The following is the fourth 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.

Content marketing requires a brand to take a step away from its product offering and focus a lot more on the customer. Where more traditional marketing may have touted product features and benefits, content marketing promotes the lifestyle that comes along with being a part of the brand, from the customer’s perspective.

Developing good content, however, requires a very deep understanding of the brand’s customers and how they are living their lives. To give information that adds value, you need to know what customers need. You need to know their hopes, dreams, fears and how they go about their day-to-day lives. You have to be close to them.

Related: The 5 Brilliant Strategies You Can Learn From Top Content Marketers

Which is why content marketing makes so much sense for entrepreneurs and small business. You’ve got the potential to be so much closer to your customer than the big brands. You’re living in the community with your customers, in many cases right along side them. You are often deep into their business with them, helping them tackle the challenges that keep them up at night. You know them by name, not just by number.

I recently saw an amazing example from Wells Fargo that captures this essence -- a perfect example of a big brand that is getting content marketing right. It’s a website called “Wells Fargo Stories,” and it is positioned as “an online journal of working together.” In it, the brand features people and businesses that are successfully reaching their goals, many of them small businesses and entrepreneurs. 

The brand is using these real-life stories as rich content to inspire others to do the same, with Wells Fargo as a financial partner. The brand is present in this content for sure, but it’s not about the brand -- it’s about its customers and their struggles, goals and hard work. Once you start reading these stories, you can’t stop! This is content marketing that engages and motivates, coming from a brand that can help.

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Now the only way that Wells Fargo could feature these stories is if they really know what’s going on in their customers’ lives. There’s no reason why you can’t do the same, as you probably know many of your customers on a first-name basis. Talk to them!

Find out what’s going on in your customers’ lives and dig in. Listen to their stories to get clues to what kind of content you can produce that will engage and motivate them, just like the stories that Wells Fargo features in its online journal.

You have the luxury and the benefit of being very close to your customers, so use the opportunity to learn from them. This is exactly why content marketing makes so much sense for small businesses -- you know your customers better than anyone else.

Related: Good Content Marketing Starts With Knowing Your Customers