Coming up with new content material concepts isn’t simple in as we speak’s content-saturated on-line world. But that’s not stunning when so many entrepreneurs compete to appeal to the identical viewers throughout the similar subject whereas drawing upon the identical info or info.
If your enterprise sells auto components, you may publish common articles on automobile upkeep. But what number of distinctive or authentic takes on 10 issues to test commonly in your automobile can there presumably be?
As it seems, this hasn’t stopped a whole bunch of such articles from being revealed, as evidenced in these Google search outcomes:
Other than maybe selecting a unique variety of issues to test, there isn’t an entire bunch of distinction between them. You can most likely guess most of this stuff with out studying the articles: tire strain, oil, water, spark plugs, and many others.
Why would somebody read any of those articles past the primary click on? What extra worth is gained from studying a number of variations of “check your tire pressure?”
Inside the auto components firm, a guidelines might sound to make sense as a part of its content material library. But past its web site, the content material is in an unattainable struggle to appeal to readers – battling for rank, armed with the identical key phrases and knowledge as so many others.
This isn’t content material advertising; it’s search engine optimization to the dying – the place the successful edge is more probably to be decided by every web page’s Core Web Vitals than the oh, so related content material.
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The (non-) artistic course of
Here’s why I feel this retains taking place.
A enterprise sells doohickeys, so the advertising workforce maps a collection of subjects associated to doohickeys and the issues they resolve. Every doable content material thought is dotted for every persona throughout the client journey, from consciousness to buy and past.
They make this week’s subject in regards to the widespread issues customers expertise with doodads as a result of understanding the restrictions of doodads is usually step one to deciding to improve to a fully-featured doohickey. The workforce checks the keyword list, jots down the primary few concepts that come to thoughts, and begins writing the briefs.
However, at this stage, the content material concepts are wholly undeveloped.
Anyway, the author is briefed with a title and a bunch of key phrases, so that they develop an easy construction and smash out 800 phrases. Time to inform the advertising assistant to lookup stock images of engaging girls smiling or trying thoughtfully at laptops whereas sitting in essentially the most impractical and/or uncomfortable locations doable. (Does anybody actually write their weblog posts on the steps?)
And that’s how the world will get one more weblog submit titled 5 Considerations Before You Buy a Doodad.
All the knowledge is correct, the transient’s necessities are met, and the writing is completely effective. It’s simply not authentic.
The course of has led the marketer, the transient, and finally the author to the identical fundamental and predictable content material as each different enterprise making an attempt to promote the identical issues to the identical viewers. Including their opponents.
Of course, not all entrepreneurs comply with this course of. I’m certain all of you studying this are brilliantly artistic. (Group hug.)
But I’m additionally certain I’m not alone in having come throughout many such production processes that – for one motive or one other – unintentionally cut back content material to a cookie-cutter commodity with little if any room for artistic improvement.
After all, that relentless week-in, week-out content material schedule can’t be placed on maintain whereas the artistic varieties stare out of home windows or take lengthy walks within the hope that inspiration will finally strike.
As it seems, that’s not how inspiration works in any respect.
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The creativity fantasy
Many of you realize the story of Archimedes – a shower, a splash, and a unadorned sprint shouting “Eureka.”
To be actual, Archimedes would have shouted, “Heureka,” Greek for “I have it.”
To be even more pedantic, Archimedes’ tub was probably a hip tub he would have stood in whereas a slave poured water over him – proving as soon as once more that the perfect concepts occur within the bathe. And in order for you to be utterly correct, the entire thing most likely never happened. But, hey, I’m making some extent right here.
True or not, the story of Archimedes within the tub has develop into a serious a part of the creativity fantasy, perpetuating the assumption that inspiration strikes out of nowhere. An thought out of the blue enters your head, and also you immediately comprehend it’s excellent. Eureka!
Except Archimedes’ nice thought wasn’t a sudden or random revelation in any respect, however the fruits of a collection of occasions and lots of mind pressure. According to the story, Archimedes was consumed with fixing how to calculate the amount of the king’s ornate new gold crown with out melting it down. I’ll go away the whys and wherefores of offended kings and golden crowns to your particular person Google abilities should you’re curious.
The level is Archimedes was desperately looking for a way to measure the amount of advanced objects. He had already been pondering hypotheses lengthy earlier than he stepped into his apocryphal tub. Otherwise, he would most likely have missed the importance of the water spilling out of the tub totally – simply as he had each earlier tub time.
The story of Archimedes reveals creativity isn’t a supernatural burst of inspiration however a mind-set that we will all apply. Creativity isn’t born of a single thought or remark however of colliding trains of thought, of the identified assembly the brand new, of connections between seemingly unrelated issues, and – importantly – of actively searching for them.
And meaning any of us might be more artistic when making an attempt to provide you with authentic concepts for our content material.
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Finding the angle
In On Writing, Stephen King writes:
[G]ood story concepts appear to come fairly actually from nowhere: Two beforehand unrelated concepts come collectively and make one thing new. Your job isn’t to discover these new concepts however to acknowledge them once they present up.
A haunted lodge is one thought – one we’ve most likely seen many occasions. A younger little one with supernatural powers is one other not notably authentic thought. Bring collectively these two concepts, and you’ve got The Shining.
His recommendation doesn’t apply solely to bestselling horror novels. The collision of two concepts is an enormous a part of what makes some content material recent and authentic, even when it might be treading acquainted floor.
A second thought can provide your content material an uncommon or memorable theme, maybe a central metaphor that evokes a a lot more artistic method. Or it may sort out the subject from a stunning and strange perspective, inserting the knowledge in a unique context or inflicting the viewers to assess and think about the identical info in a brand new approach.
In quick, the second thought is what helps the content material to stand out. The second thought gives the angle that makes your content material distinctive.
Want an instance of this in motion?
Back after I nonetheless ran content material advertising workshops (rattling you, COVID), the actions would information attendees by the creation of personas, the choice of subjects and themes, and the mapping of buyer journeys. From there, they might then extrapolate a handful of content material concepts.
At this level, the perfect concepts within the room had been unlikely to be that totally different from these revealed by any competitor focusing on the identical personas with the identical info on a journey to an identical product. So, the following exercise was to provide you with a second thought to give the primary one a unique approach or recent perspective.
One of my favourite pitches to come out of this exercise was from an company marketer working with a veterinary prescription drugs firm specializing in livestock vaccinations. The subject was preventative take care of horses, with the preliminary thought being a guidelines for house owners to comply with, which, I feel you’ll agree, isn’t one million miles from 10 Things to Check on Your Car.
After growing the concept additional, he determined to convey the knowledge from the viewpoint of the horse. The guidelines was changed by a web-based diary that may give the horse a possibility to inform its aspect of the story. The content material would assist house owners perceive how numerous medical circumstances impression a horse past the seen signs. Plus, it might exhibit how the circumstances develop even earlier than they could develop into apparent to an proprietor.
Each entry would give attention to a unique symptom or facet of the horse’s medical experiences – thereby answering more detailed or particular questions a horse proprietor may need. Plus, every of those would additionally create more longtail key phrase alternatives, so SEO wins too.
The great thing about this concept was that it positioned the horse, not the medical situation, on the coronary heart of the content material. The inexplicably literate horse can be introduced as a dwelling, considering factor, able to feeling ache and discomfort, concern and confusion simply as we’d – fostering larger empathy and understanding between house owners and their horses.
The workshop attendee was visibly excited. Sure, more considering was wanted to flip the concept right into a concrete proposal, not to point out shopper pitches, funds discussions, and so forth. But the artistic course of was off and operating.
Never cease on the first thought
The key’s figuring out your first thought is probably going everybody else’s first thought too. It comes to thoughts rapidly exactly as a result of it’s acquainted, which is precisely how cliché works.
A great artistic course of acknowledges this. A great artistic course of takes that first thought and asks, “What can I add to this?” A great artistic course of formalizes the seek for a second thought to discover a new approach of trying on the first.
It’s why my very own briefing templates embrace house for each concepts:
- Core subject – what the content material is about.
- Angle or theme – what is going to present a brand new or sudden perspective on the subject.
I can’t simply put down “10 Things To Check on Your Car.” I want to present one thing more. I want to consider one thing more.
Sometimes, the reply could also be so simple as combining two existing-but-obvious concepts. That one about getting more worth out of your doodad might be mixed with that one about widespread errors with doohickeys to develop into a brand new piece about how your doodad can enhance your doohickey. Or one thing.
Other occasions, out-of-the-box considering could also be required to discover much less apparent connections with very totally different subjects.
If you’ve read lots of my articles, you’ll have seen sure themes hold cropping up: historic Greeks, literary quotations, kids’s fantasies, myths, and legends. And that’s as a result of I read lots of them. I even have a small set of books that by no means go away my desk: Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable (each author ought to personal this IMHO) and three quotations dictionaries: The Penguin Dictionary of Quotations, The New Penguin Dictionary of Modern Quotations, and the Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations.
If I’m caught for an angle, I lookup associated key phrases in these books. A Douglas Adams quote may recommend an attention-grabbing theme or an outdated piece of folklore may give me a enjoyable approach to clarify a brand new piece of tech.
You get the concept.
Or ought to that be concepts? After all, you’re going to want two.
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Cover picture by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute