The following is the sixth 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.

It’s one thing to create content, it’s another to get it consumed.

It’s mind boggling to think about the number of choices that customers are forced to navigate each day and the number of brands constantly pumping out content directed at them. It’s amazing that any of it gets noticed, let alone consumed, absorbed and shared. To break through the clutter and actually engage with a customer, you need to put your customer at the center of your content-marketing development, which entails having a deep understanding of what’s important to them.

Generating brand content that doesn’t somehow solve a customer need is content that will flow into cyberspace without anyone absorbing it: That’s a huge waste of effort and a missed opportunity.

On the other hand, content that is uniquely tailored for the customer and fills a gap in their life is information that will add value, and they will reward you for it.

This can only come from truly knowing your customer on a personal level. Your goal should be to know your customer better than any of your competitors, meaning you need to build a deeper and more meaningful connection. This deep knowledge will generate results.

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

I remember when I first started marketing at Johnson & Johnson consumer products.  My first assignment was on Johnson’s baby products line.  At that point in my life, I had never even held a baby before.  How on earth could I market to a new mom when I had no idea how she spent her days? Well, I had to figure it out.

I set out on a mission to get to know what it was like to have a newborn baby.  I read What To Expect When You’re Expecting cover to cover, went to friends’ houses to change diapers and even shadowed a third-trimester doctor’s visit.  If I was ever going to create an advertising campaign to sell baby wash, I felt like I really needed to know what it was like to give a baby a bath, slippery hands and all.

Related: What Gives Entrepreneurs a Content Marketing Edge?

Today, it’s even more complicated with the complexity in which we live our lives and consume media.  Johnson’s baby products now provide a wealth of “content” to expectant and new moms (and dads) to help them prepare for what’s ahead, providing products and services every step of the way.  The brand creates a wide range of information beyond just the products it sells, because they know how insecure new parents feel and they understand the emotional roller coaster that comes from having a baby.  The brand does everything it can to help -- going above and beyond lotions, powders, washes and shampoos.

You should follow a similar approach for your brand, regardless of the business and customer base.  Get to know what makes your customer tick and what keeps them at the edge of their seats.  Sit right next to them and give them information that brings clarity to their marketing challenges.

It’s also important to choose media channels for your content where your customer lives and posts.  Part of understanding your customer is understanding where to reach them as well, and where they are likely to share your content with those in their network -- people that could become new customers.

Knowing your customer so well that you know how to engage them as well as where to reach them will propel your content marketing into a plan that will advance your business.  As a small-business owner, you probably know many of them by name.  Since you are an arm’s length away from them, use that as an opportunity to serve up content that you know will help them.  Keep them at the center of all your marketing.

Advancing your customer’s lives will in fact advance your business.

Related: Let Your Brand Lead Your Content Marketing Efforts