Updated: Jul 8
You’ve heard over and over again that you need to create content of value — but very rarely do you find guidance on how to do that.
Think about the content you distribute to potential or existing customers at the moment: How much of your social media captions, your website copy, or email marketing is promotional (“Buy our awesome product!”) versus serviceable (“Here are great tips you’ll find useful!”)?
In the magazine world, we called these little pieces of helpful information service. A common editor’s note you might find in a column is “Where’s the service?” or “Add a quick piece of service here.”
That’s because editors know that providing serviceable tips is key to engaging an audience — and this is also a great place to showcase your expertise as an industry leader.
To create content that can help your potential customers better their lives, you need to identify their pain points, provide solutions, and then connect your products and services to those solutions if it’s an authentic fit.
Get deeply acquainted with your customers to identify their pain points: Attend the groups or networking events they go to and listen to their questions. Read what they post about on social media and hang out where they spend time online, whether it’s on Instagram or Reddit (here’s a little secret: even global corporations learn a lot about their target audience by reading Reddit threads).
Then, think about these three things that define serviceable content:
It’s actionable and specific: Tell your audience exactly what to do and why. For instance, if you want to elevate your expertise in interior design, a specific tip like “Choose furniture with visible legs rather than hidden legs to make a room seem larger” is more actionable than “Make sure your room feels airy and bright.”
It’s realistic: The quickest way to disengage a busy customer is by giving them an unrealistic tip. For instance, if you’re positioning yourself as a literacy expert, you might say: “Try to read with your child for at least 15 minutes every day — and point out examples of text in everyday life, like on street signs, to help them understand the real-life uses of reading!” rather than “You must read at least 100 different picture books with your child per year.”
It’s vetted: Who’s giving this advice? If you’re the expert, note your credentials. Or if you’re a CEO positioning your brand as the expert, incorporate an expert from your team. For instance, if you run a skincare company, ask the dermatologist you developed the line with to share tips — and be sure to list their credentials.
Serviceable content is important for building long-lasting relationships with your customers. It establishes trust and positions your brand as a voice of authority in your industry.
Aim to post serviceable to promotional content in a 3:1 ratio — and you’ll start to see a larger, more engaged audience.
Kelsey Kloss is the founder of Kloss Creatives, a PR and social media company that elevates entrepreneurs as thought leaders in their industries. Previously, she was an in-house journalist and editor for national media brands including Good Housekeeping, ELLE Decor, Reader’s Digest, Woman’s Day, Prevention, and Redbook. Kelsey has also shaped digital marketing strategy for corporations such as Scholastic and AT&T.