I’m not going to tell you the things you always hear from content marketers. Those tried and true lessons like, “focus on your customer” and “tell a story.” Instead, I’m going to give you five tips that, at first, you may not believe will work. These tips sound outrageous, but they’re not. What they are is radically different from the status quo.

If you want to stand out, get above the noise, and create truly awesome content, keep reading.

1. Don’t focus on your customer.

That’s right, you heard me. In the channel, as in much of B2B marketing, we focus on our customer or partner. We create content that speaks to their pain points—profitability, customer retention, service issues. Yawn.

Instead, go beyond your customer and look at the end use of your product.

Check out how SAP follows the story of its solutions out of the channel and into the real world. From protecting endangered elephants and rhinos to saving lives on construction sites in Qatar — SAP knows that to really inspire engagement, you’ve got to tell an engaging story.

2. Write for the masses.

The channel doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but we sometimes treat it that way. Refusing to look beyond the channel implications when discussing topics like IoT, Alternate Reality or cybersecurity limits the stories we are able to tell and the potential reach of our content.

Technology affects all of us, so write for everyone.

For example, cybersecurity specialist VIPRE creates and shares on its blog fascinating articles about how to protect yourself, and your small business, from cyberattack. Which means literally anyone who owns a smartphone or uses the Internet can (and probably should) be reading it. That makes VIPRE’s content more likely to be shared again and again.

Because VIPRE sells direct to consumers as well as participates in channel programs, this kind of content pulls double-duty. It informs direct customers, and it also provides content its partners can use to inform and engage customers.

Whatever part of the IT industry your company specializes in—cybersecurity, healthcare billing, talent management—there are topics beyond the scope of the channel and people who care about them. Don’t be afraid to talk to the masses in order to build your reputation as a true thought leader in the industry.

3. Get personal.

This may come as a surprise, but people make up companies. And people have interests, hobbies, histories and quirks. You have them, and so do your customers.

Show a little personality and share a personal anecdote or interesting detail about yourself when creating your thought leadership content. For example, I love all things nerd-culture, and I never miss the opportunity to make a reference to IT Crowd, Silicon Valley or Star Wars.

And your company has a personality, too. Nobody does company personality better than Datto. I’ve shared other Datto examples before, and luckily they just keep creating new ones. How about an infographic asking MSPs if they’re Team Star Trek or Team Star Wars? You’re welcome.

4. Take a stand.

The world of technology changes fast, and technology changes the world we live in just as quickly. Consumers and your partners are trying to find credible insight from an expert. They are hungry for someone to trust who can help them understand the potential rewards and risks of each new situation.

Voicing an opinion takes guts. Opinions are scary things, especially in business. If you’re on the wrong side of one, you could end up looking foolish or potentially losing a deal.

But, if done correctly, the reward is a level of customer trust unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

That doesn’t mean you come out and blast your political opinions all over your company’s social media. (Seriously, please don’t do that.) But, you can approach a controversial issue from the vantage point of your expertise and industry knowledge in order to offer an in-depth analysis and opinion on a situation.

Look at how GTDC CEO Tim Currant did just that in his LinkedIn article about the global supply chain, China, and our current administration’s desire to bring back jobs outsourced overseas. He is clear, firm, but diplomatic and—most important—speaking from an informed, apolitical place.

Another great example comes from VIPRE again and its article praising the U.S. Business Chamber’s recent actions to support initiatives combating cyberattack on small businesses.

5. Talk to your community.

Shocking, right? I know, it sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many of us write content, share it, and then never respond to comments. Any content, but especially items that that voice an opinion or references politics or current events, are fertile ground for lively debate.

  • Don’t hide from it. Engage in it, but follow a few best practices for engaging on sensitive subjects.
  • State your purpose. Make sure your community knows you’re not there to be a political pundit. The mission of this content is to share information and analyses based on your expertise.
  • Avoid a rant. Ask questions and listen to responses.
  • Don’t feed the trolls. If someone is there just to be negative, it’s okay to block them. Do so publicly and let the community know that behavior will not be tolerated.

Are you brave enough to create content that tells amazing, impactful stories, reveals a little bit of yourself and your company, offers an opinion and is accessible to the entire world? And if you do, will you join the conversation that your content started? I hope so. I can’t wait to see what you do!