Show Me the Money

Last week, I had a really great discussion with a really great (non-blogosphere) friend. We had a long talk about blogs, RSS, podcasting, and all these crazy new web technologies.

This particular guy (who I’ll call ‘B’) is in sales and sells business intelligence solutions to federal agencies. He is responsible for bringing in some pretty big business. As a young professional who is not quite thirty, you’d think he might be receptive to all this innovation but B wasn’t letting me off easy that night – nor does he ever. That is why I appreciate him so much.

B is one of the people probably scratching his head about my move from a cozy comfy corporate job (complete with 401k, health benefits, etc.) to the realms of independent consultancy. I think he, like others, just doesn’t get all this ‘blogging stuff’ and has joked with me about it. For example, this past Friday when he invited me out he said, “C’mon, you should come, it will give you something to blog about.” Touche my good friend.

But B has more than jokes. In fact, he asked me a very poignant question during our conversation, one that I’ve heard more and more over the past month – “That’s great, but how do you make any money with this stuff?”

I believe that this question while fair highlights one of the quintiscential misconceptions about what blogging, RSS, and podcasting are all about. Namely, that ‘investing’ in these technologies demands a quantifiable ‘show me the money’ addition to the bottom-line.

While the end goal is to ‘show businesses the money’, I see these technologies as the enablers for success, a means to an end (‘end’=money in the mind of most businesses). They offer alternative and often better channels for organizations to communicate their message and connect with those most important to them (e.g, customers or constituents).

B’s question is the same one many were asking when websites first appeared on the scene back in the dot.com era. It’s the type of question that lead to a number of dot.bomb disasters. It was only a matter of time though, before established companies like Foot Locker or Home Depot understood that having a website was not just for virtual businesses that delivered pet food. They realized that a website was a powerful tool that could transform the way they connected with their customers.

Blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, email newsletters, or phones and fax machines for the matter are all part of an ever growing toolkit for businesses. These technologies represent new paths to clients and new means by which an organization can extend its reach or repurpose its content.

In conclusion, no B, I can’t guarantee you that a blog will make you and your company an additional $X per day. But neither can you or most companies quantify how much money your phone, fax lines, website, or email contribute to your bottom line – that doesn’t deny the fact that each of those innovations has revolutionized the way you think about and do your business.

So, thanks for giving me something to blog about and I hope this discussion was as helpful to you as it was to me.