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Episode 08: Content Audits for SMEs

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In this episode of The SME Growth Podcast, Dave Parry and Richard Buckle discuss the importance of SMEs completing a content audit. Covering the basics of what a content audit is, how a business can conduct one and processes a SME can put in place to make a content audit easier. Most importantly, they discuss the benefits of a content audit for an SME and how this can help and improve a business' content strategy and marketing strategy.

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Please note: Whilst all transcripts are double checked for accuracy, they are transcribed via Otter.AI so may contain errors.

David Parry 02:02

So hello, you're listening to Dave Perry from Wellmeadow and you're listening to The SME Growth Podcast, all businesses want to grow and we're here to discuss various options for coming up with new leads, and converting them to customers. And today with me, I've got Richard Buckle, hi Rich. 

Richard Buckle 02:31

Hello.

David Parry 02:32

And continuing our journey of talking about all the different aspects around their sort of marketing and how you think about it the philosophies. Today we're talking about a content audit, which is just the very term is enough to strike fear in people, isn't it? I don't want another audit. No. So what's a content audit?

Richard Buckle 02:50

Well, it's not as painful as a financial audit, or a quality audit. So a content audit is a is a good thing to do if you're thinking about. Well, it's good thing to do anyway. But it's particularly good thing to do if you're thinking about maybe putting a little bit more focus into your marketing efforts. A lot of people, a lot of businesses have way more content around them than they actually maybe think.

David Parry 03:22

If you've done one before, it can be quite a positive experience. Once you start digging stuff up it's like buried treasure.

Richard Buckle 03:29

And I think it's a it's a way of starting to maybe structure your marketing a little bit differently, thinking about it more as a process.

David Parry 03:36

A good first step, isn't it? 

Richard Buckle 03:38

And just getting a kind of a map of where where are we with?

David Parry 03:42

I think it's, it can be that positive for the whole team, it can be quite positive. Because if you ask most companies, what marketing stuff, what content have we got? They're probably pointing to the website, gonna show you a couple of pages. They might even have some printed stuff from the old days when we used to print stuff, maybe? And they'd probably maybe stop at that. I don't know, I don't know how much people would instinctively think, you know, where would you go to to look for stuff, and they are the obvious start points. But as we're about to explain, there's so many more, there are lots of places.

Richard Buckle 04:15

Yeah, there's loads of different places to look for content. And I think it's, it is a whole company thing that is not just restricted to the marketing department who've got the content. Now, you'd hope that the marketing department is organising their content, and I suppose this is another kind of maybe slight tangent on this, but actually having your content organised. I mean, that's slightly different to an audit, which is looking at what are we actually got, but content organisation is another subject.

David Parry 04:48

I think it's the wrong word is the wrong name for it, isn't it? content audit does sound like a checking thing. It's for more content stocktake or someting, what have we got? And as you say, the endpoint should be that the marketing department does have awareness of everything that the company has got that it could even if it doesn't use in its marketing efforts, but often at the start, they don't have, it's all in silos and hidden away and in people's heads and drawers and all sorts of things. So, so doing this content stocktake, let's call it, whatever, we need to pull all that into one place, and then get the habits formed.

Richard Buckle 05:18

Yeah, and we've seen it in a number of clients. And I suppose we've been guilty of it ourselves sometimes, you create a piece of content and you save it in a folder that's labelled that something that you understand, but that no one else is going to find? And then you're looking for a particular image, or you're looking for a particular infographic or something that you've made, video or whatever, and no one can find it. But you know, you've made it somewhere. So I think part of this process is think about well, how do we actually organise our content in the media content like organisation is part of it is there's a way that we can all access information when we need it. 

David Parry 05:56

So what we're, what we're describing here really is a combination of the researcher skills to find it in the first place. And that may include a bit of journalistic skills to draw it out. But then a really strong organisation thing a bit like a curator in a museum or a library, and you've got to, you've got to be quite strict about how we record it and where, so everybody can use it. 

Richard Buckle 06:16

And I think that's possibly if you look at, again, sort of another tangent of like personality types in your on your team, a lot of marketing people will be more creative, just want to make the next post or video and do all of that. And then it's always that new idea. Let's move on to the next thing. Let's do the next thing. And you end up with this, if you're not careful this week of material behind you, where you're trying to kind of then find everything. So having someone who can almost act as that sweeper, and organise all of that content, so that you know, when we need this video that we're looking for two years down the line, oh, yeah, we did that. That's where it is, we've got it, we're not wasting time. Or not even, you know, or you're just making the use of your content all the time to be able to repurpose it. So that's kind of where we're, we're coming at this from

David Parry 07:06

Okay, well, let's, let's have a little run around then a little bit of brainstorm of where you would look for stuff. And we're kind of given away a clue for the first and most obvious place, which is your current website, what have you got the website? What downloads have you got? What pages have you got, where you're expressing some expert content? I guess we shouldn't forget, if you still got access to it as well, any previous websites, because quite often, when a website gets updated, hopefully every few years or so, some content doesn't make it through, it might still have been valuable, but just didn't get updated at the time or whatever. So, website, past and present is probably a good place to start.

Richard Buckle 07:41

Absolutely. And I think then, you know, going back through there's content all over the place, it's just thinking about how you know, where is it? So you've got all like always, obviously, marketing collateral that you've got brochures, videos, podcasts may be that, you know, and again, it's about so what have we got them? Are they organised but there's also things like what's, what content is maybe in people's heads, that that hasn't been unlocked? As it were, there'll be an awful lot of information around that. That maybe you put bits of it into emails that you send out, that's actually a little bit of content, but it's not being used. 

David Parry 08:25

You know what, if you went to a lot of sales departments, I bet you they've got standard snippety type stuff they send out, you know, classic, this is how to describe this product, which may have not come from the marketing department, and there's a bit of a silo or not invented here thing, you've got to get all that in as well. Or just listen in on some salespeople calls it there's some real diamond stuff, some gold dust in there, you just sit in the sales office one day and hear somebody explaining a product as a marketer. You think Well, that's sort of related to what I used to say, or we've talked about, but I've never heard it put that way before or use that metaphor or that example.

Richard Buckle 08:58

Or that, what presentations they're sending out. And we know this is a you know, you get into this bag should everyone be able to send their own presentations, and oftentimes sales teams will want to do their own thing, but and it may well be that you want to standardise that but actually there's a lot of content in people's presentations that can be pulled into something.

David Parry 09:18

And look at what else not just on the web, but what else have every member of your company. What else have they put out online somewhere in their own way? Not on the website? Yeah. So bet their own LinkedIn posts talk about stuff or maybe they've shared other people's which should immediately trigger you, you know, that's a story we could tell that we're not selling very well. Have they put their own stuff out on SlideShare. You talked about presentations, these, these things are being used out there or Canva if people use that on their own YouTube stuff. So it's not just our own website where we put things out. It's other online stuff, but also the presentations that the slide decks that we use in our normal conversations or the metaphors you hear on telephone. 

Richard Buckle 09:57

And it could even be that there's, you know, maybe they've done an interview Someone so you've gotten, you know, third party content that you've your company has been involved in. So they've either been on a, someone's YouTube channel, or they've done something for an industry body somewhere, or it's finding all of those touch points that that your organisation's got. And then thinking, Okay, well, like how, what was the response to this? How did it work? What are we got available are sort of disposal to use somewhere else.

David Parry 10:26

And if you've got a very well developed sales team, and you're I know, you're all going to be sitting there thinking now, I wonder if mine is, if you've got a well developed sales team, you might have things like playbooks and battle cards and that sort of thing. So it's, it's what the professional sales seems, especially when there's more than one or two in the team will have developed, it's a way of embodying that corporate knowledge. But a playbook will be guiding the salesperson through a certain number of steps and point them to certain slide decks at the right time and different methods as they go through the qualification processes. And the battle cards is another one, which everyone's maybe heard of Top Trumps where you've got the comparison of whether it be their you know, the cars, or the aircraft or whatever, and you're trying to play Who's wins on this damage. That's what battle cards are for the, for the sales team, and they've got different competitors, how they perform on it. So here's the product, how do the competitors prefer well this, this card is better than that. So you need a battle card to say if a customer comes up with this requirement, this is how we win on that we focus on these features and benefits, because that's where we beat the competitors. Whereas if they're going for this product, then it'll be these features and benefits focus on because we're not so strong on these other ones. Yeah, that's what battle cards are about. Now, often, they're a preserve of just the sales team. And that is, once again, is gold dust for the marketing people. Because imagine if you could start embodying that into reviews, case studies, product comparisons, and put them on your website, then all of a sudden, you've got something that works 24/7 Rather than just when the salesman is in a conversation like that,

Richard Buckle 11:50

I think that's it again, that's an important point, draw it, isn't it that not? The content audit isn't just a marketing thing. It's about you know, what is that communication with the sales department like and, you know, sometimes there's some friction, but this is a great opportunity to actually bring all of that content together. So sales, meeting notes, like Battle cards, play books, all of that. There's so many that going through emails to customers, like prospects, there's so much material that can actually be drawn out of that and say, Well, what are what kind of, you know, what are the messages that we're saying? What is the content that we're sending out?

David Parry 12:23

And then somehow encapsulate that, ask the CEO for his or her elevator pitch, when they go to an industry event? Or they stand up in front of customers or exhibition, what do they say? And I'll be interesting to know whether that's always using the same language, case studies metaphors, you know, as, as the marketing messages currently are not that is, whether you like it or not, that's part of your company's marketing may not be coming our the marketing department but everybody's involved in marketing, right? Anyone that has impacts with potential customers 

Richard Buckle 12:51

And there's things like I suppose, customer feedback surveys, if you're getting those had they come in,

David Parry 12:57

We know that can have some real nuggets in it can't it

Richard Buckle 13:00

Or a more detailed thing, like a customer or client advisory boards. I mean, you've touched on some of those recently,

David Parry 13:05

Yeah, that's, that's really good work. And a number of our clients ask us to do this, where in our role as advising board meetings and the board representation we have, we're able to go to their customers, and offer the opportunity for them to give some feedback to us as an independent party. None of the client people are there, or done online these days. But we used to do them in hotel rooms, structure set of questions. And it's amazing how you can solicit both really constructive feedback, which is more, you know, improvement, opportunity nature, but also loads of praises, as you can imagine, they'd still be customers if they didn't think something good of it. So you get all sorts of stuff out of that, which if only you could use that, well guess what you can you just asked that person permission, you can either even use the recording or the text of what they've done, or use it to form a story which you then go on and write about or, or incorporating some presentation. 

Richard Buckle 13:55

I think I think like as well that the content audit or organisation or whatever you wanna call it, the content stocktake is part of that whole larger content strategy? I think you're thinking about strategy. One of the things is that that initial kind of diagnosis of what's going on around here, but that real kind of like honest appraisal of what's happening. So even if you're thinking listening to this and thinking, Well, we haven't got any of those things. We're not doing any of those things. That's absolutely fine. Because you've got to start somewhere and starting with an honest appraisal of what content you've got around you is the best place to start

David Parry 14:33

Just start looking it's you know, seeking to find depths. And you mentioned for example, customers let's not forget suppliers. Yeah, they may have things about our company and we can incorporate that. But all those things we've talked about there are positives that you can go find you go look for it and find it. I'm interested as well in that what's missing element because there's loads of stuff that we might be able to go and you just go away, grab it and put it in the file. But we could also use this as almost a to do list of content that we need to create that we don't have at the moment. But everybody agrees, wouldn't it be nice if we had that. We've just talked about battle cards, for example, or elevator pitches or reviews, you know, if we don't have those, but those in your to do list, but you may already have them. But What haven't you got? Or the best way of trying to find some of that out is maybe go on to your competitor websites? Well, they got some interesting downloads, product comparisons, reviews, videos, and you're sitting there thinking, I wish we had that for our company,

Richard Buckle 15:25

We did an interesting thing with a client looking at this type of thing with LinkedIn. So this is a great way, we broadened out to other social channels, but LinkedIn was quite a good one to say, Well, okay, first identify who your competitors are, let's put those out there, write down now go through their LinkedIn content. And we did this in two ways. One was to actually look at it as a like, what type of content? Is it so that we categorised into four? Which was one was is it a thought leadership piece of content they put out? Is it a company news like an apprentice scheme or something like that? Is it just something technical about a particular product or service or delivery, I think there's one other bit escapes me. So we had those categories. So as we were going through and looking at the types of content that people had, and that we were producing as well. And also the competitors, were able to kind of categorise it and say, Well, we know that Competitor A seems to be doing a lot more company type of news versus Competitor B is doing a lot more thought leadership piece.

David Parry 16:25

And let me guess there was a lot more company news stuff?

Richard Buckle 16:28

There was a lot more companies news

David Parry 16:29

People that have got religion with inbound marketing, that tends to be what it is.

Richard Buckle 16:32

So so that was quite a useful piece of information to have and be able to feedback and say, well, actually, it looks like, you know, not only are we looking at things like well, how many followers people got, what's their reach, and all that, but what type of content are people putting out, and then we used a screen grabbing bit of software that manages to grab the whole kind of feed, to I can't remember the name of that, but you can get it on a Google Chrome extension. But that then enabled us to be able to present back and look at not only kind of so what content they got. But what does it look like? So are they framing their content in a certain way? Are they using a particular brand style? Or? Is it just people taking photos of things with an iPhone? Is it more professionally produced? Is it video? So it was you're able to get a really good picture of the landscape of what is everyone else doing in terms of content?

David Parry 17:27

You don't have to follow them. It's great to know if you're not going to do the same that you're making a decision not to because it doesn't suit your style, or your messaging or whatever. But you're not alone. You know, other people are trying to do this as well. And it's good anyway to do a benchmark and find out whereas everybody else in this maybe already ahead and you want to get further ahead. And another one great for finding out gaps is do some research, keyword research, search term research is plenty of products out there, you know, we use one ourselves, which will show you where the traffic is, and whether you're doing well against those keywords or where the competitors are, you're come up with loads of examples of gaps that you just don't have content on, and maybe hasn't come up in your earlier stock takeaway, whatever we are calling it, fishing around and I didn't realise people were looking for that. 

Richard Buckle 18:11

Or even start typing something into a Google search bar. And it's gonna give you all those suggestions underneath as to what auto completes the question or other things that people have searched for that could give you content ideas to say, Well, alright, okay, well, our product is this and it looks like people are searching for this particular perspective on it, or angle on it or whatever. And okay, we haven't got any content on that. Let's make a note of it.

David Parry 18:35

Coming back to the reference to that book we talked about before the They Asked You Answer the Marcus Sheridan book, he talks about getting together and having a brainstorm session, just come up with what are the 100 questions that customers ask us? Well, they want to know, right, from what does it cost to how long is it going to take to what the quality problems, you know, and it's very quick, actually, to come up with the questions. It takes a lot longer to come up with content to answer those questions. But that's what you're there for. That's what the marketing department has got to do educate, provide answers to all those questions.

Richard Buckle 19:05

And you could expand that and say not just what are the questions. And I remember having this discussion with someone recently, around what are the common objections that you get? So if you come up with, you know, these are the top 10 objections we get when we come up against, you know, people that don't want to buy from us? Okay, well, how do we now produce that content? Or what content have we got around us that would address those objections? Before we even get to that? You know, because because you could engineer the process to say, well, you know, create a piece of content or find the content around you that addresses those objections, you could send that ahead of the sales meeting, you could have it to hand you could you know, all of those things. So it's about thinking about what are the questions? What are the objections? How do we map that then to content that we've got? Or if we haven't got it? What's our plan to make it?

David Parry 19:49

Yeah, so what do we do with all this time we've done our stock, take audit, whatever you want to call it. We've got a list of both content that we've got that we didn't even realise we had now we've asked for it. And another list of things that we wish we had, we don't really have or isn't well enough formed. There's no point just putting it into a list, right? We're not just being the company library here, or archivist, are we this? We're going to use it for something. Yeah. And it's not just putting it in a database somewhere in a folder structure. So clearly one bit that comes from that, is that to do lists based on how you've prioritised it of new content to create,

Richard Buckle 20:20

yeah, so that's back to the whole, you know, the content stocktake as it were being part of the larger content strategy. So okay, what have we got? Is it fit for purpose? Is it does it align with where we want to take the messaging of the company? And then is it you know, marketing's changing, so you've got things like the TikTokification of a lot of content now. Does our content fit new media channels? Is it all, you know, we might go through it and say, well, all of our content seems to be written words and brochures and things will do we need to do something more.

David Parry 20:59

Why even yesterday, were we not looking at a video which is filmed in landscape 16 x 9 classic use for for one of these podcasts, you'll see that sort of thing. But actually, if you want to put that on Reels or on TicTok, you need something more portrait format, ie, you've got to crop the image. So you can repurpose the same thing, but just to suit different channels.

Richard Buckle 21:16

So then you're looking at okay, well, what do we do? So if it's a case where we need to create different type of content? Or maybe it's the same message of the content, but in a different format? So video podcasts? What how do we go about doing that? What's the level of investment you're gonna make? Do we just use a iPhone to record a video? Or do we invest in some more expensive kit? Or do we outsource it or all of that is going to form like, once you've got the lay of the land in terms of what content you've got available? You're able to do that kind of gap analysis, once you've worked out? What kind of content do we want?

David Parry 21:53

Now this can sound quite scary, or maybe this the permanent state, the marketing people are in so much to do. And this time, there's only one of me or a small team of me. But be reassured that having done this stocktake some things will crop up out of that which have really quick wins. So there may be some old content that happens to have done quite well. Maybe you'll find an old post somewhere blog post, it's got a bit of traffic on it, or a search term, it's done quite well. But you've got some content for you can rejuvenate that by just reissuing that piece of material that blog post or reword it slightly updated, freshen up, maybe change the references, certainly update it. And then suddenly, for very little effort, you've managed to give everything a bit of a dust off, but spring clean, and it's suddenly seen by the search engines as being something a bit more bit more current.

Richard Buckle 22:39

So that's into the whole area of looking at content leveraging as well, and just saying, Well, can we create something like, you might think some of this can sound like this is this is a lot of ask, particularly if there's, you know, one or two people in a marketing department. And let's like, not many SMEs have got huge marketing departments. Often times, it might be one person trying to wear multiple hats across things. But you know, if we can leverage the content creation process, then we can say, well, maybe from one video that we do with, you know, sit down with a salesperson or technical expert in the business, come up with a list of 10 questions, ask them those 10 questions, you've got 10, you know, maybe two to three minute videos, they're out of each one of those, you can maybe get two or three shorts, and maybe a blog posts for each video, when you know, five or six social posts off each one, all of a sudden, you've got yourself like 100 different bits of content. From one, though, it doesn't have to be a huge, scary process.

David Parry 23:41

And we've got countless examples of exactly that. Yeah, we've started life doing a video is often a good way of capturing it, not that you have to use the video, as you say, I could just use an iPhone on a very chunky tripod and capture, almost like recording an interview with someone talk to a subject matter expert, and then just turn that into all written content, you don't have to use it. But if you think about it carefully, then you can use the video as well. So it's great example of how to get more bang for your buck.

Richard Buckle 24:05

And so yeah, so you can actually take you know, let's say you can take existing content that you find as part of the stocktake. And, you know, push that out on new channels. So all of a sudden, so, but all of this is about setting it in that larger kind of what is your content strategy? So this bit is about, you know, what have we got available to us? What do we want? How are we going to, you know, bridge the gap as it were. But all of this is, you know, there's a great quote by Aristotle that I've used for years around you know, what we must learn to do, we must learn by doing, you've just got to do it.

David Parry 24:40

That's how I feel in life. 

Richard Buckle 24:44

I think is that often when it comes to content, I mean, it's again, it's another tangent. A lot of people find either don't feel like they've got anything of value to say, because they under you know, the underplay

David Parry 24:56

They're too modest

Richard Buckle 24:58

Or they just don't want to sit in front of a camera. But you're never gonna get, there's very few people who are comfortable in front of a camera or doing a podcast straight off the bat. Yeah, most people are going to warm up to it. And you just got to think the first couple that you're going to do are probably not going to be your best work. 

David Parry 25:11

Remember, the first time you gave a presentation, even in front of five colleagues, you know, if you're in your early career, you're probably not very good at it may be, but after you've done a couple of dozen of them, it's like falling off a log. So you just got to get those first few out of the way. 

Richard Buckle 25:22

And I think even if it's like, just take an iPhone, record a bit of content and just speak to camera, and then the first couple you're going to do we're going to be rubbish, and then delete them, no one has to see it. But after a while you learn your pattern, you learn how to do it, you stop saying the urms and aaahs and that, you know, probably watch this back now and go, Oh, my goodness, he said urm aaah. No, we always learn, I think we had someone come in and do some coaching once on them, public speaking didn't we? And it's like, don't ever use the word "So" and I've been scarred every since and say you know, so we're gonna do that. So I'm gonna do this. But yeah, you've just got to, you've just got to practice and do it.

David Parry 25:59

Yeah, create that content, use the stocktake, or audit or whatever to work out what you've already got, you can make easy, more wins out of and what you what you need to fill in the gaps for. Just want to close out as well. In researching a little bit for this podcast, you come up with the concept of content audit software. I've never heard it called that before. But the examples that come up with we've heard of, you know, SEMRush is an example that we use, is it worth spending a lot of money to do your content on audit on software, I would say all the stuff we've talked about doesn't need software, that's a paper and a pen, always go around and ask people

Richard Buckle 26:32

Just a spreadsheet

David Parry 26:34

Put it on something you're used to. That doesn't mean that these other softwares aren't also useful for doing other things. But they're very web based aren't they, which pages are doing well on which keywords and competitors, which is a part of it. But I think our message today is that there's so much more to it than that. Don't rely on that on its own. Just go and ask people and write down a long list for everybody's knowledge.

Richard Buckle 26:54

Yeah, and I think it's, you know, start with the end in mind, don't just do a content audit or stocktake for the sake of doing it. You're doing it so that you can then build from that to create new content, or reuse the content you've already got. So all of this is around is really is the baseline really of your content creation strategy, because you've got to start from somewhere. So don't just do it for the sake of doing it, do it so that you can then start creating other great content, use what you've got around you. And also it's a great way of involving other people outside of the marketing department in the marketing content creation effort.

David Parry 27:35

That's got to be good if you work in marketing, you get a bit more awareness of the work that's going on nearby and everybody involved.

Richard Buckle 27:41

Absolutely.

David Parry 27:42

Well I think we've given that a pretty good round tour de force there on content audits slash content stocktakes. So you've been listening to The SME Growth Podcast. Thank you very much for listening. Please subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and more importantly, tell all of your business friends that we're here and it's worth a listen. Next week, our podcast subject is on goals and not just the usual goals that we're all used to in business, but in particular, how it relates to setting out your priorities in the marketing efforts that you do. So see you next week.

Further resources

We have a free content audit check list sheet ready to download here.

Wellmeadow Content Audit Checklist