Winning business requires gaining prospects’ attention and giving them a compelling reason to engage with your company. This is difficult when your content is bland and unoriginal, which is why so many experts advise you to make your content unique.
Brendan Dell, for example, advises, “Be different. A ton of content is competing for your buyer’s attention so it has to stand out.” Likewise, Penny Baldwin-French counsels, “Be engaging and above all pursue being different-unique.”
Nigel Hollis says marketing’s mission is to “make it meaningfully different.” The faster a brand comes to mind in relation to a specific need, explains Hollis, the more likely it is to be chosen, which is why marketing’s role is to create salient and meaningful experiences. In fact, he notes, brands that stand for something meaningful and different in customers’ minds can generate five times more purchases than less meaningful brands.
Dearth of Originality
Sadly, many companies lack the means or understanding to create distinctive content. As content marketing specialist J-P De Clerck laments, “Buyers are drowning in a tsunami of stupid, irrelevant and totally unoriginal content.”
De Clerck is right in pointing out there is a plethora of repetitive and regurgitated information posing as meaningful content. Being different, he contends, means providing information of value that helps a buyer understand the product category and make an informed decision.
Successful marketing requires captivating content that positions the brand favorably, but as many companies find out, there is no easy route to obtaining this. As J-P De Clerck notes, there are agencies popping up that will produce content “for a few dimes” but deliver mediocre results because they have nearly no understanding of the businesses they are writing about.
No Risk, No Gain
A big barrier to being different is a conservative mindset that is averse to taking risks. Seth Godin, who famously remarked that content marketing was the only marketing left, is a big proponent of being original and taking risks. Godin ridicules the “merchants of average” who play it safe and produce mediocre results. His formula for marketing success in the new economy is to create the extraordinary, take risks and do what matters. Progress doesn’t happen by sticking to best practices, he says, rather it happens when you createnew and better practices.
The paradox of playing it safe, as business experts point out, is that it can be riskier than taking risks. In “The Hidden Dangers of Playing It Safe,” Doug Sundheim describes how people naturally gravitate towards playing it safe because it feels better in the short term. However, Sundheim warns, the dangers of playing it safe are hidden, silent killers that can gradually erode an organization.
Likewise, In “Playing It Safe Is Riskier than You Think,” Fast Company co-founder Bill Taylor argues it is management’s job to overcome complacency, question all aspects of a business, and persuade colleagues at every level that “there are genuine risks in failing to take risks.”
To Stand Out, Tell a Story
The way to stand out, many experts agree, is to tell a compelling story about your company and brand. Brendan Dell, for example says “creating engaging and effective stories” is the single most important element of effective content marketing.
Likewise, Priyanka Prayal on Cision writes the key to successful digital marketing begins with a story well told. Starcom MediaVest also advises marketers to tell stories about your brand and deliver experiences that are valuable to the audience.
Patricia Redsicker offers content strategies for boring brands. The key, she says, is in the presentation, explaining that any product can be showcased in a way that is interesting, appealing or surprising. Every brand has a unique story about its origin, its people and its experience, says Redsicker. If your product does not generate excitement on its own, she suggests, create content that showcases your readers’ lifestyles, interests and passions instead.
Scott Aughtmon of the Content Marketing Institute offers some universal principles for creating content that resonates. To engage your audience, he says, create content that surprises, takes us on a journey, provides unexpected twists, challenges our assumptions, gives us a fresh point of view about common things, makes us laugh, makes us cry, inspires us to action and educates while entertaining.
Kelsey Libert of Fractl also offers some universal principles of engagement while revealing the secret of going viral. Put simply, she says, emotions drive almost all behavior. Your goal should be to capture the attention of viewers, and then engage them emotionally as quickly as possible. It is for this reason that visual, easy-to-understand and easy-to-consume content is generally the most effective, she says.
While many experts argue persuading an audience requires being informative, this applies mainly to more sophisticated products like cars, appliances and enterprise software. For some product categories, like soft drinks or candy, there really isn’t a lot of information to give the consumer, so marketers of these products rely on being entertaining, using humor, image and slogans. Still, a common thread is that winners grab your attention by being different.
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Photo Credit: Nina Matthews