The most killer content marketing strategies lay at the intersection of what your potential customers are already interested in and your business' area of expertise. And in a generation that watches comedy talk shows to get their news, you'd better make it entertaining!

As I type this, countless startup employees are spinning their wheels on ineffective content marketing efforts, centered around the good old company blog. They fill said blog with organizational news and sensationalized verbiage about how awesome their service is, thinking the unbiased reader will be enamored. Unless the reader is the CEO's mom, this will not be the case.

To top it off, their social media posts are entirely filled the same self congratulatory messaging and the whole strategy a bust.

It's an understandable mistake to take the above approach! When you're an unknown, you have to be your own cheerleader. But you have to be stealthy about it. In order to generate (again, unbiased) interest, you must tap into the conversations your target customers are having and let that guide your content marketing.

Here's an example.

When you watched the Super Bowl this year, you might have just about melted when you saw those adorable Pantene commercials featuring DeAngelo Williams braiding his daughter's hair. Seriously, cute overload. But as it turns out, NFL players aren't the only guys learning how to use a brush and barrettes; dads all over the country are turning into personal stylists.

Last July, salon owner and creator of SoCozy children's hair care products, Cozy Friedman, noticed this new trend. "I love talking with my clients and the conversation often revolves around detangling and lice. But this summer I started to see a new trend: it was the dads asking me questions, or, mom was asking me to show her husband-there had become a shift in topic."

In order to accommodate her customers, she created "Real Men Braid," a crash course class for dads to learn the ancient art of ponytails, braids, buns, and other popular styles-giving them both mad skills and bonding time with their daughters.

Each class takes the dad and his daughter through a hair care 101 checklist, covering subjects like the best way to detangle and how to hold a brush. Depending on the skill level in the room, they might learn how to do a basic ponytail or if they're a little more advanced, how to braid. At the end of class, each daddy receives a fancy diploma and a Styling Power Tools Kit, which is a kit of key products for achieving all styles covered.

Cozy's first class was completely sold out, so she and her team created more to meet the demand. Soon there were classes all over the country and the program received a slew of media attention, including a full-page feature in The NY Times Styles Section, CBS This Morning, Today.com, Cosmopolitan, New York Magazine and countless on-line coverage.

As a nimble startup, SoCozy has had the ability to strike while the iron is hot, fast-tracking content creation, marketing initiatives and product development to leverage "Real Men Braid" into extensive brand growth. After initial media coverage, the trend went viral, resulting in over 200 million media impressions and counting. To capitalize on this attention, the brand immediately created a retail Power Tools Styling Kit that evolved from the products used in the classes. SoCozy also continues to expand the robust library of "how-to" styling videos as a supplementary education tool for those taking the classes, and an added resource for consumers nationwide. "Real Men Braid" created widespread awareness for SoCozy, and as awareness grows, so does sales.

Cozy's story highlights the power of listening to one's customers and creating a content marketing engine around the topics that are most important to them. You may not see customers in a brick and mortar location like Cozy did, but that's what we have the internet for! The beautiful thing about social media is that it has given everyone a voice; with that comes the ability to either join the global conversation or start your own. Checkout those conversations and let them be your roadmap as you develop your own badass content marketing plan.