“Tell me something interesting about your business?”

This is my usual opening gambit for my regular email, social media and content marketing workshops for small and medium-sized businesses.

It’s a great icebreaker and normally gets people talking. Even those attendees who initially shrug their shoulders and suggest there is nothing particularly interesting about their business usually find something worth talking about once everyone else has had a go.

I’ve had people mention everything from celebrity endorsements, inspirational start-up stories, unusual orders fulfilled in difficult circumstances and even royal visits. When you get people talking about their business (even here in the UK where people tend to be more reserved) they start to show the underlying pride and passion in their work.

But this question is more than a simple icebreaker. The answers help steer my presentation for the remainder of the session and also help the attendees realize they have a whole raft of resources to fall back on for interesting, engaging, timely and potentially profitable email newsletters, blog posts, press releases and social media campaigns.

So when delegates tell me they don’t know where to start with their content marketing strategy, I refer back to their opening statement. They’ve already told me something amazing – perhaps this is a good starting block.

4 Inspirational Content Marketing Resources

  1. Your Customers: Your customers have a choice, so why do they always come back to you? Hopefully it’s because they enjoy your service, find your products or services useful and would recommend you to a friend or colleague. Your customers can be an inspirational source of content – so pick up the phone and ask them if they would like to share something.
  2. Your Colleagues: Any customer facing member of your staff is likely to a whole bank of ideas about how your business solves particular problems for their clients. Content that solves problems is like gold dust in content marketing circles. Make sure you sweep it up and cash it in.
  3. Your Suppliers: Suppliers can be an amazing resource for content. This could be customer reviews, product images, blog posts, videos, instructional manuals, best practice guides or the opportunity to co-host a webinar or tradeshow presentation. Ultimately, they want you to sell more and will very likely jump at the opportunity to help you develop a solid content marketing strategy.
  4. Your Community: Comments left on your blog, sent to you via social media or posted on a community forum can provide great inspiration to build new content. If one person asks a question, the chances are many other people will be interested in the answer. Scour these resources for new leads but remember, successful selling is often more about helping people than the hard sell.

John W. Hayes will be running a full-day workshop entitled Becoming THE Expert: Content Marketing Boot Camp in London on February 13th, 2013. Tickets for this event are extremely limited and can be booked here.