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Using Content to Start Conversations & Create Brand Advocates



Using Content to Start Conversations & Create Brand Advocates

By Kevin Dugan 
Director of Content at Empower MediaMarketing and author of The Bad Pitch Blog
@prblog

Your content can serve as a catalyst, connecting your business with your customers. Just consider what American Express and LinkedIn are doing with content. Many of us have spent time in OPEN Forum or LinkedIn’s Pulse reading topics that interest us and adding our comments to the conversations after each article.

How do small and mid-size businesses create content that will engage customers? Here are some tips to consider:

1) GET OVER YOURSELF

Have you ever found yourself at an event and in a conversation with another attendee who is only interested in talking about himself? Consider how interesting your content will be to your customers if you commit this same mistake. Your content should not be about your business or it will resemble marketing copy.

2) KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS

So how do you promote your business without talking about it? Focus on your customers’ topics of interest that are relevant to your business. A hardware store, for example, might serve up seasonal maintenance tips and do-it-yourself help to get reader attention.

3) GET ANALYTICAL

Google Analytics is a perfect place to find inspiration. Which areas of your site are getting the most traffic? Finding which topics are driving the most traffic on your site is a great way to start focusing in on specific story ideas.

4) SEARCH FOR IT

Your site’s search logs will show you if customers are searching for topics on your site that you don’t currently write about. Consider that each search is a question they’re asking. Without relevant content for them to find, you’re leaving the question unanswered.

5) TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMERS

Think about the conversations you have with your customers. What topics or questions are they always asking? An accountant that gets the same questions about a specific tax deduction should write about this topic. It helps her clients with a topic that is clearly of interest and it and saves her time.  If you already have a list of frequently asked questions, consider if each question should become its own article.

6) FIND A NICHE

A natural instinct is to look at what your competitor is doing for ideas. Consider instead untapped topics you can explore for your customers. Setting yourself apart with unique content is critical to standing out from the crowd.

7) STAY UP TO DATE

There’s an old saying that to make the news you need to know the news. You can become a source for your customers. But you need to make sure your point of view is as timely as possible. Setting up Google News Alerts on the key topics you want to write about for your customers is one way to make sure you’re always framing your point of view in the most relevant way possible.

8) DON’T’ FORCE IT

If it’s baseball season and teams are vying for their spot in the World Series, and your business has nothing to do with sports, much less baseball, don’t try and force a connection. The calendar and current events can definitely help us consider timely topics of interest for customers. But remember that, in addition to knowing what to write about, you must know what topics to avoid completely. Relevance, again, is key. These tips will get you started – and remember, this is a learning process.  Each piece of content you publish can teach you something you can apply to the next. Don’t be afraid to test and learn.


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