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Does Content Actually Bring in Customers? Trust, relevance and interest are what attract readers to content, which then, quite naturally, introduces them to the products content providers sell.

By Amy Osmond Cook Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Got Milk?

Just do it.

Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.

You've heard them before. The taglines of the Milk Processor Education Program and of Nike and M&Ms have penetrated American vernacular, influenced culture and shot product sales through the roof. Such is the power of content.

Relationships.

Content marketing, when done right, develops relationships of trust that result in new business. "Today's content marketing is not about distracting the customer," said Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner. "It's to attract them with useful content. People then grow relationships with you because they see you as the trusted source for that particular content. This can then lead to sales."

Related: The 4 Laws of Content Marketing

Some companies -- especially legacy enterprises in industries that are slow to change -- question the value of content marketing. When I work with clients, I hear everything from "Our company relies strictly on referral partners," to "Nobody reads anymore." Yet most of the time, companies believe conceptually in content marketing, but they just don't know how to implement it correctly.

By providing content that is trustworthy, relevant, and interesting, you can directly influence your bottom line.

Trustworthy.

The number one goal for content should be to develop trust with your readers. Do this, and you'll have customers banging down your doors. I write a senior health and wellness column for the Orange County Register. It's read especially by the 18,000 residents of Laguna Woods, one of the largest active adult communities in the US. As a writer, I am essentially a health content curator. I interview experts in many different fields and provide health and wellness information for my readers.

I've been writing the column for about two years. At first, I didn't receive much feedback. But, over time, I developed a readership that appreciated the information. About two months ago, my editor called me and said my column was ranked number one for Laguna Woods. I started receiving emails from readers who appreciated the column or even disagreed with it. I also received emails asking for recommendations on doctors to treat the various conditions I described. These referrals have resulted in new business for the health professionals I feature. And it's all because people started regarding my column as worthy of their trust.

Relevant.

Your content might be trustworthy, but it's not going to do you any good unless it's relevant to the customer base you're trying to reach. Chargers fans aren't going to think your blog on proper ballet technique is very interesting. Foodies won't care that you think Ryan Gosling is a good kisser in The Notebook. Toddler moms won't find your blog on the best fine dining in Newport very relevant to their lives -- even when they wish they could be there instead of in their kitchen, preparing Dino nuggets.

Related: 4 Content-Marketing Methods to Stay Above Your Competition

"The main goal is not to get content published but to identify what the readers of the publication want," said Ayodeji Onibalusi of Effective Inbound Marketing. His business focuses on developing relevant content to attract customers and build brands.

One way to write relevant content is to study online search queries. I personally use a tool called Storybase to find out what questions people are searching for most on the Internet. Using that as a guide, I craft articles that answer those questions.

Interesting.

Capture your reader's attention within eight seconds to make an impact. Yes, you read that right. Business expert and blogger, Kimberly Yuhl says you have just eight words to convince the reader to hang on until the end of the article.

Nobody wants to read boring stuff. If you want to rise above the content clutter, you've got to provide something worth consuming. You also need to make sure you're targeting to the right channel. LinkedIn users won't think my family content is very intriguing. And my health articles get only a few likes on Facebook, but my kids' pics get more than 250. It's all about using strategically developed content that helps your brand attract, educate, and convert readers and viewers into paying customers.

Related: How Your Company Can Use Facebook Groups for Marketing

Don't wait for customers to come to you. Capture them by providing a trustworthy platform that delivers relevant information about interesting topics. Then you will discover what some of today's leading companies already know: Solid marketing content is today's secret weapon for attracting -- and keeping -- quality customers.

Amy Osmond Cook

Entrepreneur and Writer; CEO of Osmond Marketing, a full-service content marketing agency.

Amy Osmond Cook, Ph.D., is the VP of marketing at Simplus, director of Simplus Creative Services, and founder of Osmond Marketing. She enjoys reading business books, playing the violin and trying new restaurants with her husband and five children. Follow her at @amyocook.

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