In the last few months our branding firm has seen an unprecedented rash of new business opportunities. While I never look a gift horse in the mouth, the control freak, Type-A part of my personality wants to know where they’re all coming from. The small part of my brain dedicated to business analytics wants to know why. My partner Roberto does, too. I’m sure the recovering economy has something to do with it. Our public relations activities do as well. I’m positive that some of our recent popularity is thanks to all the networking my partner and I do, and I believe that a lot of it has to do with the great results we’ve produced for our clients.
But truth is, I think a lot of it has to do with this blog. That’s right, this blog that you receive every Wednesday morning at ten a.m.
How do I know? Because almost every new business inquiry that comes in by email was either typed as a reply to a blog post or mentions the blog somewhere in the note. And almost everyone I run into mentions that they read the blog or they remember something from the blog or that they have questions about the blog.
Maybe I’m giving away a powerful competitive advantage here, but in my desire for these essays to be useful, valuable, and enjoyable I did promise that they would always be honest, insightful, and transparent. So here you go…
What do readers want to know most often? The most common question is whether I actually write these posts. The answer is yes, every word. I do have an eagle-eyed proofreader who keeps me from embarrassing myself too much, and friends do recommend topics from time to time, but the writing is all me.
The second most popular question is how I find the time to write the posts. “So is that all you do these days, sit around and write blog posts?” It’s usually asked with the same annoyed affect you’d use when asking, “So is that all you do these days, sit around and stuff bon bons in your pie hole?” The answer is an emphatic no. What I do all day is work in the agency, meet with clients, pitch business, create campaigns, and work with our wonderous creative teams. Writing the blog posts themselves is actually a pretty quick activity, a Kerouac-like rush of creative inspiration that never takes much more than a half an hour or so. And because so many of our clients are out of town and I travel so often, much of that writing time takes place on my laptop in airplane exit rows. But that’s the deal with a weekly blog because, as Sammy Davis Jr. sang in the opening to Baretta, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.”
It’s the thinking about the blogs that takes time, and I do that mostly on my morning runs. I’m always on the lookout for subjects to discuss with you here and I spend a lot of time crafting the messages and searching for meaning. But let’s face it: We all do that anyway as we look for ways to build our businesses and evolve as human beings.
What can take time is the refining process. I believe that the key to good writing is not only the writing itself but also the editing — that’s where the craftsmanship comes into play. And so after I write a post, I go back over it again and again and again, changing a word here, shortening a sentence there, polishing a pun, massaging a metaphor. It’s still not much of an imposition, though, because most of that also happens in quick bursts of activity and doesn’t take a lot of time.
The third question I often hear is where the ideas come from in the first place. Most people who are thinking about starting a blog are concerned about staring at a blank computer screen week after week and wondering what the heck to write. It reminds me of the days when our clients used to ask us to create newsletters for them. When we would demur, we’d explain that it was because of the lifecycle of the common newsletter: The first newsletter is fun. The second newsletter is three weeks late… there is no third newsletter.
Luckily, running out of things to write about has never been a problem for me. Maybe I’m just full of hot air, but my problem is usually having too many interesting subjects to choose between — not struggling to come up with fresh content. In fact, if I thought you’d be willing to read my missives more often, I’d actually write more often. But don’t worry, I won’t abuse the honor you’ve given me of reading my words every week or so by burdening your inbox with more mail.
Back to the influence our blog has had on our recent successes, though. The reasons I think the blog itself is so powerful is not because of what’s written but because it allows us to maintain a relationship with almost 13,000 readers every week. And because I respect the privilege you’ve given me, we’re careful to never sell anything. Instead, the blog has created a vehicle to show the world what our agency does, how we think, and how we can help our clients and potential clients build their brands and increase their sales without ever being on the muscle.
I truly believe the medium can do the same for you. And if you have questions about the technology we use to market the blog, I’d be happy to share that, too.
So you keep reading and enjoying. And I’ll keep working and writing. Seems like a pretty good deal to me.