How well are you weathering the downturn?
Regular visitors will know that Out of the Box Innovations is dedicated to helping small to medium sized oil and gas companies with their marketing. This article also applies to people looking for work, during the current oil downturn individuals are finding a need to market themselves too.
During a crash, or a bust, like the one we are currently experiencing in the oil and gas industry, there’s a choice of options:
- Retire early/close your business.
- Batten down the hatches and stop spending money.
- Pivot your offering to fit the market. (For example, a business angel can become a bankruptcy adviser).
- Use the extra time and space to refine your business or personal value proposition.
You do have choices, though, which is always a great position to be in!
In previous articles, we’ve covered some of the best things to do online to move towards the goal of online omnipresence. One of the most powerful ways of doing this is in the use of social media to network.
So, let’s say that your network is growing, and you’re interacting with influencers and decision-makers in your sector of the oil and gas business. That’s great.
You already know what you have to offer to other people or companies. Whether you’ve created the best valve or widget in the world, or you’re a talented multilateral engineer… You know what you’re capable of and the solution that you provide in the marketplace.
It’s not enough that YOU know what you can do
There’s a gulf, a canyon between what you can offer, and the new network that you’re building. You see, the people that you’re interacting with on Twitter or LinkedIn might think you’re smart, intelligent and helpful, but they don’t know exactly how you can help solve their problem in their business.
Perhaps you’re their next fracing consultant that they need to hire to help bring costs down. Or the next oil field services company who has created a fractional ownership model? One that helps E&P companies to keep costs down while retaining the benefits of having the equipment when they need it. (Did I just make up a business idea?)
How do your new business partners know? They might know what field you’re in, (and like you), but are they about to bring you onto their project?
The solution, the bridge between your knowledge, and them noticing you on social media, is solved by content creation!
Online content can mean blog posts, Podcasts, YouTube videos or anything that you can create and publish.
Creating content online will allow you to demonstrate your expertise to your next employer or create your next B2B deal. Each piece of content accumulates to become a ‘body of work’. Rather than just your helpful comments being spread through social media, your in-depth problem-solving articles can help people across the world.
You’re not an expert because you say you are, or even if someone else says you are. You or your company can demonstrate practical knowledge on a regular basis. When someone needs you, it’s likely that they’ll already know and trust you through your body of work. This means you won’t need to pitch or convince; they’ll come to you.
There’s a problem with creating content, though. Not everyone’s good at it. Not everyone has the time or patience to sit there in front of a blank screen and create something that’ll really demonstrate who they are and what they can do.
Here’s the content problem spelt out:
When you’re promoting yourself or your business online, there are a number of common problems faced by most people. Some are conceptual problems or issues related to a lack of understanding of websites and how the internet works. Other problems relate to skill sets being out of sync with what’s needed online.
(For simplicity, much of this article refers to companies and company owners looking for clients. The same techniques apply to individuals improving their online profiles for future employment and career growth).
If you want your website to appear higher in the search engine results, you can hire someone for that. If you want a new website, then contact a web designer.
The hardest problems to solve online are the ones where you need to combine your own experience, knowledge and expertise, with online skills. The best example that comes to mind is regarding content creation.
If you want blog posts or articles written, you can’t just call a writer and expect them to be able to write in your companies tone, in your industries jargon, in a way that’ll resonate with your customers.
So this is one of the biggest issues that a company owner faces when trying to get more traction online. There was a time where you could slap up a ten-page website and expect people to find you and be impressed. Now, in the age of infographics, Podcasts and YouTube, a flimsy site is a waste of time.
So, we all know that creating content is the way forward in order to create a body of work online, and get your message out to new customers. We know that with your industry knowledge and vision for your own companies future, you’re the best person to create these articles.
But you sit down, fire up the computer, open Word or Pages, and find yourself staring at a blank screen.
Suddenly you realise that you haven’t sat down and written academically for ten years? Twenty? Thirty? Your mind is blank.
In the bar at a conference you can talk for ages about what you do and how you do it, but to re-create this in written form seems alien. What do you do?
You know that even after you’ve written this post, you’ll need to write another, and another. What will you write about? How will you come up with new ideas? Ideas that people will want to read and will find interesting? Articles that attract customers – not repel them?
Content creation hacks
Fortunately, there are ‘hacks’ to enable the task of writing to become easier. I’ll share my favourite ones with you.
Take notes constantly
When you start to limber up and re-activate your creative muscle, you’ll start to find that ideas will pop into your head. These ideas are less likely to occur when you’re sat down ready to write an article from scratch, and more likely when taking a shower or driving your car.
When you get inspiration for a concept for a post, put pen to paper as soon as possible. Do it right away while creativity strikes, and while you can remember it. If you’re sat at your office desk then great, if you’re driving, you can pull over at the next convenient place and use a pen and paper. If you’re walking in the park and don’t have your pen and paper, then use your mobile phones note-taking application.
Write in stages
There’s no reason why you have to write the whole post in one sitting. In fact, until you get used to writing this will be very difficult. Just write until your creative juices stop flowing. It doesn’t matter whether you write ten words or 2000. Those ten words could form your companies new motto or slogan. Those 2000 words might get edited back to 500 gems.
After writing, you can file your work into different folders representing different stages of completion.
- There can be a folder for headlines, slogans, or themes.
- There can be a folder for short drafts of 3-500 words that might need to be fleshed out later.
- Then there’ll be a folder with complete articles ready for spell checking and editing again.
By taking notes constantly and then filing them in these folders, you’ll build up a production line and will never need to start from scratch again.
Re-purpose emails and Skype conversations
Some of our best growth opportunities in business come from customer feedback. An angry email might create a system change that stops you losing clients in the future. A positive idea from a colleague that inspires growth can be written about.
When I ever have a good Skype chat where the other person or I had a great idea or an ‘AHA!’ moment, I’ll cut and paste the thread into my Skype snippet folder which now has countless snippets. Sometimes an article is already halfway there.
An article written based on personal experience will always be more authentic and powerful than one that has been sourced and researched from other peoples work. This resonates with readers.
Don’t give up
Writing is like (almost) everything else in life; you get better with practice. So, if you decide that writing is beneficial for your business, keep going. You don’t need to publish anything unless it’s good enough and has been reviewed by a trusted friend or colleague.
It doesn’t matter how bad your work is in the beginning or how many errors are there. The learning curve will be fairly fast because the 20ish years of writing that you had to do during education is there at the back of your mind and will be dusted off. You’ll write better, and more easily over time.
Tag-team the task
It’s likely that there’s someone else in your company that can share the job of writing with you. Perhaps you’re great at expressing ideas, but your spelling, grammar and structure are bad. It could be that a co-worker or staff member is meticulous and very precise in how to structure a letter, article, journal or report. Pass the content back and forth and take turns to polish it until it is right. You’re likely to know when it’s good; it will be emotional.
Hopefully, this article has given you some good ideas, and you’ll go away and start writing. If you have any questions, please get in touch, either through the comments section below or through email or social media.
Also, If you don’t have anyone to edit, proofread or bounce ideas off, get in touch with me. Writing is a passion of mine, and I’m happy to help!