5 Ways to Guide Customers with Content Marketing

Through content marketing, you can build 4 kinds of relationships with customers – guru, guide, partner or helper. Here are 5 ideas for how to create “guide” content your customers will value.

Guide content offers useful information that enables customers to do what they couldn’t do before. It’s practical, step-by-step, focused on what a customer needs to know now.

Guide content comes from brands that stay a step ahead of customers, but not too far ahead. (See 5 ways to create “guru” content.) Guides help pave the customers’ way to success.

When do your customers most need a guide or teacher? Guides are invaluable for new pursuits and territories. Imagine:

  • Going to a new city or country you’ve never visited before.
  • Learning a new skill – such as playing a musical instrument, speaking a foreign language or cooking new cuisines.
  • Learning a new sport – mountain climbing, whitewater rafting or yoga.

Sometimes you clearly need a guide to help you build a new skill set and get the most out of a new pursuit. What’s your favorite guide content?

Successful guide content delivers exactly the education and coaching that fits your need. Here are 5 ways to develop guide content for your brand:

  1. Understand what customers want to do … that they haven’t done before. Looking through the eyes of your customers, what questions do customers ask before they buy? What questions do users ask? Can you go beyond the obvious? For example, British Airways provides a jet lag advisor.
  2. Help customers acquire new skills. People need guides to embark on a new experience. Certain skills will be required. Work to understand and address the broad skill set your customers need. Gibson guitars offers free online lessons on how to string a guitar, how to play, even how to sound like U2.
  3. Show, then tell. Guides show you how to do something new. Guides are attentive to each learner, since everyone starts at a different level. Good guides start where you are (not where their skills are). Visual content is invaluable for guide brands. Videos can be tiered to address different skill levels. Coaching by a real live person is best of all, and for many brands, it’s a service customers are willing to pay for.
  4. When you must tell, use analogies. Help customers understand with analogies. For example, it took me some time to learn how to get in and out of a kayak gracefully. Finally, a kayak coach said, “Use that paddle like it’s the kickstand on your bicycle.” Breakthrough! Analogies crystallize the idea. And they stick.
  5. Be generous. Generous guides give away superior knowledge of a domain. They enlarge the market by creating interest and pools of future customers.

Guides focus on what you need now. A guide knows the terrain, offers knowledge, builds skills and boosts confidence. Guides enable you to go where you couldn’t go before.

To create guide content, start with the question: What do your customers want to know how to do?

Next week: how to create “partner” content that customers crave.

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