As a copywriter, part of my job is asking my clients tough questions. Whenever I conduct an interview to get background information for a piece of copy, at least one of my questions will stump my clients and force them to think about their businesses and customers in new ways. This level of questioning can bring out new ideas and perspectives that shape my clients’ marketing.

Asking tough questions and challenging your customers can also strengthen your content marketing. The B2B sales cycle is long – with customers deeply reviewing multiple service providers before they make a purchasing decision. If your content is too general or “safe,” you won’t stand apart from your competition or show potential customers that you really understand their issues.

By challenging your customers – or providing them with content that forces them to think deeply about their problems and how to solve them – you will make your messages stick. Your content will start to resonate more with your target audience, which can lead to increased sales and improved ROI.

Here are three ways that you can challenge and inspire your customers:

Some corporate blogs are little more than frequently updated sales pitches. Instead of viewing yourself as a marketing professional who has been tasked with driving sales, think of yourself as a hard-hitting journalist who wants to educate and inform your audience. Taking a journalistic approach to your blog allows you to explore issues in depth, which also encourages customers to see you as a valuable resource. You can even write blog posts that take the opposite stance of everyone else in your industry – just to get customers to think differently about their challenges.

You can’t challenge your customers unless you know their biggest concerns, aspirations, needs and pain points. If you are unsure of these, you may need to speak with your sales representatives, since they are the ones who deal with your customers on a daily basis. Once you gain a better understanding of your customers, you should focus all of your content marketing around their needs.

Interactive tools can be a great way to engage your audience and get them to think more deeply about their challenges. These tools can be assessments, quizzes or anything else that gets your customers to interact with you.

Before you develop a strong voice that resonates with customers, you first may need to challenge your organization’s basic beliefs about marketing. Your organization may be stuck in a rut where you’ve been doing things a certain way just because “that’s the way it is done.” However, times are changing. Your customers no longer want the same old marketing messages delivered through the same old channels. You need to reach customers on a deeper level, and you can do this through content marketing that challenges, awes and inspires them.

What about you?

Do you feel that it is important to challenge your customers? Feel free to share your thoughts below.