Increasing your web traffic ultimately comes down to great content. Generally, the more great content you post, the more traffic will result. But one concern you may have is how to avoid helping competitors with content strategy you develop with your own budget. I get it. Before I started my own content strategy, I had the same concerns. Then I realized those concerns were unfounded.
How to avoid helping competitors in content strategy
On the surface, the concern makes sense. You don’t want to give away trade secrets and the secret sauce that sets you apart. You want to protect every competitive edge you have, but consider the alternative: if you don’t develop a content strategy, you will completely lose out on search engine traffic.
It’s like a star soccer player saying they won’t play because that would allow the other team to learn their moves. If that’s you, consider how ridiculous it would be to sit on the bench. You’d guarantee a loss.
But what if you give away your secret sauce in your content strategy? I love the quote from Howard Aiken. “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” He’s right. Piles and piles of research confirm people suck at identifying the best idea even when it’s presented to them on a silver platter.
I understand IP needs to be protected, but IP exceptions often become the rule when it comes to content strategy (like compliance departments in banks). These are not serious content concerns, but an unwillingness to act. And if you don’t act, you’re done.
But… assuming this isn’t you, and your concerns about oversharing are legitimate, let’s continue.
Customer questions aren’t the same as competitor questions
Let me share an example. I put about 20+ miles a week on my running shoes. In the process, my current shoes weren’t cutting it. I ended up buying a pair of Brooks from Fleet Feet. I had questions about stride, impact, pronation, terrain, moisture, treadmills, and technique. I asked questions that I, the customer, cared about. But can you guess what questions I didn’t have? Their business practices or proprietary processes.
I didn’t care to know about their sales tactics. I didn’t care to ask about their process for matching me to the right shoe (they were really good at it). I didn’t care about how Brooks makes their shoes, their manufacturing processes, or their foam. I don’t care. I only care about my challenges. Your customers are the same.
You may be thinking your value is in your proprietary processes or technology, but the primary target of your content strategy – future customers – do not care. They care about the challenges they are facing right now. If you write about solving customer challenges, there’s absolutely no need to give away your secret sauce.
What would sales do?
One client was truly struggling with the idea of giving away too much information and I asked them “what would sales say if someone asked this.” They told me they’d just tell them the truth and answer the question. “Ok,” I said, “so a competitor only needs to call you and tell you they’re interested in your services and you’ll just give this information to them.” They got the point.
Sales will speak openly to customers, or even when invited will sit on a panel, but when it comes to writing it down, that’s when executives get concerned? It doesn’t add up.
If sales typically discuss proprietary information in their sales method, what are you really protecting? If your competitors can pose as a customer and easily get your information, you’re not really protecting anything, you’re just making excuses to avoid playing the content game.
Give it away or give up
The concern and desire to avoid helping competitors in content strategy of your creation is not a valid concern. Listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Bright Spot, I heard Ken Coleman explain his frustration that people turn to Google to solve their problems. “It’s the culture of convenience that technology has brought to us,” he said. He lamented how customers “can get a quick hit. And that’s all it is, it’s a hit…that never works.” He’s partially correct. Yes, there are bad resources out there, but instead of pulling back, he should engage where people are looking!
You know potential customers want that quick hit and are searching; therefore, you should engage where they feel most comfortable. That only happens if you engage with content and rank for those very search terms. In this way, your voice is what they encounter, and they can reach out to get help while already trusting you. Your customers aren’t stupid—if you produce great content, it’s attractive.
Content strategy flips the old sales process. It used to be a salesperson would engage a customer, then educate. Now they the education is why they engaged. My clients have discovered the more information they give out, the more customers reach out. Customers want to work with the companies and people who address their problems! They are going to pick the company that does that in advance—it’s simple.
The bottom line is this: your potential customers are Binging, Googling, and DuckDuckGoing their problems at this very second, whether you like it or not. According to SEM Rush, there are 40,000 Google searches per second. If your company has a superior message, are you going to take it to the people, or wait comfortably in your own church of thought? If you’re my competitor, I encourage you to wait patiently. I’m out here on the mission field.
Start your own content strategy
By far, the best content strategy is developed by using the notebook method. This method helps you create content your customers are searching for right now. To avoid helping competitors in content strategy, the best strategy is to simply answer customer questions. If you’d like to sharpen your skills, enter your first name and email address and I’ll send you tactics that work.