By Garrett Moon
Think back to the last time you entered the cereal aisle at your local grocery store. Even if you've been a loyal Corn Flakes eater for the past 10 years, you probably ended up looking at a few other options before grabbing that trusty rooster-branded box. Perhaps Grape Nuts were on sale or Wheaties decided to put your favorite athlete on its packaging. Either way, though you knew exactly what brand of cereal you wanted to buy, several different boxes grabbed your attention and steered you off track.
Today's content-saturated world presents marketers with a similar scenario. For every article or video you toss to the world, there are thousands of others clamoring for consumers' limited attention. WordPress alone sees 79.2 million new blog posts every month, and YouTube publishes more than 400 hours of new video content every minute.
Making matters even more difficult is the fact that new content must contend with older content that already sits atop SEO rankings. Basically, to call the content marketing arena "crowded" and "daunting" would be an understatement. It's overflowing with material, and only the strongest, most innovative content will stand out.
Sing a Unique Song
You can’t just copycat the top Google result for your topic and assume you’ll wrestle that top spot away. For example, Moz has already created the quintessential beginner's guide to SEO. Providing the same exact advice in the same exact fashion would be a fool's errand.
Instead, you need to put your unique spin on a topic. Go above and beyond to create different, better, more valuable content than whatever is already floating through cyberspace. Also consider conveying your messages through mediums your competitors aren’t using. For example, if you operate within a whitepaper-heavy industry, start a video blog. Be the brand that deliberately goes against the grain in every possible area.
Rather than blend into the crowd, follow these three tips to ensure your content stands out:
- Provide proprietary insights. Compiling and presenting original data is a surefire way to create unique content. Survey your customers, uncover a trend, and share it publicly.
After analyzing more than 6.3 million social media posts, we at CoSchedule shared our findings in this article. To date, it has been one of our best-performing pieces of content. It has garnered tons of shares, earned us several backlinks, and even spurred us to create a popular social message optimizer tool.
It might take weeks or months to assemble your data and frame it into helpful pieces of content, but it will be well worth the effort.
- Share authentic, relatable stories. Tell helpful and entertaining stories in your content. Lift the curtain and get personal. Openly talk about embarrassing mistakes your company has made over the years, and help your readers avoid those same blunders. Or, on a more positive note, tell the world about your success stories. To see what a great success story looks like, read Groove’s piece about its journey from humble startup to thriving business.
Also, don't hesitate to get creative. Identify a fun simile or metaphor (such as "the cereal aisle") that paints your subject matter in a unique, relatable light. Beginning a piece of content with a bit of humor is a great way to engage readers.
- Show your audience the next step. Too many marketers dole out advice without actually teaching the audience how to put it into practice. Don’t be like them. Outline clear, actionable steps your audience can take to resolve a pain point.
Even if you’re covering well-trodden ground, your helpful next-step guidance could be the difference that propels your piece to the top of search engines. I call this the skyscraper technique, which is outlined in depth here.
Stop going along with the crowd. Be deliberately different in your message and your medium. Be helpful, tell stories, get personal, and, most importantly, have fun.
Creating unique content isn't easy. Frankly, it's a lot of work. But any extra elbow grease you put into your content strategy today will more than pay for itself tomorrow.