In case you weren’t sure, the novelty’s over and Content Marketing is no longer new.In CMI’s recent B2B Content Marketing Research report, their findings revealed that 78 percent of marketers are allocating the same or an increased budget for content marketing for the upcoming year.The reasons are clear: it works better, cost less than traditional advertising and delivers the measurable ROI missing from old school marketing.For those not yet converted, content is the driver of inbound marketing. It’s the essential component that connects you with your audience, fosters online relationships and ultimately drives prospects back to your website or blog for nurturing and conversion.While content marketing’s growth and adoption are increasing, success with this endeavor is anything but a sure thing. That’s because of the unending need for content creation and distribution. And as CMI found, virtually every organization participating in content marketing is challenged to meet this ongoing requirement of publishing and distributing relevant, educational or entertaining content—in just about every digital media.Source: Content Marketing Institute | B2B Content Marketing ResearchA sales tool like no other.Make no mistake, content is the greatest sales tool in the world. The reasons are many and they include:PermanencyUnlike old school media or advertising, once you publish on the internet, the content remains in place for virtually forever.Increased value over timeThe more assets that you publish and deploy the faster they accumulate and accrue in value. It’s a fact that brands that have more than 100 posts generate 3X more leads than those that never publish new content to their site.SEOAssets that are optimized for search ensure that they’ll be found. And if you follow best SEO practices the opportunity increases that your content will continually be moving up the search engine results page.Thought leadershipPeople and brands that publish frequently and consistently foster credibility and earn trust when they address the needs of their customers.Supporting & building communityPeople look to those who are helpful and want to connect with others who have been helped with similar needs. Consistently publishing content that is easy to share ensures that what you create has increased pass along value by those that actually consume it.Everyone’s new position: marketing.Marcus Sheridan, founder of River Pools and Spas, The Sales Lion blogger, sought after speaker and passionate advocate of content marketing, shares an easily digestible approach to content marketing.“Be the best teacher in the world on what you do. We have no idea how much information viewers will consume on our websites until we give it to them.”With practically all information available on the web today, organizations must shift their thinking and actions so that every employee has the knowledge and ability to share answers to customer and prospect questions. As a result, every employee now needs to be a part of marketing.Make what you make worth the effort.So how do you know what content to create? Here are 5 practical answers that will keep you on track to always be publishing to help your customers succeed.1. | Look to your website FAQThis has become an almost expected page link on just about any website. If you don’t have one in your current website architecture, consider adding it and start providing answers. To what?Answer the top 10 questions people have about you, your product or service through blog posts, webinars, podcasts, images, and info graphics. Your goal should be to turn every question into a deployable digital asset. This one approach can easily translate into a year’s worth of content.2. | Talk to salespeopleThere’s no better repository of customer needs than your salesforce. They provide answers and overcome customer objections all day long.So talk to them. Ask them what prospects are actually asking them and write the questions and answers down. If this isn’t relevant or valuable to your site visitors, nothing will be.3. | Have a come to JesusGet the people in your company together and ask what questions they answer every single day. Write these down too. What everyone on your team needs to burn into their brain is “If they (your customer or prospect) ask, you answer.”Not just a verbal reply. Envision and plan how you’ll turn the answer into a digital asset that you can point others to (or that they’ll find on their own) to get the insight or answer they’re seeking.4. | Call or conduct a survey (with incentive)If your sales people can’t tell you what questions they’re getting asked, talk to your customers directly by calling them one by one or reaching out via email. Start with the most valued customers that generate the most income for your organization.You can also consider a short, structured survey that you can send to them with easy to use resources like Survey Monkey. Be sure to include an incentive when you reach out to customers to complete the survey. These can include: a discount for their next purchase, a free gift or free delivery with purchase.Forget worrying about if your respondents answers aren’t 100% positive. The data will often surprise you. In our experience, candid answers provide invaluable guidance on how to improve your solution, sustain relationships and how you’ll attract other customers like them. Surveys are also a great way acknowledge how much you value your customer insights and experience.5. | Walk in your customer’s shoesIf you think people are interested in you or your needs, it’s time to revisit your thinking. More than ever, it’s about WIIFM (What’s in it for me!). Consider creating content around the benefits and the value that you’ll deliver to your customer.No one will be attracted to or engage in a one sided conversation about you. They’ll simply click off to another resource that is empathetic or understanding of their needs. They only want to know how you’ll inform or help them to address their needs.6. | Get it donePublishing frequently creates momentum and set expectations. It also separates you from your competitors.That’s because you’re putting the needs of your prospects and customers before your own and providing them with education, insights and content that helps them.As a result, you become the trusted source that they turn to to overcome the challenge that they face. Authority, credibility and trust are earned by your actions. And let’s remember, this elusive attribute is never granted because of your heritage or position—it’s only earned.[/box_grey]Culture shift.Like it or not, it’s time to buy into the thinking that creating content must be part of your company’s culture. Let go of your concerns about giving away your IP, secret sauce or family jewels. You don’t have any anymore.If you want to be a thought leader in your industry, have an authentic opinion or point of view and share it with the people you want to attract that will turn into customers. Content marketing is the means and you’re the ignition. So if you’ve already started, it might be time to turn it up.