So what, exactly, is content?
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago … the next best time is today.
— Chinese Proverb
According to Wikipedia, content is defined as “something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing or any of various arts and can be delivered via many different media including the Internet, television, audio CDs, books, magazines, and live events, such as conferences and stage performances.”
In effect, content is anything that you say, write or otherwise offer to an audience that has some form of value.
And why is it important? For many reasons …
Ignore this new market behavior at your own risk — as you read this, a potential client is vetting you. Somewhere,
someone is trying to decide between you and your competition and they are doing research on both of you. Much the same as you are doing right now by reading this entry, the market is attempting to understand how you can help them with their need.
So ask yourself — what do they see?
- Do they see intelligence, competence, experience and narrative?
- Do they see samples of your work?
- Do they see case studies offering deep analysis and critical thinking?
Or do they see nothing? Or worse yet, bragging?
Helping the public to vet you and your skills is one of the single most important reasons to create content.
Much to our collective chagrin, the general public has absolutely no idea what we do.
Does the public really understand what an attorney does at closing or why estate planning matters? Or does the public really understand why the materials used on the exterior of a home make a huge difference in the life of the home? Or does the public really understand what the heck mortgage insurance actually does?
To really be able to command a premium for your work, you have to be able to demonstrate in no uncertain terms what you can do for your clients
Nope, not at all.
I recognize that statement is a blow to our egos, but it is true. The public does not know what they do not know.
Helping the public understand a complex or nuanced topic does not make you less valuable, it makes you more valuable — and even more importantly, differentiated from your competition.
What do you pay for a craftsman that you know has tremendous skill? And what do you pay for a craftsman that has little to no skill? And how can you tell the difference?
If you don’t help your clients understand what you do, they will assume that your skill level is far below what it actually is. Ask yourself this — How hard is it to become adequately compensated for the work you do if a client doesn’t recognize your capabilities, knowledge and experience? I can see you nodding.
Being able to provide a few cursory examples of past work does not do the trick. To really be able to command a premium for your work, you have to be able to demonstrate in no uncertain terms what you can do for your clients. A robust book of content, in whatever form, is critical to protecting your compensation.
Each of us, as business owners, need to continually add talent to our organization.
The truly talented individuals crave dynamic and fluid environments where they see thought leadership, consistent intellectual curiosity and opportunity for personal growth. When they see an organization that is not only leading the marketplace with its intellectual capital, but continuing to push the limits of their capabilities, they will find it a far more attractive environment than a stagnant or stoic organization.
Thought-provoking content generated by an organization sends a powerful message to potential teammates — we are the leader in our space and the opportunities we generate for our team will be greater and far more frequent than those generated by others.
The spoken word is valuable only in the moment it is spoken — but the captured word is valuable forever.
When you are able to capture your thoughts (in writing, on video or in audio form) you not only have empirical evidence that they are your thoughts, but you also have the rights to use them forever. When you send a potential client a blog post (or white paper, or narrative, or video, or podcast) where you helped other clients navigate a similar issue, your client base cannot help but engage you.
Your own book of content is one of the most valuable assets imaginable and is not only a powerful tool to augment lead generation and conversion, but is intellectual property that can be sold at some point in the future.
The words we read, the videos we watch, the photographs we see or the audio we hear — it all helps others understand who we are, what we do and why we matter. Ignoring the fact that the world craves content, in whatever form, and wants to be able to do their own research before identifying their need, means missing opportunities for business — not only now, but with increasing frequency in the future.