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Whether in a B2C or B2B setting, many companies struggle to create effective communications that build not only credibility and trust with their audience but also excitement. So if we need help in communicating effectively to our customers, it only makes sense to turn to the author of Writing Copy for Dummies, Jonathan Kranz.

Kranz helps his clients clear the air by showing them how to realize and relate their expertise to customers. But he also keeps them from falling into the trap of talking about themselves instead of keeping the focus on the customer.

Sounds like Kranz is no dummy, and there's a good chance your copy will sound a lot smarter if you give his advice a spin.

Q: You've talked about the need for companies to leverage their "hidden" expertise and utilize the valuable content that they might not even realize they have. How can companies do this?

A: Here's the thing: We're so involved in our businesses—so close to the knowledge we apply every day to accomplish our work—that we no longer see our know-how as something special. We take it for granted. But it's precisely the stuff we take for granted that our potential customers most want to know.

So our first job is to pry the nuggets of expertise out of ourselves. I suggest a simple exercise: Take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. Then think of a recent success story, of something you or your company did to help a client or customer. Use the left side of the paper to list all the little elements of knowledge you had to apply in order to make your work, your product, or your service a success. On the right side, list your customers' concerns: what they desire, what they fear, what they hope for, what makes them sweat.

Then connect the dots—link the "what you know" on the left to the "what they need" on the right. Every connection represents an opportunity to communicate—a chance to develop content that has real meaning for your prospects.

Q: What is the most common mistake that you've seen companies make in crafting its collateral, whether it's aimed at potential customers or it's internal communications?

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image of Mack Collier

Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs and initiatives that let them better connect with their customers and advocates. His podcast, The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, discusses ways that brands can turn customers into fans. His first book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier

LinkedIn: Mack Collier