When trying to put together a content strategy that benefits small businesses, we were told by experts over and over again that we should be thinking of our clients–in our case, businesses–and not ourselves. We should be building our plan around what people are searching for, not necessarily what we offer as a business. While the point is valid for a myriad of reasons, I feel it is reductionist and shortsighted.

Striving to be all things to our clients and potential clients (a rather herculean endeavor) could lead to articles like “How to Feng Shui Your Office” nestled in between “How to Build a Better Business Plan” and “When to Upgrade Your Project Management Software.” The fact of the matter is that we, Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp., specialize in business credit and credibility. Because of this, we know how to help business owners understand how to better position themselves to access capital, land a sweet supplier contract, protect their business from fraud, and establish credibility in their space.

What we cannot do is tell you how to Feng Shui your office effectively. Office Depot would probably do a better job, and is a more logical home for that type of content due to their expertise in office furniture; even then, they’d probably have to tap their employee base or outsource for a Chinese philosophy expert. The less extreme examples–“How to Build a Better Business Plan” and “When to Upgrade Your Project Management Software”–are things we could definitely write about. We have plenty of folks in our organization who have crafted business plans and shopped for project management software (my advice is upgrade or change it when most of your effort involves forcing people to use it – that’s a clear sign it’s no longer efficient). However, if we’re not telling you why business credit should be part of your business plan, or how it will help you negotiate your terms with your project management software provider, we’re doing both of us a disservice.

You see, we’re experts in a couple of very important and useful areas that affect business growth and opportunity. We create products that help business owners manage very specific parts of their businesses, parts that can be integral to a business’s success. If we don’t tell you about them, if we don’t write about what we know so much about, and instead compete for page views with Chinese philosophy experts and the like, we leave a hole in the web. I believe it is absolutely important to think of your clients and what they are looking for…in the context of who you are and what you know. You do this not because you want sales, but because you truly believe that the information you have and the products you’ve created will make a difference in their world. If you’re not doing that, then you are being selfish and trying to game the system by luring people to your content under the pretense that you know what you’re talking about. If you don’t know what you’re an expert in, if you don’t believe in your product and know how it can benefit your clients, then you should probably reexamine your business plan…I think there’s an article somewhere for that.

Photo credit: Lotus Carroll, Flickr