to focus on). The point is that each person must weigh what their industry can tolerate social-media-wise. Then again, I am being outspoken here, which is probably supporting your point! 😉

    Great post! Thanks for reading.

  7. Martin Lindeskog


    Thanks for giving me good arguments for future discussions with potential clients! 🙂

    Pierre: Lisa is working at Outspoken Media, so I guess that she is pretty outspoken with her views! 😉

  8. Robert Brady – You have the right idea. It’s not necessary to always create brand new, original content from scratch. Doing something similar to what your Dad does can add real value to a conversation, even if you disagree – as long as you explain and justify your position.

    I use Google Alerts extensively to see what is being written in my niches.

  9. Yes, yes, yes to #1! This is definitely one of the biggest roadblocks I have come across. So much of the information that you can find online is geared towards professional bloggers, and as a small business owner, you can ignore alot of that stuff. It doesn’t have to be epic, it doesn’t have to be long, it just has to be about your business and support your goals.

    Another content mistake that I see so often (I actually just wrote about it this week) is not injecting personality into your content and trying to come across as professional. Don’t we all know how jargon-ey and yawn worthy the results of that can be. Down with the robot voice 🙂

  10. Really really enjoyed the point about micro-content. Getting a client to realize that an active blog doesn’t mean 5 2500 word posts per week is important. It intimidates some people.