August 7, 2018 Richard Jones

Is There Still ‘Unique Content’ in the World?

While content was once touted as the silver bullet that would break through advertising noise, content clutter has itself become a matter of concern to marketers and brands. Thankfully, there are ways to create a point of difference even with done-to-death topics.

Think of any topic, plug in some keywords into Google and sit back – the sheer volume of content they generate is mind-boggling!

For instance, when I Googled ‘5 finance tips for entrepreneurs’ – a fairly innocuous and generic topic – it threw up 7,860,000 results. And something more unusual such as ‘How to join a circus’ returned 34,300,000 results! In such an environment, the content disappears without creating much impact, and web analytics often surfaces poor visitor statistics and a marked lack of engagement.

Why does unique content matter?

So what’s a brand or marketer to do? The only way to make yourself heard is by creating and publishing unique content. Uniqueness can help you stand out among the 100,000 other ‘authorities’ discussing the same subject as well as big companies that can get away with generic content simply because their muscle on Google pushes their content to the top of search results.

Some brands tend to choose quantity over quality – they assume that just getting content out there fast and in huge volume is enough to get the recognition as an authority in the space. They couldn’t be more wrong. Generic content has no raison d’être.

Unique content cuts through the clutter, but more importantly reassures your readers that what you offer is truly of value, so that they keep coming back to you.

Unique content cuts through the clutter, but more importantly reassures your readers that what you offer is truly of value, so that they keep coming back to you.

How can we make content unique?

In a world where a topic such as ‘How to join a circus’ turns up results in the millions, how can you hope to create content that’s unique? (By the way, ‘How to create unique content’ had 379,000,000 results.)

Let’s be clear: There is no such thing as a new topic or theme. Someone else has already written about any topic you’ve thought of and is probably a bigger expert than you are – unless you’re Einstein blogging on the theory of relativity of course.

So let’s focus on the next best thing: How can we find an original and unique way to deal with a flogged-to-death topic?

So let’s focus on the next best thing: How can we find an original and unique way to deal with a flogged-to-death topic?

Begin at the beginning with content strategy

Jumping straight into content creation without a strategy is akin to switching on your stove without getting your ingredients together.

“A content strategy will help you define your brand’s unique point of difference in the marketplace as well as your unique tone of voice and messaging,” says Daniel Hochuli, Head of Strategy, Asia at King Content.

Without a strategy, you are essentially groping in the dark as you try out various initiatives and watch them (more often than not) bite the dust.

Did you know? According to a study of B2B content marketing done by the Content Marketing Institute, 53 per cent of the most effective marketers had a documented content marketing strategy, and 40 per cent of the least effective marketers had no strategy at all.

Know your target audience and refine your topic for them

Content cannot be all things to everyone and trying to engineer it that way results in generic and mundane content. Focusing on whom exactly you’re talking to instead can make your content unique.

For instance, creating content for parents of school-going children in Singapore is not as focused as creating content for Singaporean parents of children between the ages of five and 10 who attend local schools. When you define your target audience narrowly, you’ll also be able to better establish what really matters to them and craft something that specifically addresses their pain points.

This, again, evolves from content strategy – mapping out content personas will help identify your audience and refine what you should be talking to them about.

Some forward-thinking businesses and even government agencies have already started doing this. Singapore Economic Development Board’s (EDB) Future Ready Singapore is one example. The digital platform aims to engage its audience with informative yet engaging articles around investment opportunities in Asia.

“Content creation should adopt a customer-centric lens that talks about what our target readers care most about. We gather marketing intelligence on trending topics to better understand our customers, making sure that the content created offers relevance to help them make informed business decisions and investment choices,” said EDB’s spokesperson.

Ask the expert

There is no substitute for expert insight. Companies often rely on writers who do tons of online research, synthesise the findings and reproduce it as a new article. But those blogs are not saying anything new.

You may be convinced that you absolutely have to talk about post-retirement plans because that is what your target audience wants to know about. Fair enough. But when you have in-house subject matter experts who know exactly what is happening in the space, why commission a piece that’s a generic mishmash of all that’s available on the web?

Instead, ask your internal influencers for their inputs on the topic at hand. After all, when it comes to insight and data, they are unrivalled. So why not pick their brains to enrich and enliven your content? (Much like I did – thanks Daniel for your invaluable inputs.)

Also, be open to reaching out to external experts in the field who will be able to add value to your pieces.

Go beyond the blog: let your ideas decide your format

Break free from the clutches of the ubiquitous blog. It may be the easiest to produce, but not necessarily the richest. It’s best to first start with an idea and what you hope to achieve. The format should follow. Allow your idea to dictate the format that best expresses it, not the other way around.

Our Head of Strategy for Asia recommends taking this further by thinking of innovative ways to use platforms to deliver content. He points to excellent examples of content that could have been written up as blogs, but thankfully were not. Check out Norse’s cyber attack map and Swissôtel Hotels & Resorts’ interactive guide to etiquette.

One final thought: If you have budget constraints, throw your money behind a few truly engaging pieces of content rather than a voluminous pile of generalities. Over the long run, having a handful of unique pieces with fresh perspectives and clear value (no fluff) will establish you as an authority in your field and keep your readers coming back for more – not only to consume more content but also further their relationship with you.

By Kritika Srinivasan, Head of Editorial Services, IMMedia Content. This article was first published by King Content and on LinkedIn.