Early in this series on content auditing, I mentioned that a market shift is a good reason to reevaluate site content. There are two different ways the market can shift for a small business or nonprofit. First, your organization can change. From staff, to core areas of focus, to services offered, small businesses and nonprofits change all the time. And that’s great! The world is a changing place and we must adapt. However, we need to keep people up to speed with why and how we are changing. When your organization changes, you are in a changed market. On the other hand, new methods, ideas or technologies can show up in the communities we serve that are not under our control. In these situations, we need to let our audience know how and why we are still relevant to them. This post will offer the basic steps to auditing content when your market changes.
When you Change your Market
When you change your organization, your market changes too- not because you changed the customers or audience you already have, but because you are reaching toward them for a new reason, in a new way.
By night, I fight word crime here on the streets of Evermore. By day I’m a mild-mannered software company employee. My company has changed a ton in the months that I’ve been there. When I started, we offered one tool. This tool has several competitors in the market, but ours is valuable to our clients because of the simplicity built into the design. Many different users could run our software, even if they had never used our competitors before. We were proud of simplicity, and we made it a selling point.
Recently we began to offer a second tool. While this tool is completely unique to the market with no true competitors, it still fits within our original selling point: simplicity.
However, with this change, we had a new story to tell. Our original story was that we had learned from our competitors and built a simpler product. We helped people make decisions efficiently, with no excess features getting in the way. We had to make sure simplicity stayed a part of our message even as we added features.
So as we’ve begun to connect our two tools, we focus on the simplicity that we started with. Rather than come up with a new message, we’ve focused on how our new tool goes further to simplify processes for our users. Technically, we’ve complicated our original software a bit by adding new features. In the end, our new software automates processes that used to be 100% manual.
By keeping the focus on the story we had already been telling, we’re able to reuse content that our customers have already found valuable. We’ve made it easy for our customers to follow and understand our growth. If we weren’t careful and deliberate about using our existing message, our customers might think we are becoming the clunky old software we once competed with.
When your Market Changes you
In addition to the changes we made ourselves, a sweeping new technology showed up in our industry. In some ways, it threatened to replace us, in other ways it was a perfect example of why people needed us. And our content is what made the difference to our customers.
The new technology promised to make businesses more productive online. It turns out the things the new technology does what our software had already been warning people to fix. The difference was that our software allowed you total control of your business, while the new technology took that control away. You had to abide by the new technology’s rules. But with us, you could pick which rules were best for you.
Again, simplicity reigned in our messaging and we went back to stuff we already had. First, we were able to pull up older content to show we have always been warning people about the problems the new technology fixes. We were able to show our customers that we had been thinking ahead all along. Second, we focused on how we were still a simpler solution. No, we can’t do everything the new technology can, but we can help you to decide what is best for your business. Rather than force you to follow new rules, and come up with a new strategy, our software was simple enough to let our users use their judgment.
For your business, one of the most powerful things you can do when your market changes against your will is prove that you saw it coming. If you have an old content that predicts the future you find yourself in, please reuse it! Beyond that, turn to your old content as a way of reaffirming the value you have always provided. Your history of giving unique value to your audience establish you as a trustworthy voice in a changing world.
Your market changes when you change your offering, or when something external enters your space. In both cases, you need to position your company in this new space in a way that connects to your history. Using audited content, find the thread that ties the old you and the new you. Focus on telling the same story you’ve always told, but with new characters.
And as always, have fun.