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Okay, I’m Creating Content How Do I Get Someone to Read it 5

This post is one in a series of five guest posts authored by the super star bloggers pictured below. As part of a celebration of National Small Business Week we are asking readers to match all five guests posts up with the contributing blogger to be entered for a chance to win an iPad2. Read all five posts in today’s series and come back each day this week for five new posts in this great educational series and another chance to win.

Ann Handley

Ann is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, which provides strategic and tactical marketing know-how for marketing and business professionals through a full range of online media. She writes for the MarketingProfs Daily Fix and is also a contributor to The Huffington Post. She is the co-author of the best selling book – Content Rules

Okay, I’m Creating Content How Do I Get Someone to Read It 5

So you’ve done it: You’ve taken the plunge and launched a blog, or a YouTube channel, a regular radio show. You’re elated and energized; your boss is thrilled! This is really going to drive people to your door! You imagine yourself winning the employee of the year award; your colleagues will leave the best parking spot open for you just out of sheer gratitude for all you’ve done for the business!

But pretty soon reality sets in: Creating content is hard work. Finding great stories is like working the salt mines with a plastic spork and a beach pail; if your blog was a city, it would be a eerily quiet place with tumbleweeds blowing along vacant, dusty streets. Why doesn’t your blog have any comments?

My first question is this: Are you sure you’re producing the right kind of content?

The inherent tension is marketing is that businesses always want to talk about their products or services. Meanwhile, your customers only want to hear what their products or services will do for them. That seems like a simple idea, right? A no-brainer? Except most businesses are terrible at really grokking what that means: Share a resource or solve a problem for your customers, help them do their jobs better; don’t just talk about your stuff.

In other words, good content doesn’t try to sell. Rather, it creates value for your customers (or would-be customers) by positioning you as a reliable and valuable source of information. In other words, your content shares a resource, solves a problem, helps your customers do their jobs better, improves their lives, or makes them smarter, wittier, better-looking, taller, better-networked, cooler, more enlightened, and with better backhands, tighter asses, and cuter kids. In other words, it’s high value to your customers, in whatever way resonates best with them.

American Express does this really well with its OPEN Forum (openforum.com) website. OPEN Forum is a resource for small business owners, and the articles and videos and ideas there transcend American Express specifically. But it positions Amex as a trusted source. American Express sees the value of putting Content and Context before Selling.

So does Citrix: It’s Workshifting.com blog is a place where “workshifters,” or people who work outside of a traditional offices, can share ideas and just hang out. Citrix sells technology, but its content creates a resource and shares ideas with people who work in their jammies. It focuses on how people use the technology, right? Not the technology itself.

So ask this question first: Are you sure you’re producing the right kind of content? Or are you capable of doing better?