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The phrase “content is king” has been around for years, but it still holds true: Your content is what drives your business’ value. Good content can help a company build its brand and client base—if it engages the audience. So how can you make sure you stand out?
To help you, we asked the members of Forbes Agency Council for their recommendations for generating content ideas that differentiate you from your competitors, especially in a saturated market. Their best tips are below.
1. Use Your Real Story
Your story is unique. It’s why customers engage with you, follow you and want to buy from you. You should always use parts of your real, truthful story to drive new ideas for content. People won’t fall for the glitz and glam forever, and when it’s over, so are you. So make sure you show your values and brand personality, and tell the real story in your content. – Jonathan Forrester, emmersion
2. Don’t Be Afraid To Experiment
Don’t be afraid to go outside the box. Too many companies focus on being perfect, instead of getting started. Experiment and execute! You’ll be surprised how effective this can be. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Focus on being yourself, and get your content out. Marketing is about creating and executing. – Jose Aristimuno, NOW STRATEGIES MEDIA GROUP
3. Narrow Your Target Market
You have to understand your competitors and narrow your target market. When you specialize in a specific target niche, you end up being the best, and that’s what would differentiate you from others. Focus on a target and always think creatively by solving problems and knowing how to stand out. – Cagan Sean Yuksel, GRAFX CO.
4. Leverage Different Content Types
Engagement rates on audio/video content are through the roof. It’s not difficult to conceive of simple series that can be captured on video or via a podcast format as the primary medium—and then transcribed to create supporting text-based blog posts. The more keyword density you have with specific topics in your subject area, the better your site will rank on search and within social channels. – Megan Cunningham, Magnet Media Inc.
5. Cover A Larger Topic In Bite-Size ‘Chunks’
You can write a piece of content covering the same topic as another site while making your piece more engaging. This can be done through the use of better formatting, and “chunking” the content into bite-size pieces, which can be easily scanned using the “squint” test. If a reader can’t get the gist of an article within a four-second scroll by scanning subheadings, they will bounce or leave. – Zamir Javer, Jumpfactor
6. Decide What ‘Quality’ Means To You
The deluge of “up-the-nose” bad cellphone videos pouring onto the business pages and social media is frightening, yet is showing to be better than nothing. If you want to set yourself apart from your competitor, care about the quality of your content—but don’t trip over “perfection” and not be a part of the conversation. – Kirk Westwood, Glass River Media
7. Create Content With A Purpose
If you’re writing bland content just to check off a box, you’re wasting an opportunity each time you publish. When you’re creating an editorial calendar, ask two questions: One, what does our audience need to know right now? And two, how can we say it in a way that hasn’t already been said? The latter question ensures you have a fresh, timely voice in a crowd and brands your expertise. – Kevin Lund, T3 Custom
8. Answer The Questions Your Customers Are Already Asking
Too often, companies throw mud at the wall in the form of content and hope something sticks. Instead of guessing what might engage your audience, answer what they’re already asking. Look at the auto-suggested queries that Google suggests when typing in questions. Those show up for a reason, because the masses are using those queries. Write content around what your customers are already asking. – Damon Burton, SEO National
9. Highlight User-Generated Content
We all want to create content specific to your niche, so one way is to ask your client base. Chances are if one client wants to know why your service is better than a competitor’s, then 10 others do also. Feature your client’s question and build your content around that. Now you are showing your connection to your clients and building trust at the same time. – Bernard May, National Positions
10. Solve A Problem
Most people generate content without a purpose. They do it for SEO, or because their competitor is doing it, too. Create content in the form of answers. People search for how-to content. If your content gives an expert solution, you will show in related searches on Google as a brand, as well as an intent-based search term. – Qamar Zaman, KISSPR.COM
11. Show What Makes You Unique
A company’s competitors are likely to be writing about very similar topics since they all offer similar products and services. Just because the topics are similar doesn’t mean that the content can’t be differentiated, though. One way to make sure that content stands out as unique is to write each piece in a way that showcases to readers what makes the business truly unique. – Dmitrii Kustov, Regex SEO
12. Perform A Content Gap Analysis
The best way to generate good content ideas is to perform a content gap analysis against your competitors. The tools can measure what your competitors are writing about as well as what they are missing. Google is another great source with the “People Also Ask” box in search results after typing a search topic. This is where you provide content to match user search intent answering their needs. – Michael Fox, Corberry Digital
13. Know Your Audience Really, Really Well
When you know whom you’re speaking to and who your ideal client is, you can tailor content to speak directly to them, allay their concerns and meet their needs. Too often, companies think everyone can be their customer—which means no one will be! When you focus on a niche audience, you get to know them well, and they trust that you do know them. Focus the conversation on your audience! – Lynne Golodner, Your People LLC
14. Interview Customer-Facing Teams
Too often, brands rely only on the executive leadership and marketing teams to create content ideas. If you are looking to create engaging content to move prospects down the funnel, leverage members of the sales team who are actually speaking with prospects daily. Ask them about why recent deals were lost, new pain points, competitor discussions, etc.—and turn those into blog and e-book content. – Lindsey Groepper, BLASTmedia
15. Skip Self-Promotion
Consider creating content that forgoes self-promotion in exchange for truly engaging or educating your audience. Take off that “marketing” hat and offer your customers helpful advice, or a heart-warming human interest story from your staff, as a way to connect emotionally and build a relationship with your users. – Hannah Trivette, NUVEW Web Solutions