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updated 5/1/2014 3:16:58 PM ET 2014-05-01T19:16:58

The following is the eighth 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.

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There’s been an interesting development in brand marketing over the years that has changed the focus on how we interact with our customers, leading to what is now called “content marketing.”

Back in the day, marketing was all about getting our customers to pay attention to our brand. We would develop advertising, create collateral material and even build websites so that we could get noticed. When a customer absorbed our brand information, it was a win, one that, if all goes well, led to a sale.

Related: The 7 Secrets to Shareable Content

As our marketing-techniques vehicles evolved, it then became important to establish a dialogue with our customers. Engaging in a conversation was the goal, because that meant you were getting in deeper with your customers. Hopefully, you were getting in much deeper than your competition. Getting noticed was no longer enough, now you had to engage in order to generate a sale.

Content marketing is once again taking our marketing to another level, with the goal of going beyond getting noticed or creating a dialogue, to the goal of getting shared. Effective content marketing is designed to be shared, taking your brand efforts far beyond just a one-on-one dialogue with your customers.

By creating content that is meant for sharing, we are gaining access to the customer’s network. There is no better marketing than an endorsement from a family member, friend, colleague, etc., which is why when developing content you must have sharing in mind.

So what do you do to make content shareable?

Make it valuable. First of all, the content you create must provide your customers with some real tangible value. Entertainment (a good cry or a hearty laugh), new information (an “aha” moment, if you will), or a different perspective ("never thought about it that way") -- whatever the value, your content must do something.

Related: These Are the Types of Posts People Share the Most on Facebook

Make it transmittable. Your content should also be in a format that’s easy to pass along. If it’s too unwieldy or cumbersome to forward, then it won’t be shared. Make it a piece of cake to share, and your customers will bite.

Make it easily editorialized. Finally, when people share, they also like to include their personal opinions. So when creating content, make sure your customers can add their own slant to your point of view as well. If your content makes them cry or educates them, they will want to share that experience!

Look at what Pantene has done lately. The brand has made a habit out of being a social-media fixture during big pop-culture moments on television, The Golden Globes and The Academy Awards are two examples. Pantene has been actively commenting on celebrity hairstyles and providing content on how to copy the look. The content is valuable, shareable and commentable via the #IWantThatHair hashtag -- making it all a perfect part of the brand’s integrated marketing plan, in synch with what’s going on in pop culture and with women’s emotions about beauty and fashion.

Sure, Pantene is a huge brand with more resources than most small businesses. But you can still take a page from the Pantene content-marketing playbook, and get inspired to create content that is equally as valuable and commentable. Your customer will be sharing your brand in the process.

Related: The 3 C's of Content Marketing

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