In a previous post I discussed the importance of small businesses providing their audiences with content that’s focused
more on cultivating long-term relationships than on pitching them the specific selling points of the businesses’ product or service offerings.

From the piece: “We’ve entered the age of content marketing, which means if you’re a small-business owner, marketing manager, social marketer or anyone else responsible for generating traffic to your company’s website and keeping prospects there upon arrival, you need to provide your potential customers with timely content you know they’ll find insightful, helpful and compelling.”

Today I happened upon this Direct Marketing News article, which further emphasizes the need for us marketing types to take a step back from our business-centric narcissism and make a point of engaging in meaningful conversations with the folks we hope to eventually land as paying customers.

There’s really no easier way to become engaged in a helpful, informative dialog with your audience than to let those you’re trying to reach guide the discussion. And a great way to find opportunities for engagement is to set up Google Alerts for the keywords specific to your areas of expertise. Use your Google Alerts results to find blogs, support forums, product review sites, social media pages and other arenas where your commentary could go a long way toward convincing potential customers you’re in the business of helping them solve problems.

Listen to what people are saying and provide answers, even if that means steering someone in the direction of a competitor who happens to offer a better solution to their specific problem than what your business is capable of providing.

If you demonstrate to the cyber world that your first priority is to be a transparent problem-solver, the folks with whom you converse are much more likely to keep your business top-of-mind and share with other potential customers their regard for you as a truly helpful thought leader.