As a small business leader are you considering putting your efforts into content marketing? Maybe you have heard all the hub-bub about it being the next “big” thing. If so, great! Creating content is a wonderful investment of your time that will work on long term basis. But before you get started churning out a bunch of random articles, stop and ask yourself this question: what content would my customers LOVE? Because if you aren’t coming up with content that is going to wow your customers, you are missing the goal. Sure, it is true that not all content is going to be stellar. But you want the majority of what you put out there to resonate and be memorable to your audience.

Here are 3 questions to ask yourself to conjure up this elusive “great content”:

1) What do your customers struggle with the most? You’ve got this! You know your customers. You’ve listened. There may be a lot of things that throw them off but think about the big one…. the BIG thing that challenges them. And then think up solutions. Spell out ways to get ahead of it and overcome it. They will love and respect your for it. And they will see you as a thought leader because you “get it”.

2) Give them statistics AND the interpretations. We’ve all seen people in the media doing this. They throw out a big alarming statistic or industry news announcement to get attention. And I’m sure it does. (Chicken Little had the same approach and we all know where it got him.) What your customers would really like is if you explain what it means to them. How does it impact them? Why should they care? And what should they do about it? Doing this consistently will make the difference from being a resource that they just stumble upon, versus a resource they seek out.

3) Involve your customers in your stories. This can sound scary to some but guess what? With social media running rapidly and review sites like Yelp on everyone’s smart phones, it’s already happening. Your customers are already having conversations about you in public, searchable forums. Instead of watching passively, take the initiative. Highlight your customers. Recognize them in success stories or interviews. Ask them what they want from your newsletters and product revisions and work those suggestions into them. Make them feel like they are part of your community, not just an isolated customer. The car manufacturer, Saturn did this brilliantly in their marketing. They focused on their car owners, they made commercials about them, they interacted with them, and in turn, their customers adored them. Sure that’s on a big scale but your smaller business should be able to do it even better and have an even bigger impact.

Next time you sit down to write up your content marketing plan, make sure some of these action items are included. Because anyone can churn out content, but you can be the one to produce content that your customers love.

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