In Market Like You Mean It, marketing expert Al Lautenslager explains how you can engage your customers, create brand believers and gain fans for everything you sell. In this edited excerpt, the author explains how to use content marketing to attract your prospects and customers.

Social media has made powerful word-of-mouth marketing that much bigger, faster and more immediate. People can now influence each other more than ever, creating what's been called the biggest revolution to hit marketing since TV.

Now putting social media and marketing influence into overdrive is the whole field of content marketing. Fundamentally, content marketing dispenses content of all kinds, to all takers, all the time. Content can take any number of forms: social media posts, blogs, websites, articles, slideshows, webinars, podcasts, white papers, video, photos and more.

This staggering amount of content only adds to the barrage of marketing messages. With so much new and repurposed content, in so many forms, it's becoming easier to get lost in the content storm. So let's talk about how you can get noticed, remembered and talked about through content marketing.

Coming up with compelling content topics is the lifeblood of content marketing. Ask yourself, "What ideas can I generate that are related to helping others do something, think of something or have a new point of view? What ideas can I think of that will prevent mistakes, solve problems or share successes?" The flow of engaging, relevant ideas will keep the content that informs your content marketing program in strong form. Repurposing some of these ideas will create even more ideas. Getting ideas from target market members, including customers' and prospects' "pain points," is always a great start to content generation.

All the following ideas are content topics that come from reusing or reformatting one original article. That's the essence of repurposing content. Let's look at examples of the components involved in content repurposing, all generated from one original article called "10 Ways to Improve Sales in the Coming Year:"

  • Blog post. Take each of the 10 ways in the article and create a blog post for each.
  • Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Post links to each blog post on Twitter and Facebook.
  • SlideShare. Create a slideshow called "A Step-by-Step Process to Increasing Your Sales This Year."
  • Webinar. Using the slides from SlideShare and the content from the original article to develop and present a webinar: "Hot Sales Techniques You Can Implement Today."
  • Ebook. "Preventing These Selling Mistakes Will Improve Your Sales."
  • PDF download. "Sales Improvement Checklist."

In marketing, solutions are what people pay for. In the world of content, you should be providing information that's helping to answer the question, "What's in it for me, the prospect?" This means not only supplying content that's solution-oriented but content that helps readers avoid the pain they're experiencing from a particular problem or challenge.

The pain point is the burning need a customer or prospect has for something. They tend to be highly motivated to eliminate or alleviate this pain by accepting your solution. For example, imagine a bank offering a loan package that can be received with a signature on one page. This solves the pain point of signing so many documents at loan closing. If there's a benefit to what you're offering, then it answers the question of what's in it for the prospect. Content needs to talk to all of these to stand out and get noticed.

Nothing gets noticed more than communication from a friend or someone you know. In the world of marketing--whether that's content, social media or any other kind--you're very often noticed by the relationships you establish and maintain. Relationships are opportunities for engagement, and engagement gets noticed and spreads content.

For example, a restaurant can establish relationships with its customers in order to increase repeat visits. In the process, these relationships also increase loyalty. Smart restaurants make their websites and blogs a place for customers to find menu items, nutrition articles and dining tips. Visitors will come back to the site to learn from the content and feel more connected to the restaurant -- that there's a true relationship and they're more likely to not only remember the restaurant but tell their friends about it and return for another dining experience.

Graphics--design, images, logos, branding, colors, and more--get noticed more than words. Graphics are an opportunity to package content in a form that's different, stands out, is interesting and gets noticed. This includes the marketing vehicle that the content is contained in. Maybe your prospects prefer newsletters, blogs, websites and maybe even an offline marketing vehicle. Pictures, titles, headlines and subheadings are all part of the content packaging. Jetsetter, an online community of travelers that provides members with insider access, expert knowledge and exclusive deals on the world's greatest vacations, uses a very simple photographic display of vacation destinations to get click-throughs and site conversions.

There are certainly more ideas than this for content marketing, but these are essential. They'll help you stay on the right marketing track and get you noticed amid the marketing tsunami that's hitting right now in the form of content marketing.