It was chilly this morning at the train station and the scheduling board showed that my train was 15 minutes late. No wait, make that 17 now. But you know what, it wasn’t that bad today because there was a guy running for state representative handing out muffins to everyone on the platform. Although my stance on most of the issues didn’t align with his ideas, he actually got me to look him up on my phone and reconsider how I planned to vote.

This is what your content marketing should do for you. It should be exactly like handing out muffins to influence strangers at a train station. Here are the three things the candidate did right that you can apply today:

1. He provided something valuable.

He didn’t just walk up to me and start talking about his platform, which would have been a huge turnoff that sent me running for the hills. Instead, he had a nice selection of breakfasty items that got my stomach growling. He also reached everyone at the exact right moment, just as tempers were flaring and patience was waning as we waited for the forever-late train.

Lesson for content marketing: Don’t ask someone to marry you on the first date. Provide your prospects with something valuable that will actually help them do their jobs better. Be helpful first before asking them to do something for you.

2. He listened to me.

After I selected my muffin, he asked me a little about myself. Where do you work, what do you do there, where’d you go to school? We discovered a common connection (he taught at my wife’s high school back in the day). It instantly made him more human and likeable, more than any robo-call or flyer in my mailbox ever could.

Lesson for content marketing: We all talk about listening to our customers, but how many of us actually do it? You need to listen both quantitatively and qualitatively. The quantitative part is relatively easy: Collect the numbers, analyze them, and see what’s working. The qualitative part is an art. You’ll need to figure out ways to interact with customers on a one-on-one basis, understand them, and then implement what you learn.

3. He closed the right way.

His call-to-action was brilliant. After thanking me for chatting with him, has asked me to check out his platform and consider voting for him. That was it. No hard sell or arguments, which was a refreshing change of pace from what’s been going on this election cycle. He seemed kind and gentle, the kind of guy who would have your best interest at heart – and that was a significant differentiator. As a result, I visited his website.

Lesson for content marketing: When asking your prospects and customers to take the next step with you, do it in a way that aligns with your brand. Of course you want to draw attention to your call-to-action, but promising something you can’t deliver will hurt you. Don’t you hate those marketing sites that lead you down a path to the “one thing that will change the way you do everything” only to send you to some half-baked, two-paragraph long “whitepaper”? Don’t be that guy. Shoddy content will only hurt you. Better to under-promise and over-deliver.

Keep these lessons in mind. They’ll help you create content that provides real value for your prospects, helps (not hurts) your brand, and may even get them to reconsider their next purchase. And if you’re giving out muffins, make mine chocolate chip, please.