“I write to find out what I am writing about.”
— Henry Miller
One question that comes up often when I speak to businesspeople about E-Newsletters is, “How important is it for us to write original content?” I’ve been fielding this particular question long enough to know that what’s really being asked is, “Can we just get somebody else to write this for us?”
Much to the disappointment of the questioners, my answer has always been a resounding, “No!”
Well today, I’m happy to report that although my answer hasn’t changed, the case for writing original, company specific content has grown even stronger.
You see up until this point, my argument for original content was always made strictly from the perspective of improving the quality and strength of the connection between your company, and your customers or potential customers:
“When you write it, readers get a genuine sense of your company culture and a feel for what it’s like to do business with you. They begin to feel that they can trust you, and people hire people they trust.”
“When you write it, readers come to view you as a thought leader in your industry. People like to hire experts.”
“When you write it, readers get a sense for where you stand on important issues in your industry. This has the dual benefit of driving away those who don’t like the way you think and attracting those who do.”
All true, and very powerful, but as I’ve recently realized, only part of the story. There are (at least) three other benefits to writing your own content that will also have a significant impact on the success of your business.
By writing your own content. . .
• You’ll become aware of what you know. Just as Henry Miller suggests in the quote up above, the act of writing helps you get clear on your own thoughts and beliefs. It’s one thing to have a bunch of ideas running around in your head. Writing them down so that others can read them however, requires organizing them into succinct and understandable nuggets.
Even if you never sent your newsletter out to the world (not that I am suggesting this), the clarity that writing brings, is by itself worth the effort.
• Your employees will learn about your business. I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you, but nobody reads that mission statement you’ve got posted next to the coffee pot. In fact, I’m willing to bet that if you grabbed the next 5 people who walk by your office and asked them individually to describe what it is that makes your company great, or different, or vulnerable, that you’d get dozens of different answers. Your vision is not clear inside your own company.
When your staff reads your newsletter month after month however (you are sending it to all of them aren’t you?), they will learn as much about your business and your view of it as will the outside world. Not only will this help your company present a more consistent face to the universe, it will also ensure that everybody is pulling in the same direction, since they’ll learn — from you — what matters and what doesn’t.
• Your colleagues will finally understand what you do. How many times has a business associate “blind copied” you on an email to a possible referral, and in the process completely misrepresented whatever it is your company does?!If your friends and colleagues don’t have a clear picture of your business, they can’t efficiently send more your way.
As they read your newsletter month after month however, they — just like your prospective clients — will learn about your business. In terms of generating incremental revenue, I’ve found that it’s as effective to educate this group as it is potential customers. If your friends, association co-members, colleagues, and other friendly non-buyers of your service understand what you do, they will act as a mini-sales force, sending new business your way over and over and over again.
Bottom Line:The bad news is that if you want your E-Newsletter to have a significant positive impact on your business, you can’t get out of doing your own content. The good news however, is that providing home grown E-Newsletter content that is useful, interesting and relevant to your target audience, is the single most effective step you can take towards creating a self sustaining, ever growing, sales and lead generating machine for your business. (Now wouldn’t you like to have one of those around the office?!).