"Blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and other online platforms are giving organization like yours an enormous opportunity to engage directly with your customers or would-be customers," write Ann Handley and CC Chapman in their book Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business.

"Now, thanks to the...Internet and...web-based tools and technologies, you can create online content—blog posts, videos, webinars, and web sites—that will attract customers to you, so you won't have to chase after them. What's more, you can entice your customers to share that content with each other, all across the Web," they explain.

In short, every company is now a publisher, and Handley and Chapman advise that you embrace that new reality.

The hitch, of course, is that the content you create must be on target—customer-focused, compelling, entertaining, surprising, valuable, interesting, and authentic—so that you can earn the attention of your prospects and customers... and keep them coming back!

What's more, your content must truly help your clients and customers. And if it does, you will become a trusted resource for customers. Moreover, by providing the right content at the right time, you can convince customers to take action—and, eventually, work their way through the buying/selling process and acquire your product or service.

All that is well and good, of course, but how does one go about creating such great content? Handley and Chapman offer 11 "content rules," including the already-noted Rule No. 1, Embrace being a publisher. Here are three others:

Speak human. "Communicate...in simple terms, using the language of your customers.... Kill corporate-speak, buzzwords, and other language that makes you sound like a tool."

Share or solve, don't shill. "Good content doesn't try to sell. Rather, it creates value by positioning you as a reliable and valuable source of...information" by sharing resources with customers or solving their problems.

Show, don't just tell. "Good content doesn't preach or hard-sell. Instead, it...demonstrates...how your customers use your product or service, and explains in human terms how it adds value to their lives...and meets their needs."

The Po!nt: Produce great content, and your customers will come to you. Produce really great content, and your customers will share and disseminate your message for you.

Source: Content Rules

Image: "Love the Internet," courtesy of Bigstock

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