Let’s skip the small talk: I could talk until I’m blue in the face about the intrinsic value of business blogging, but you’d likely tune me out like every other self-anointed know-it-all out there spouting non-essential strategic advice. But I’m not here to talk about “intrinsic value.” I’m here to talk about making money. And in today’s business environment, making money is about creating good, relevant content.
Content is king, and the king gets the gold. So let me tell you how to be the king.
Producing quality content does two basic kinds of work for your business. First, it tells the entire world (and by “the world” I mean your current and prospective clients) why they should do business with you and not somebody else. Second, it silences—or at least significantly muzzles—negative search chatter about your company. These two benefits are bound together in a symbiotic relationship: more clients mean more revenue, but it’s tough to secure new clients if the rest of the world is talking smack about your company.
So how do you generate useful, persuasive content about your business without quitting your day job? You do it like this, in 9 pretty easy steps.
If you read, write.
Information is all around you. You consume it every day. You’re consuming it right now. The best part about received information is that somebody else has already done most of the heavy lifting for you. Smart business content is out there: on your desk, on your TV, on your computer. All you have to do is say something about it.
- In the next 30 days, find one article in a major publication like a newspaper (The Wall Street Journal) or a business magazine (The Economist) and write two simple paragraphs about what you’ve read. The U.S. Department of Labor says unemployment is going down? Not in my state, you say. Not among the segment of the population from whom I’m trying to collect. There’s your content.
- In the next month, jot down your perspective on a piece you’ve read published by an ARM industry website (like insideARM.com) or about something you picked up from an Association bulletin (ACA International, DBA International, or NARCA). Cite (and provide a link to) your source and make one salient point. State AG shuts down another sham collection agency? Explain why illegal collection outfits aren’t legitimate collection operations at all (and above board agencies shouldn’t be lumped in with crooks). There’s your content.
- In the next few weeks, scan the discussion sections of LinkedIn groups to which you belong. Find a conversation that you think is compelling, sit at your desk and bang out 500 words that express your point of view on the topic. Can collection representatives work effectively from home? Yes, my company allows telecommuting and it works for us. Or no way, no how, no where. There’s your content.
If you do, write.
Is your company philanthropic? If it’s not, it should be. First, it’s the right thing to do (it really is). Second, it will pay dividends—financial and otherwise—in the long run. Third, it’s an unassailable source of positive content about your company.
- Set up a food, or clothing, or military care package drive at your company in the second quarter this year. Donate what you collect. Write a press release about the drive. There’s your content.
- Organize a volunteer effort among your employees or your executive team at a local elementary school, nursing home, or women’s shelter. Set a goal to donate a X amount of total time across Y employees. Write a press release about what you did—better yet, have an employee who liked the experience share his or her thoughts. There’s your content.
- Write (a check). You determine the amount, but write a check to a charitable organization and donate that money. Write a press release about your contribution. There’s your content.
If you work, write.
The best source of revenue-generating content is right in front of you. It’s the work you do every day. It’s your business, your services, your compliance standards, your employees. The key to earning more gold is to leverage the wealth you’ve already got. Business success doesn’t come from a winning lottery ticket. It’s not luck. It’s hard work. Greater business success comes from hard work (and a little bit of writing).
- Has your company increased staffing this year? Do you plan to increase FTE in the coming quarter. Write about it. It tells the world (and remember what I said: the world means your current and prospective clients) that your business is growing and you are positioned to take on more work. And it tells the rest of the world that you’ve contributed to your local community—and to the national economy—by adding jobs to the labor force. There’s your content.
- Have you recently brought on a new manager or executive? I assume this person adds skills and experience to your company or you wouldn’t have hired him or her. It’s logical then that this person, by extension, adds value to the clients you represent—or those you hope to represent in the future. Write about him or her. In service businesses, people are your greatest asset. Don’t hide their light under a bushel. There’s your content.
- Do you provide services to your clients? Of course you do. But so do your competitors. What differentiates your company’s services from those offered by your competition across the state or around the country? If you can’t articulate this concept in a paragraph or two, how can your sales team possibly hope to win you market more share? Write about what you do—not about what every other company like yours does, what YOU do. There’s your content.
In case you missed it, I just mapped out a 9-month content plan for your company (assuming you just write one measly thing a month). It’s a plan that could apply to pretty much any business, but it’s one that will become distinctive because you get to shape the content from source material that’s all around you.
Of course, you don’t have to take my advice. I’ll even grant that there’s still room for debate in that dusty old cliché about the existence of sound when a tree falls in the forest. But ask yourself: can your company afford not to hedge its bet?
And how to best hedge your bet? Spread more gold. And how do you get the gold? Be the king. And how do you get to be the king?
Through content. Content is king.