How To Use Content Marketing To Inspire Your Customers


There is no simple formula for inspiration. There isn’t a single process or “8 simple steps” that will help you change customer behavior. Why? Everyone is different. We are all inspired by different things and at different stages of our lives.  As a boy, I was so inspired when Daniel-san drop kicked Johnny Lawrence of the Cobra Kai in the Karate Kid that I begged my mom to sign me up for Karate lessons. Today, those things don’t really inspire me much anymore, well maybe a little … oh, and Karate lessons only lasted a few months.  I am now inspired by other things that weren’t as relevant to me when I was young as they are today – sports, fitness and of course my little girls who inspire me everyday to get my hustle on.

But one question that we must ask ourselves is whether a brand can actually inspire their customers?

I believe they can. But it requires a fundamental shift in the way we think, and act, and plan and more importantly communicate.  We must stop referring to customers as target audience, segments or page views; and consider that they are real people, with real emotions.  We must learn to give without any expectation at all of receiving anything in return. I call this reciprocal altruism and sometime it’s as easy as just saying, “thank you”, maybe an @mention to a customer or maintaining a positive attitude when we are getting grilled online.

If you love your customers, they will love you back and tell others about their experience [Tweet this]

Certainly ROI and business value are important here and I am not saying that we must be scared of the “hard sell.”  The great thing about content marketing is that you can move customers up, down and through the purchase funnel by simply by providing content that matters – the right content, at the right time, in the right channel to the right customer; and not forgetting about how paid, earned and owned media work together across the eco-system. A good example is the NBA Facebook page. On their page, they provide value-add content in the form of photos, videos, polls and basic commentary about what’s happening about teams and players around the league. Every 5 or so posts, they share a link from their e-commerce store showcasing a jersey, shoes or other apparel. In fact, just last week they released the new Air Jordan 8 Retro shoe and provided a link where fans can purchase. If you look carefully at the URL, you’ll see that they are tracking sales from their page.

It reminds me of a book that was written well over a decade ago and it was definitely pioneer thinking at that time.  Seth Godin’s “Permission Marketing” was written on the premise of reciprocal altruism. He argued that marketers must build trust and credibility with their customers and then “ask them for permission” to market their services. Same concept today and even true for IRL relationships. It’s simply applying what we already know to be true as humans.

And the truth is, there are some companies that inspire for one reason and one reason only. They have bad-ass products. I don’t care at all if they say “thank you” on Twitter or crowd-source community feedback because they are looking to create a new product.  As long as they continue to innovate and stay bad-ass, I will continue to be inspired, buy their products and tell all my friends about it.

So the key takeaway here is this. If you have a commodity product or service, you need to try really hard at applying reciprocal altruism too all of your content marketing initiatives.  You will surprised at your customers’ reaction.  And, if you a market leader or your products are 2nd to none … just, just carry on with your bad self!

  • Barry Deutsch

    Interesting article about inspiring your customers (or prospects) to take action.

    Here’s the questions I am always asking myself in trying to leverage and curate content:

    How do you inspire your prospects? Do you give them a reason – or rather amcontinual stream of reasons to want to engage with you?

    Is your content the same boring crap that everyone else is sharing links on in your niche OR are you publishing EPIC information?

    Do you challenge your prospects to reconsider how they use for your services?

    Are you the leading voice in your niche for innovative thinking?

    Are you giving your prospects an overwhelming reason to pick up the phone and start a conversation with you?

    Many of the search projects I get don’t start out as prospects calling me asking if I’ll do a search. Instead, they usual start out as a
    discussion around “I have a problem and i’m not sure how to solve it.”

    Sometimes, my search solution is the answer. Howevver, it’s been my
    experience that 8 of 10 times, executive search is not the answer.
    Perhaps, they need one of my “other” hiring solutions. Perhaps, I can give them a few ideas for a DIY approach.

    My goal in content marketing is not to sell, rather it’s to inspire prospects to engage with me on their pain points of hiring, retention, and performance management. This approach keeps the top of my funnel full.

    I would challenge the readers of your blog post in how they specifically use content curation to keep the top of your funnel full – other than scrambling for work since now you’ve hit a lull between projects?

    What I cannot reconcile is why niche experts, consultants, coaches, speakers, and personal service providers don’t leverage content curation more effectively to inspire their prospects and customers.

    Barry Deutsch
    IMPACT Hiring Solutions

    • Michael Brito

      @barry_deutsch:disqus thank you so much for the comment. Wow, a lot of questions… : )

      The first thing you need to do is develop your content narrative — what you want to say, how you want to say and then lastly, where you want to say it. The narrative is the most important as it’ll help you deliver refreshing content and also curate somewhat “relevant” content that adds some level of value to what your prospects are interested in.