Originality is one of the most overestimated words of content marketing.
An abundance of digital content obviously has marketers believing only highly creative, and avant-garde ideas can convince users to pay attention to messages.
In these circumstances, brands are competing to create more innovative content instead of aiming at good, old leads and conversions.
But if you look at things rationally, you’ll realize the most successful marketing campaigns are often based on well-known premises.
Clever marketers don’t try to generate brand new campaign ideas.
They simply refresh old but fruitful strategies and adapt them to fit the current context.
In this article, I will show you why “creative” ideas are ruining your content strategy.
I’ll also explain how to find and repurpose high-quality campaigns that can boost your content marketing.
There Are Only Seven Story Plots
Do you like reading novels or watching movies?
If you answered yes, you might have noticed a pattern among screenplays throughout the years.
It turns out that each story you’ve ever heard, seen, or read easily fits into one of seven universal categories.
The number of details you can add or change is countless, but all still come down to these seven solutions.
For this reason, mentors usually tell screenwriters not to seek elusive groundbreaking story plots.
Instead, they need to stick to traditional writing patterns.
This is something you should keep in mind while brainstorming ideas for content marketing campaigns.
Nobody is asking you to cross the border and discover a marketing Utopia.
On the contrary, you should play by the existing rules and try to find a combination that best suits your brand.
That is why marketers still use listicles or bulletins to answer customer inquiries.
For instance, look at the search results for ‘countries to visit 2018’.
All the big players such as Lonely Planet or CNN wrote articles in the form of lists, with a certain number of suggestions.
The reason for this is simple—this kind of structure makes it easier for the consumer to digest and remember most of your content.
There is no need to change the format because it can’t get you better results.
Five Reasons You Should Be Unoriginal
Although it might seem strange to claim unoriginality is a better way to create content, there are five very concrete reasons proving this point of view:
- It’s easier to generate ideas: It takes a lot of time to come up with a revolutionary idea, whereas you can brainstorm dozens of less innovative proposals within the same timeframe.
- Making content is simpler: Content creators are familiar with standard marketing formats, and they can fulfill well-known tasks much faster. On the other hand, it is not only difficult to think of unique content but also to put such ideas into practice.
- Content dissemination: According to Donna Bonk, a PR specialist at UK Best Essays, “Only a handful of media outlets are willing to share content that is completely new and different from everything they’ve seen so far. But if you sent them articles or videos similar to ones that were successful in the past, you will disseminate content throughout all channels of mass communication.”
- Planning is simple: Originality is untested, and you can never tell whether it is going to give you good or poor results. In such circumstances, planning becomes extremely risky, which is a big problem for marketers.
- Scaling: Being original suggests adopting the “all or nothing” approach. This is very problematic in terms of scaling, so most brands stick to unoriginal solutions to keep the progress gradual.
Embrace the Authentic, But Don’t Depend On it
After everything you’ve read so far, you might think I am completely against original ideas in marketing.
This, of course, is not true.
I advise you to embrace authentic ideas whenever you have the opportunity, but don’t let it become your everyday content strategy.
You should keep the workflow quick and productive by using a bunch of old but fruitful solutions.
And keep your eyes open for potential groundbreaking content ideas.
If you can create this balance, you can generate the best long-term results.
Now, the main question is how to find and use unoriginal themes in your content strategy.
There are three steps to this process:
- Detect successful content;
- Exploit proven ideas; and
- Address communication channels that match your content.
Step 1: Detect Successful Content
The easiest way to find relevant content marketing ideas is by conducting a simple Google search.
It will show you the most popular articles in the field of your choice.
Earning one of the highest-ranking positions is not easy, which means you should incorporate these search ideas into your content strategy.
For instance, if you type “social media marketing” in the search box, Google will display the top 10 results, and you will notice similar headlines:
- Seven Step Social Media Marketing Strategy for 2018
- Social Media Marketing for Businesses
- Social Media Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide
- How to Create a Social Media Marketing Plan in Six Steps
Keeping these titles in mind, you can’t miss the general message here.
These articles are aimed at entrepreneurs and marketing beginners who would like to learn social media marketing essentials.
Each one of these articles represents a how-to guide, so this is something you’ll want to give some thought.
Besides Google searches, you can also check out Google Trends to explore the popularity of topics in any given region, country, or worldwide.
Google will also display results of related searches and user interest over time.
This gives you an excellent opportunity to ride the same wave and follow the path set by other marketers.
Other Sources for Content Marketing Ideas
Reddit is another valuable source of content ideas.
Its users post articles or other types of content.
Then readers vote up or down to assess the value and credibility of the article.
Because of this, the most interesting articles stand out from the crowd and will give you a general idea of how your content should look.
Of course, you can also search topics by keywords to narrow down the choices.
But there are many more websites to visit and other channels to consult during the quest for successful content.
You can subscribe to industry newsletters or check out the latest webinars or content syndication platforms.
Whenever you find a good idea, write it down, and analyze it afterward.
You will dismiss a few of these themes, but some will inspire content creation.
Step 2: Exploit Proven Ideas
The second step to proven content conversion can also be broken down into three sub-steps.
- Make an advanced version of the same content: This option is relatively simple. All you need to do is take proven content and perfect it. For example, if you find a highly popular digital marketing analysis, you can make it better by adding newer statistical data or gamification.
- Use the idea in a different area: Most content ideas can be exploited in different businesses or industries and the same niche if you narrow down the topic. Let’s say that “10 things you must do in your lifetime” is one of the most popular topics online. In this case, you can use the same idea in a slightly different timeframe. You can write a series of articles such as “10 things you must do in your 20s,” “10 things you must do in your 30s,” and so on. The logic is simple but extremely efficient.
- Repurpose the same theme: Every single piece of digital content is based on a certain theme or emotion. You can repurpose the same theme in a new blog post, podcast, or any other type of content. Let your content ignite the same fear, joy, or concern in your audience. Just do it in a slightly different form.
Step 3: Address Communication Channels that Match Your Content
So far, you’ve done the two most difficult parts of the job.
But this stage of your “unoriginal” content strategy is probably the most important.
After all, what good is your content if no one has the chance to consume it?
Your targets, in this case, are niche-related media outlets, social media influencers, and bloggers.
They all want to publish only the best-quality content, but you have an ace up your sleeve.
Namely, you can reach out to these people telling them your article uses the same idea as previous successful articles.
And you let them know you added more details to make the article better and more appealing to the target audience.
The majority of media, bloggers, and influencers will be glad to share content based on proven ideas.
They’ll do this because that content has the potential to boost their website traffic.
It’s not hard to find relevant communication channels.
Just look at who shared the original article and followed the backlinks.
Of course, you want the most influential figures to share your content, so address those people first.
Send them customized messages to break the ice and increase the odds of them sharing your article.
After you’ve done that, you can engage B and C category websites.
These shouldn’t be your primary focus but they can increase the ranking of your “unoriginal” article, so don’t avoid them entirely.
Stick to a Standard Content Strategy
Originality is one of the most important elements of success, especially in your content strategy.
However, it’s impossible to keep coming up with fresh and exciting ideas every, single day.
Most of the time, you play by the rules and design familiar content.
But it’s better to stick to standard content marketing formats and add a touch of originality once in a while.
Things will be simpler this way, and the results will be outstanding.
If something proved profitable in the past, why wouldn’t you give it a try first?
Once you’ve done that, then you can move on to more creative and original ideas.