If you want to succeed as a content marketer, you need to be original—but it’s hard to be original when newsfeeds are so cluttered with other content, and Google’s offering direct answers to most common user questions. Almost every industry, even those with lower tendencies to pursue content marketing (like manufacturing and other “traditional” industries) is feeling the pressure of this packed competition, put it’s impossible to spontaneously generate new topic ideas while still being relevant for consumers.
So instead of racking your brain over which subjects to choose for your content campaign, seek originality elsewhere; choose some original content formats, mediums, and applications that your competitors just aren’t pursuing. Here are seven possibilities to get you started:
Glossaries and FAQs serve the same basic function; to inform users of basic industry or company information in a permanent and comprehensive way. They’re often avoided due to their complexity—to be comprehensive demands countless hours of work, and these formats are often relegated only to one static page. However, you can start out small with minimal effort and gradually expand from there. You won’t be able to publish and syndicate your work like a typical blog post, but your long-standing, ever-growing showcase will consistently grow in page authority and make a better impression to incoming customers—especially if they’re comparing you to a competitor.
Most content marketers don’t bother with interviews because they seem to take too much work, but in reality they’re easier to put together than most content types. The only hard part is securing a noteworthy personality to host—and if you’re hard-pressed, you could even find someone within the company. All you’ll be producing are the questions ask, which are important, but your interviewee will shoulder much of the burden of content generation. Interviews hold a few key advantages over other forms of content—most importantly, they can be featured in multiple mediums (video, audio, and in written transcript), so they can instantly reach a wider audience.
Quizzes aren’t rarely used in general, but they are rarely used in content marketing for business. Most of the quizzes you’ve seen relate to pop culture like “Which Game of Thrones Character Are You?” These are shockingly popular, but it’s not just the subject matter that makes them so—it’s the interactive element of filling out the questions. You can host your own quiz, no matter what industry you’re in, if you can think creatively enough. For example, you could have a quiz like “Should I Install a New Front Door?” or “Which Brand of Paint Should I Choose?” to help users with practical decisions.
Surveys are similar to quizzes because of their interactive element, but they offer two critical advantages: one, the results are much more open-ended, and two, the results can be aggregated for an entirely separate post. For example, you could post a survey about your audience’s opinion on a certain issue in your industry, and then write up a formal analysis of the results for everyone to see at a later date. It’s a two-for-the-price-of-one content format, and as long as your topic is interesting, it should pay off for you.
You don’t have to be a fantastic artist to include a handful of comic strips in your content lineup—stick figures are perfectly fine, and might even make your brand more relatable. Comics offer three distinct qualities that make them loved by audiences everywhere. First, they’re visual—and as you undoubtedly know, visual content is becoming increasingly important. Second, they’re concise—the paneled format forces a more succinct and easily interpretable point. Finally, they’re amusing—people associate comics with down-to-earth humor, and that makes them more approachable and more engaging.
Chances are, you’ve gotten to know some heavy hitters in your industry, whether that’s through meetings, networking events, or just random path crossings. Expert panels take advantage of this, serving as a more open form of interviews. You might ask one or two core questions and ask a dozen different experts what their opinions are—readers will love to peruse the different opinions, and you’ll probably get extra shares and visibility from all of them once the piece goes live. The only trouble is herding them all and convincing them to participate in your post.
Micro-content can be almost anything—it just has to be very concise, and not the star of the show. This could be a series of “little known facts” rotating in the footer of your site, or random tips that pop up when a user hits a loading screen, or even very short blog posts that feature a single image or short paragraph. These forms of content are kind of like icing on the cake—they won’t help you boost the core of your strategy, but they will add an interesting and unique element to your user experience that could take your brand to the next competitive level. But like standard content, your micro-content still needs to be useful, relevant, and intelligently presented.
These types of content are rarely used, and could give you an edge in the content marketing game, but don’t let that be an excuse for laziness. It’s still your job to make sure every piece of content, no matter what format it’s in, is well-researched, relevant, authoritative, and engaging. As you’ll likely have less experience with these content types than something like a blog post or simple video, it’s going to be harder for you to achieve that level of quality. But the harder you work, the better results you’ll see—and the fewer competitors you’ll have to face.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.