Every time that I sit down to write a piece, I go thru my pre-game ritual of chasing off that small voice inside wondering “will this ever be read?” Well, you have to wonder these days. The vast Cyber Sea is rapidly being polluted by a small army of content creators churning out white papers, eBooks, Infograms, Social Media posts and the like. In the rush to deliver our message, we collectively were writing fast and furiously about the same basic info – slightly different spins, but still basically cookie cutter in content.
How do you deal with content overpopulation, as you stare into the abyss, preparing for the quest ahead? Would I even recognize originality if it was staring me in the face? Originality requires change, doing things entirely different. Modifying the same old, same old with a different spin on it is like putting lipstick on a sow. Generating a completely different approach will take some serious out of the box thinking.
The truth of the matter is that if I had the answer for how to create originality, I’d be a very wealthy man. I probably wouldn’t be generous enough to share it with the world for free. However, a more realistic and practical goal would be:
Learning to Differentiate Yourself
If you are going to be different you have to know what’s out there. Enter any content marketing phrase into your favorite search engine and prepare to be immersed. You are going to be surprised, not only with the scope of what’s out there, but the fact that you can find in 99 different flavors of each! Eat your heart out Baskin-Robbins.
While perusing the first two pages of search responses, take out your handy “Idea Book” and jot down a reminder for a rainy day. Don’t be surprised if at the end of the assignment you have so many ideas to set you up for a short monsoon season. Sample the language tone, the spacing of content, the readability. With all of this acquired data in the front of your brain, you are ready to plan your campaign.
Fail to Plan – Plan to Fail
- My initial temptation is to jump into creating a layout and begin building a foundation for the piece. Our assignment, if we choose to accept it, is to differentiate our piece – (preferably in a good way.) To stand out in the crowd, we need to inspect every step along the content creation process, looking for a way to be different and/or unique. My personal checklist of priorities includes:
- When selecting a subject for the piece, look for a topic that you have strong feelings about. If you are genuinely excited about the topic, your enthusiasm will make it a more interesting read.
- Who is your target for the message? Know as much as you can about the reader. You want to be able to see through their eyes. You want to feel their concerns and headaches. Your sales team is the first call, as no one knows customers like they do.. Remind them that if they help you, they are also helping themselves by generating high quality sales leads.
- Select a format to offer the information in – whitepaper, e-book, infographic, video, or some combination together. My personal preference is video, as it is on the verge of exploding. I feel it is easier to separate yourself from the crowd by leveraging video to spread your message and fame. We all know what how easy it is for a video to go virile just through sharing and word of mouth.
- Determine a point of view or perspective that you will present the message through. What will be your persona from which to guide readers with? Persona can definitely help sway the hearts and minds of your readers. If they like you, they share with friends. The way you spin your yarns can help build your very own group of “Dead Head-like” followers.
- By now, putting the pen to paper should come easy because you have done your homework. It is time to put everything out of your mind and focus on taking the reader on a journey, capturing their imagination along the way. Yea, right! I am going to stop a compulsive scanner in his tracks and induce him to actually read. This is where you sell your value and utility with the quality of your work, writing and your connection with the needs and pain points of their industry. If the writing doesn’t convert them into a reader, then they probably weren’t going to share it with others or discuss the topic at lunch.
Upon finishing the piece, correct the typos and grammatical mistakes to get them out of the way. This will allow you to focus can be on spotlighting improvements to the draft. Get up from your computer and take at least a ten minutes break to clear your mind and summon the sharp focus that you entered the assignment with. Assume the posture of the readers targeted by the campaign. Examine the piece for ways of helping the message to be understood clearly. Go over it a second time, testing it for scan-ability. Do the key points jump out, hoping to convert scanners into readers?
Originality is certainly a goal worthy of mounting a quest for. However, it is as elusive as a June day is long. It is a frustrating, uphill battle, seeking a standard that few will actually achieve. Targeting originality and falling short still has it’s up side. Today, anything that sets your work apart from the crowd will stand out among the cookie cutter offerings. Putting your creative process under the microscope can breathe new life and energy into your work. Dare to be different. Be secure in trying new things. Trust in your creative instincts.
To hear the rantings of other voices on the same topic, try these two out:
5 Creative Tactics to Make Your Content More Original
How To Write Awesome Original Content: Tips, Tools, & Techniques