Owners of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are jacks of many trades. Yet, they often must improvise. They usually find that the best way to learn how to do things and grow their business—while avoiding common mistakes—is from their peers, other SMB owners. And indeed: It’s hard to beat the “war stories” that only other business owners can tell.
This is why customer-based content is one of the best arrows in your marketing quiver.
There’s no better time than right now, as we gradually emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, to feature the stories of your SMB customers. It could be how they “pivoted” to stay relevant and profitable amid the pandemic, how they survived, or simply how they overcame a challenge and learned an important lesson along the way. And to be sure: The free publicity and exposure they get by you letting them tell such stories through your larger-brand megaphone are valued by SMBs more than ever.
What is customer-based content?
Customer-based content is content that features your customers. It can take different forms, including:
- Case studies—short stories relating the experiences of real customers using your product or service
- Customer profiles—content that features your customers but is not focused on how they use your product or service
- Best practices—content about business strategies or ideas that can be bylined by the customer, which are written in a journalistic style or presented as an interview
- Compilations, which are also called roundups—best practices or advice collected from a variety of other SMBs
An example of great customer-based content
Some companies have already picked up on this and are doing a great job with featuring customers in their content.
One example: Spectrum Business features a different business owner every month in its “How I Did It” columns, including this recent one about a South Carolina bookstore that began rolling out new services and revenue sources after customers stopped coming in-store during the pandemic.
Why is customer-based content so special?
Because everyone wins:
- Your visitors get useful and inspiring content. SMBs like to see what others in similar situations are doing.
- Your customers get exposure. That’s something most SMBs crave, yet struggle to get.
- Your brand gets more engagement. Done right, your content will build trust with customers and prospects. As they become more engaged with your content, you can generate demand for your products.
As a bonus, customer stories involving your product or service boost employee engagement, as well. Reading or hearing about the positive impact your company is making is more inspiring than learning the latest revenue results.
Some tips on creating great customer-based content
- Make customer-based content a regular part of your editorial calendar. It will be one of the content assets that your audience looks forward to the most.
- Develop a process for finding customers who want to participate and have something meaningful to share.
- Give the writer direct access to the customer. Customer-based content from second-hand sources is less compelling.
Peer-to-peer content has instant credibility among business owners, who share a common bond—and that is especially true in these trying and fast-changing times that the pandemic has presented. The positive experiences of other SMBs with your product or service, and the favorable light you can shine on your customers, can greatly enhance the effectiveness of your content in driving sales and deepening customer relationships.
Get insights and tips for marketing to small and midsize businesses from the people who speak SMB.