Small businesses have a lot to say… especially when it comes to talking about their business.

Whether it’s an experience with a customer, excitement over a new product or service, or just a great moment in their day – they are never at a loss for words.

But did you know the things you talk about when someone asks you about your business can also be a great source of inspiration when it comes to finding content for your email newsletter?

That’s what I learned when I sat down with Azure Collier, education developer at Constant Contact, to find out her advice for small businesses struggling with content ideas.

Read what she had to say in this week’s Ask an Expert.

What advice do you have for small businesses that are having trouble coming up with content ideas for their email newsletter?

One thing that we tell small business owners is to not think too hard about it. You have a lot going on during the day, and it might not all seem interesting to you, but it’s interesting to your customer. Step outside a little bit and think about what you would talk about with someone if they asked you about your business. You’d tell them the customer stories, you’d tell them the fun conversations you have with people, you would tell how you helped to make somebody successful, or about your knowledge of the industry. All of these things that are going on each day can be used as content for your email newsletter or social media.

It can be helpful to just keep a notepad at your desk, so at different periods of the day, if something interesting happens, write it down and you can revisit it later.

Where can small business look for inspiration or ideas of content to include in their newsletter?

Again, the day-to-day things that are going on, but also remember your customers. People learn best from other people and if you can tell the story about how you helped somebody, a new customer can look at that and think “Wow that could be me. They can help me because that’s exactly my story.”

So the people you help are great inspiration, but so are the people you work with – colleagues in your industry. Look at blog posts they’ve done – offer to post their stuff on your site or your newsletter or social media networks. In return, they might offer to have you write something for them, which is great exposure for both of you.

And finally, ask your customers what they want. A lot of people just forget to ask. I see this all the time – I follow a lot of our customer’s newsletters and social media. We talk about these guys a lot, but Boloco (who really does things the right way) just had a post on Facebook the other day that said, “hey we want to know what kind of discount to offer our club members. Would you guys like a free meal every $50 you spend or would you just like 10% off for life?” It was interesting to see what people said because you never know until you ask them what they want from you.

Are there any content mistakes that small businesses need to watch out for?

Selling too much is a big mistake. The rule of thumb in marketing is to do 80% educational and 20% promotional. I think it should be more like educational and entertainment. People want entertainment, they want education, and they want value. Give them that in your newsletter.

You can sell with it too, just without being pushy about it. You can do something like a customer video, which will educate people on what you do and your expertise. It will sell you and your product without coming out and saying to buy. It’s more showing than telling.

What topics would you like to ask our experts? Tell us in the comments below!