“I’m sick and tired of people saying that we put out 11 albums that sound exactly the same. In fact, we’ve put out 12 albums that sound exactly the same.” – Angus Young, AC/DC
No one wants to listen to the same songs on repeat for years. Television shows that go into syndication eventually stop being shown entirely. Repeating content can be dangerous business. Some people make a career out of it but most of the time it simply doesn’t work out. And, really, if you’re churning out the same content day in and day out, you’ll get incredibly bored. It’s like repeating a word over and over again. Eventually it just becomes meaningless.
And think of your audience. If you’re in the business of making guitars and you put some content on your website about how to play popular songs and every week you put up some variation of “Smoke on the Water” then your audience will quickly go somewhere else.
The question becomes clear: how do you avoid putting out the same content? Funny you should ask. Actually, it’s not really that funny; it’s probably what you came here for.
17 – The Educational Series
According to Copyblogger.com, the educational series is commonly thought of as how-to guides but it can be any number of things that teach the reader or viewer about an aspect of your company that they otherwise may not have known about. If you’re a clothing company then you might talk about the material that your clothes are made out of or how your company was founded.
One of the best ways to get ideas for topics is to allow your customers to come up with them for you. Good creative ideas include Q&A videos that will allow you to have new content that actually addresses real questions and concerns your customers may have.
After all, PlayStation did it and is your company bigger than PlayStation?
16 – Conversation
There is no reason that you can’t have a down to earth conversation with your customers. The most common way that companies do this is by getting on social media and really getting an interaction going with their followers.
Notice the words “conversation” and “interaction.” You don’t want to treat your social media presence as this huge, untouchable, unknowable thing. You’re not the monolith at the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Your company has a persona and a way that it interacts with the world, even before you get it on social media. After that, you should accentuate that personality. Make your company human by talking directly with customers via Twitter conversations or even Reddit AMAs. It will give you an idea of your market and give them an idea of who you are as a company and what you stand for.
15 – Relevance
Look in the news. Take inspiration from current events. Every so often there is an outbreak of some kind of disease on certain types of foods. Salmonella is usually the disease in those cases. Regardless, if your company grows tomatoes and this is the year for a salmonella outbreak on batches of tomatoes then you can quickly talk about how to prevent the spread of disease on your food as well as the requisite “our product doesn’t have salmonella” post. Frankly, if that happened and a company didn’t have that post up then they would look mighty suspicious.
14 – Podcasts
FDR began a weekly tradition during his presidency of addressing America every week on the radio. Your podcast can be kind of like that (if you want to think about it that way). Creating content through podcasting gives your company a sense of humanity that it may not otherwise have.
As far as creating original content, having a few people banter about issues related to your product or industry may allow new topics to naturally come up that wouldn’t have been brought up otherwise. Quite a few podcasts and radio shows rely on just those types of organic topics (while obviously having an outline of other points if necessary).
13 – Old Content, New Sides
Just because this article is about bringing out new content for your readers doesn’t mean that you can’t deliver old content with a new twist. Entertainment journalists do this all the time when they look back at past media with a new perspective or if they get new information on an old piece of work. There are endless stories about products and services if you look at it from the point of view of everyone involved.
12 – Before and Afters
Before and afters aren’t just for weight loss products anymore. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling or doing, you can create content using before and after photos, videos, or stories. There are the obvious transformation stories: home damage repair, the aforementioned weight loss products, or exfoliating creams.
But that’s just scratching the surface of documenting a transformation. It doesn’t just have to be your customers in the transformation. You can show your product in phases or even the company itself at pivotal points of its life cycle. Car and Driver has done product retrospectives for several different car manufacturers over the years. Why? Because their readers are fascinated by the inner-workings of vehicles and the way that they are improved upon over time.
11 – Presentations
Surely someone at your company is a great writer and great presenter with amazing ideas that can be shared with the world. Maybe they’ve shared some of them with the company through a PowerPoint presentation. You might even be able to put that kind of presentation on video and broadcast it to your readers.
Moz does this type of thing a lot with Whiteboard Fridays. We can’t definitively say that it stems from a presentation that someone gave to their peers, but it has that presentation feeling to it because of how it’s structured.
10 – Contests
Providing content doesn’t necessarily mean providing pure information. People love stuff, too. Contests are great ways to spread exciting content (read: “free stuff”) to your customers. Another thing about contests is that sometimes people enter contests just to enter contests. They specifically search out contests, meaning that they’ll find your company because they’re looking for free stuff. Maybe they’ll even become a paying customer.
9 – Industry Relevant Information
Give your customers an inside look at the industry that you’re in. Many sports do this, especially leading into a big event or even in the off season (think the NFL draft). You will also see this in music when people ask a musician or band about a writing or recording process.
And it doesn’t have to be a main person talking about the industry as a whole. It could be something tangentially related to the industry you’re in. Talking to a stockbroker about how a certain activity within your industry will affect prices works just as well. It can bring in a group of economy buffs that may not have even heard of your company until then.
8 – Problem Solving
Your customers have problems. As much as you don’t want to admit it, even customers that buy your products have problems. Sometimes those problems are with your product or with something relating to your product. Don’t leave them out to dry. Take those concerns and problems on. Own up to them and recognize them.
Shun makes kitchen knives. If you’ve ever used a kitchen knife (and we’re going to go out on a limb here and say you have) then you know that sometimes they can become dull. Sometimes you don’t know what to use those myriad knives for. Navigating kitchen tools can be confusing for a casual home cook. They know that their customers may have some general problems so they made a series of problem solving, instructional videos.
7 – Targeted Marketing
If you know about point of sale systems then chances are that you’ve heard about targeted marketing. It sounds exactly like what it is: marketing aimed specifically at a group of people. It’s an acceptance of the idea that you can’t please all of the people all of the time. It’s fine that you can’t please everyone with everything that you do, but you can please them all at separate times, can’t you?
Korg realizes that they can’t always please everyone, so they get endorsements from many different artists in many different fields. They get that not everyone will know or care who many of the artists on the list are, but they know that there will be one or two that turn your head. This isn’t really a case of targeted marketing as it’s not directed at anyone, it has the same principles at heart: offer something to everyone, but don’t offer everyone the same thing.
6 – Infographics
Infographics seem to be all the rage now. In fact, here’s an infographic about infographics. They engage your customer in ways that text or video simply might not be able to and, because of how the images are structured, may give your readers a bit of a mnemonic device to recall the information later.
5 – The Why
Your loyal customers probably know what you do and maybe even who you are. But do they know why you exist? What are the goals of your company? Why did it start? Why do you love what you do?
If you want to get a taste of the “why” of any company, go to their mission page. For many people, if the mission of the company aligns with the values of the person they may be more likely to deal closely with them. If you went to an auto shop whose mission statement was “We’d like to outlaw chocolates, make babies cry, and burn all of the books” you’d probably take your business elsewhere.
4 – Ask Your Staff
If you’re a business owner you may not like to hear this but, in some cases, your staff may know more than you. If you have a retail store then you may want to ask your cashiers what customers are asking about and what their opinions are. After all, they interact with them day in and day out.
You don’t just have to ask your staff about what customers are wondering either. It’s just as good to ask your staff about their questions and opinions. This can serve many purposes. It can give you ideas for marketing content but it can also facilitate a sense of trust between you and your staff. It also may let you in on who is actually interested in moving up and where they want to go.
3 – Other Industries
You may have exhausted every who, what, when, where, why, and how that you can think of regarding your company. But have you considered how your product is used in other industries? It’s likely that your customers are from other industries and use your product every day.
If you’re a fishmonger, collaborate with the chefs that come in to buy your products every day. These people are just as valuable as your customers because they are your customers and they have stories about how your product has enhanced their life and their business.
2 – Get Out of the Office and Keep a Notebook With You
Salvador Dali was frequently inspired by dreams and his wife. Andy Warhol was inspired by popular culture. Jackson Pollock was inspired by the act of painting itself. What do all of these people have in common? They weren’t inspired by white walls, a cubicle, and humming halogen light bulbs. Most of the time, you won’t be either.
Get out of the office and take a notebook with you. Write content that fascinates you. We don’t know where the Sony Bravia ad came from, but we’re sure it didn’t come from staying inside and having a boring day.
Go out. Do stuff. Bring a notebook.
1 – Customers Create Content
Crayola has held a few contests to allow people to name crayon colors for them. People of all ages have submitted and named their products. Unlike an average contest, this isn’t just giving someone stuff (which they also did). Crayola was allowing customers to actually create a part of their company, giving them a sense of ownership and others a sense of investment in the company.
If that contest had gone on today then you’d better believe that Crayola would be tweeting and posting about it quite often and discussing the contest from different angles, announcing the winners with profiles on their blogs, and discussing the color names as well as those who almost made the cut.