Content marketing is currently seeing a huge surge in popularity as 24% of organizations now devote 50% or more of their budget to content creation, according to Contently.
As more and more businesses grow their content marketing programs, the focus is no longer simply on creating content, but on ensuring that content is engaging the target audience. In 2014, B2B marketers stated that creating more engaging content was their top initiative, according to the Content Marketing Institute.
With more content being created, many businesses struggle to ensure that content does not lose its creativity under the burden of a tightly packed publishing schedule. In the words of Edward de Buno, “Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.” Therefore instead of repeating the same ideas, businesses should work to develop diversity within their content creation.
Keep topics fresh
A recent survey from Social Media Examiner found that 81% of content strategists are expected to focus more heavily on creating original content in the next year, rather than deploying curated or repurposed content. With that said, creating new content is not an easy venture. One of the toughest parts of developing new content is simply formulating new ideas.
In order to create new topic ideas, one of the easiest places for businesses to begin is to evaluate audience interests by posing questions most likely to be searched for by the audience.
For instance, an automotive company could pose the question: How can car owners properly maintain their car in-between maintenance checks? Once a question is developed, content topics can be created with the intention of answering the question for the consumer. This ensures that content engages the consumer by acting as a reference for anyone who has this question.
After a topic is determined, many businesses dive straight into creating content. Unfortunately, this is not the most effective way to develop content. While a topic is a good start, a topic can be spun in a million different ways. In order to truly start developing engaging content, the direction of the piece must be clearly determined in addition to the topic. An easy way to navigate the direction of a topic is to start by writing a working title.
Many companies perceive the topic and title as interchangeable, but there is a huge difference between the two. A topic is a generality, or overarching idea, while a title focuses on a specific sub-section within the topic area.
A title guides the overall direction of the content. Looking back at the question posed for the automotive company, the topic yields many possibilities. Some working titles could include: How to know when your car is in need of a maintenance check or, 5 mistakes people make between car checkups.
Lastly, when creating content, it is essential to stay up-to-date on current trends. By staying aware of trending issues and including those topics within a content strategy, businesses can stay in tune with the audience’s evolving interests.
Transforming old ideas into new content
While creating new ideas is vital to any content marketing strategy, it is not to say that ideas cannot be inspired by previously created content. The key is to identify types of content that can be leveraged into a new piece.
As Steve Jobs said, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things.”
Chances are a new topic idea has been staring you in the face as new ideas can stem from old ones. For example, a previously created ebook could inspire a blog article or infographic or vice versa. Looking through old content can shed light on new content ideas.
Tip: Sort through old content and spend time brainstorming about how new topics could stem from old ones. Hidden in an old piece of content, there could be a creative new topic.
Use adjectives to turn one idea into many
In addition to finding new topics in old content, businesses can also turn one idea into multiple topics by simply changing one word or adjective in the title. By changing a simple word the entire topic scope can change.
HubSpot and BuzzFeed excel at multiplying their topics with this strategy. For example, HubSpot takes a topic such as “15 Social Media Tips” and extends the concept into more topics such as “15 Pinterest Tips”, “15 Facebook Tips” or “15 Facebook Company Page Tips”. By changing one word, an entire new topic idea is created.
Jacobs & Clevenger utilizes a similar strategy for some of our client work. For example, content developed for Pacific Gas and Electric Company covers a variety of categories from energy management to financing, sustainability and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).
For each category, we create multiple content pieces by building off of a general concept. The team developed an ebook called "The Complete Guide to Working with a Lighting or HVAC Contractor." Stemming from this piece of content, blog articles were created such as “5 Questions to Answer Before Selecting an HVAC Contractor” and “How to Evaluate and Compare Commercial Contractors for an HVAC Project.” While all of these pieces focused on HVAC contractors, changing a few words resulted in several different content pieces.
Tip: After you create one idea, try substituting different words or adjectives into the title to see what new ideas could stem from this topic.
Get creative with the headline
According to Statistics Brain Research Institute, the average person’s attention span is currently 8.25 seconds long. This means businesses have less than 10 seconds to gain the audience’s attention before they move onto new content. As the headline is the first element of content a reader generally sees, incorporating an enticing headline is vital to the success of any piece of content.
Platforms such as BuzzFeed and Upworthy have mastered the art of an eye-catching headline. The key is to test out multiple headline options. BuzzFeed and Upworthy say they often create 25 or more headlines before selecting one for publication. Even David Ogilvy was known for writing hundreds of headlines for one advertisement.
Therefore when writing a headline, never settle for the first idea. An easy brainstorming tip is to simply sit down and write headline options for 15 minutes straight without any distractions. While all of the options won’t be a work of art, this is a great way to get ideas flowing free of distractions.
While the average person’s attention span is sadly diminishing, there are still ways to work around this. According to research from 3M Corporation and Zabisco, 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. Therefore, implementing visuals within content can be a great way to grab the viewers’ attention.
Utilizing content such as infographics, memes, posters, photos and videos can significantly improve content marketing strategies as visual content has been proven to generate up to 94% more views, according to MDG Advertising.
Developing creative, interesting content is essential to a successful content marketing strategy. As Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun” so when in doubt make sure you are having fun with your content. To learn more about quality content creation, please download our free ebook, “22 Great Types of Content Marketing.”