How to Bring Fresh, Differentiated Perspectives to Well-Worn Content Marketing Topics
By Liz Alton on May 28, 2021
Finding fresh takes on content marketing topics is a common pain point for brands across industries. As brands realize the value of content marketing and publish more content every day, it's increasingly difficult to achieve one of the hallmarks of quality content: originality.
Whether you're struggling to differentiate your voice in the marketplace or gain deeper alignment with your audience, the right framework and strategies can help brand marketers cover well-worn topics in ways that are fresh, brand-aligned, and sharply differentiated.
First, Tackle Originality
In marketing and content marketing alike, authenticity has remained a buzzword for the past few years. Yet, while marketers have been able to hold more open conversations about challenges such as publishing at speed and scale, creating smooth content operations, and understanding audiences, the topic of originality is often still off-limits.
The hallmark of an innovator is having something original and insightful to say. Recently, I sat down with the CMO of a Fortune 500 business to talk about his content vision. He has audacious goals and is working to generate the demand his company needs to thrive. But just as we were wrapping up, he said, "My biggest concern is having something original to say. We've been publishing regularly for the last five years; some of our competitors publish twice as much as we do."
How, he asked, could a technology company targeting IT and business decision-makers generate a unique POV and find ingenuity within well-trodden content marketing topics?
Here are six creative approaches that can help you answer that question and find a fresh take on content.
1. Get Inside Your Audience's Head
"To find great ideas you should put yourself in the shoes of your buyer's persona and think like your customer," notes the Content Marketing Institute.
That starts with an effective audience intelligence program. Finding fresh takes often means digging through unexpected spaces to learn more about what your audience is thinking about today. The author suggests looking at job advertisements, taking part in company sales calls, following industry influencers on LinkedIn, and attending industry webinars.
What does that look like in practice? When one company was looking for unique ways to sell IT storage products to systems administrators, some job ad sleuthing quickly revealed how much time their key audience was spending migrating workloads. A bit more digging shed light on just how unpopular this task was. The effort gave way to a series of webinars, social copy, and articles, culminating in a content cluster that showcased a key advantage that this specific audience hadn't yet been exposed to.
2. Go Micro with Your Audience
Even within audience segments, there are microsegments. Finding ways to customize your content to these different groups can help you find new, high-impact content angles.
For example, when CIOs need to develop an infrastructure able to support a remote workforce, they have a different set of considerations than for CIOs creating a data center plan for unmanned remote locations—and when judging them as two separate audiences, the content targeted toward them should reflect that disparity.
Although both content streams may require the same components and even strategy, the considerations and success metrics are different. By dialing into the particulars of use cases, it's possible to develop perspectives that address each audience member's highest-priority concerns.
Image attribution: Brooke Cagle on Unsplash
3. Lean on Keyword Research and Performance Data
Many brands' approach to content is shaped by what has resonated in the past. But mindsets are constantly evolving—the customer journey shifted at lightning speed last year, notes McKinsey, as customers changed how they shop, the brands they choose, and what they purchase. Historical data and insights on what worked a year or even a month ago may not still be relevant.
For example, the past few months have seen a dramatic increase in interest for content around both storage solutions to support a long-term hybrid remote workforce and reinforcing business resiliency. Each of these speaks to challenges—and opportunities—for companies to focus on in the next year. From there, marketers can find a variety of new content angles framed with the post-COVID era in mind.
4. Find Opportunity in Social Data
Social media is more than just a channel to share your message. It can also be a source of dialogue about what's happening in your community and what your customers are thinking about today. By getting involved in these conversations, you can find opportunities to introduce your brand's unique take on the situations.
For example, when an IT storage company recently announced plans to sunset a key product, it caught many customers off guard. The content marketing partner mentioned above identified the opportunity to develop competitive content targeting those users and speaking directly to their concerns.
5. Find Innovation within Your Format
Sometimes, the opportunity to find a fresh take doesn't come from what you're discussing or even from your approach. Instead, there's room to innovate and find originality in the format itself.
For example, consumers looking into how to buy IT storage are typically doing so in long-form content that's dense and takes time to digest. This creates an opportunity to create a series of quick reference guides designed for social media or an interactive page leading customers through a journey to identify their most important purchasing needs.
Image attribution: Bruce Mars on Unsplash
6. Give Latitude to Your Brand Voice
Another place to find room for originality is in how you approach an overworn subject. Many brand voices in the market can begin to sound similar and feel like an echo chamber. Finding your point of differentiation can add a new and interesting angle to your content.
If your brand invests in original research, for example, you can thread that research through your content to center an authoritative and data-driven voice. The key is to identify the characteristics of your brand's voice that distinguish you from the rest of the market.
Finding fresh angles on well-explored content marketing topics is effort well spent. The topics that perform well over time do so because they resonate. To increase your ROI and identify new approaches that fit the current landscape, prioritize creativity and understanding—a little digging may reveal unique angles that you can make your own.
For more fresh perspectives on today's marketing trends, subscribe to our monthly newsletter, Content & Context.
Featured image attribution: Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash