The following is the first article in the series, "Content Marketing Like the Big Brands," in which marketing master Jim Joseph discusses ways that small to medium businesses can create compelling content for their customers to generate breakthrough business results.

You can’t run through a news feed or flip through a trade magazine without seeing the words “content marketing.” It’s the buzz du jour in marketing, and every brand is trying to figure it out, learn how to do it and determine how to do it better. The problem is that I’m not sure some even know what it is!

Ironically, though, I’m not sure how new it all is to be honest. I’m not sure that we haven’t been doing content marketing all along, just not calling it by that name.

Related: 5 Tricks to Producing Quality Content

Content marketing is basically adding value to your customers’ lives by giving them something that helps them beyond just the product you sell. Rather than spending all your marketing efforts touting your products, you provide valuable information instead. You market what your brand can do for them, above just product features. You market real, valuable information instead.

While content has certainly been around a long time, it has taken on a new form as of late, particularly with the advent of social media. It’s a lot easier to provide deeper information now that it can be digitized and tweeted all throughout the day. We are no longer constrained by the format of a print brochure and the long production cycles that come with it.

But years ago when I first started in marketing at Johnson’s Baby Products, we were doing content marketing then as well. We were supplying new moms with information on how to care for their babies, above and beyond the shampoo, lotion and powder we were selling to them. When websites came along, it got even easier to distribute that information in more depth. Now we’ve got multimedia channels that give us the opportunity to talk with moms (and dads) on their terms, when they need us and how they need us.

Related: A Stellar Content Plan Can Lead to Business Success

Content marketing shouldn’t be just for the big brands though. Entrepreneurs and small business owners have an even greater opportunity to provide meaningful information, advice and counsel to their customers -- perhaps in a deeper and more engaging way because you are even closer to them. 

So I am writing a new series of articles here at Entrepreneur.com that will examine just how small business owners can attack the content marketing challenge, and take what is hot for the big brands and make it impactful for the small ones too.

We will take a look at examples such as Coca-Cola, which just recently relaunched a “content” website dedicated to helping their consumers, less about the Coca-Cola products and more about living a Coca-Cola happy life. It’s a content marketing machine that seeks to engage their consumers in ways that will fulfill them, getting them to share with their friends and followers all along the way. It’s content marketing at its finest, on a very big scale.

I’m not implying that small businesses can take it to that level, but there’s a lot to learn that can be reapplied using the resources of small business. After all, marketing is a spectator sport and we can learn from the big brands as they set the stage.

I hope you follow along on this content marketing journey and can apply the thinking to your business.

Related: Becoming the 'Benchmark' Brand Everyone Covets