Mark Twain once said, “There is no such thing as a new idea.” And then he set out writing novels to prove himself wrong.
It’s the marketer’s job to prove him wrong too. There’s no greater advertising power than uniqueness. But it’s not an easy feat.
In 2012, Red Bull ran a live stream of the “Stratos” jump, where a skydiver set the world record for the highest skydive. Millions of viewers all over the globe were watching Red Bull’s live stream. Why? Because Red Bull attempted a marketing stunt that no one had tried before, and it boosted their branding in the extreme sports world and even put their name in the Guinness Book of World Records.
But you don’t need to jump out of an airplane to stand out. You do, however, need to be unique.
Unique content is no longer a ‘nice to have.” It’s a ‘need to have’ in order to survive (let alone thrive) online. Your product, your brand, and your marketing will only work if you’re meaningfully differentiated from your competitors. But all too frequently, marketers create content that blends in with the competition.
So let’s look into why unique content matters so much and the process you can use to make your content stand out.
Why is uniqueness utterly non-negotiable?
How does unique content help you thrive in today’s digital world?
The goal of any type of marketing, especially content marketing, is to differentiate you from your competitors. There’s so much noise on digital platforms: from search engines to social media, it’s a crowded world out there. Content that’s never been done before is the best (and only) way to turn heads and get noticed.
And in order to turn heads, you need to walk by your readers in the first place. You need to be visible on search engines.
There’s evidence that Google optimizes based on three key aspects of content: quality, relevance, and uniqueness. That’s right, search engines actually care about how unique your content is—and they’ll rank you accordingly.
Why is this so high up on Google’s priority list? Because they know that unique content attracts readers. People would rather click on an article that piques their interest and curiosity than the “same old stuff.” Readers actually equate unique content to credibility and authority. It shows your business knows the topic well enough to not just present the info but to twist it and change it up.
Google also knows that fresh content encourages more shares. When you win over your readers with something new and exciting, they’re more likely to tell their friends. Search engines love shareable articles that have a lot of links.Google also knows that #freshcontent encourages more shares. When you win over your readers with something new and exciting, they’re more likely to tell their friends. Click To Tweet
Unique content is the key to unlock your marketing.
But so many marketers don’t make unique content. Why? ‘Cause it takes a lot of work! It’s not easy… and that’s why it shows results.
So how do you actually create content that no one else has ever done before?
The Unique Content Process: How to create what no one has created before
1. Gather inspiration from everywhere
“Big ideas come from the unconscious. This is true in art, in science, and in advertising. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant. Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret. Suddenly, if the telephone line from your unconscious is open, a big idea wells up within you.”-David Ogilvy
Break out the whiteboard and colorful markers, because it’s time to throw around some ideas. Brainstorming isn’t about sitting in isolation in a dark room. The best writers and marketers draw inspiration from the world around them. Some of the best ideas will happen when you’re not expecting them.
But new ideas only happen if you’re open to them. Brainstorming works best if your brain is subconsciously thinking about generating ideas 24/7. So shift your mindset to see the world through your profession. Mundane moments can spark a great content idea. Keep a written or electronic journal with any ideas that pass through your head throughout the day. Even if you don’t know what the idea means when you first write it down, it could explode into something awesome later on.
But don’t pigeonhole yourself into just your industry either. See the world through a new lens. What’s stale in tech could be groundbreaking in real estate. Sleep tips you’ve heard a hundred times could be useful in interior design. Read blogs and forums, browse social media, delve into books, eavesdrop on conversations, go for a drive, and talk to friends.
2. Consider what your audience really needs
What do you really want to know in your industry that hasn’t been talked about much?
You’ve been drawing inspiration from everywhere, so you’ve probably come across your audience’s thoughts and opinions. What are they asking for? What kind of questions keep coming up?
The question that’s always being asked is the perfect opportunity for your content to provide an answer.
So how do you find out what your audience wants? Do some digging. Check social media posts (yours and your competitors) to see what people are writing in the comments. See what customers are sending you when they make customer service inquiries. Look at forums in your industry.
And you can even go right to the source! Request that your customers to fill out a survey so you can provide them with better content and service. Ask them what kind of content they want to see, what they feel like they’re missing, and when they feel most connected to your brand. (If your survey doesn’t get a lot of responses, consider adding a small incentive like a discount on products.)
3. Play to your strengths
What does your business offer that no one else does? Put it in your content!
There’s a reason you’re in business. You have some sort of unique selling proposition, whether it’s in your product, branding, or mission. Use that as a lens into unique content.
A great way to share your brand is through behind-the-scenes content. Show how your products are made. Share an interview with your CEO. Display pictures and journalistic accounts from one of your events.
This kind of content is innately unique to your business—because no one else has your products, CEO, or events! If something exciting is going on in your business, you’ve got a great new angle for your content.
4. Twist and shout (hooray)
Don’t be afraid to try something that’s never been done before—because that’s how you get noticed!
Find ways to put a twist on content that’s been done before. How can you look through a new lens or light? What new analogies or comparisons can you make to help people better understand the topic?
(Psst…Don’t add a twist just for the sake of shaking things up. It should make sense in alignment with the topic, and it should work to inspire curiosity without confusing your audience.)
Alright, but what does a “twist” actually look like?
Most of the time, it comes down to telling a story. People love stories. Stories help them understand and connect with the material. So get personal with it.
So let’s say you’re a shoe company with an eco-friendly mission. You could talk about how you make your shoes sustainable, but that’s been done before. What if instead, you told the journey of Shelby the Shoe, who’s just been thrown into the trash? The reader could follow Shelby as she walks through the process of waste, longing to be a sustainable, recyclable shoe. You’re getting the same point across, but you’re adding some personality and flair to it.
5. Make it completely epic
Is there a topic out there that has a lot of moving parts? Do you have something new to add to a popular subject?
This is hard to pull off, but it can show massive results… Make your content the biggest and baddest against all your competition. You expand on the topic to an exhaustive degree, so visitors get all of the info they need in one piece of content.
This could be a multi-part video, an eBook, an extensive guide with several chapters, or another long form of content that delves completely into a single topic. For example, Neil Patel’s Guide to Link Building is a 15-chapter guide that dives deep into how to build links on your site. It’s a specific topic that others have written about, but he goes into such depth that it’s one of the top results for this topic.
This is one of the most beneficial types of content. It becomes a pillar on your site, which adds authority and credibility that search engines reward. Plus, readers love having a one-stop-shop for all the info they need, and they’re more likely to bookmark and share a comprehensive long-form guide.
6. See how you compete in the race
If you’ve followed the steps above, you likely have some awesome content lined up. But you still want to make sure that it’s actually unique. Now it’s time to see what your competitors are doing.
Why do you need to do competitive research? Your content needs to show up on the first page of search results. If you have a lot of competition, your content won’t get seen. It’s like displaying a Picasso piece in a dark room. There’s no value unless people can see it.
So take it to Google. Search your main topic as though you were a reader looking for that information. Try out different keywords and phrases that feel natural to search. Look at all of the results on the first page. These are your top competitors.
Now, pause. Don’t immediately click away just because there’s some competition for your idea. You could have a similar idea as others, but you might have a unique spin or a better way of doing it. So, at this point, you want to see what the other content pieces actually look like.
Click on the top search results to assess the following (you may want to keep track):
- Quality: Is the piece well written? As a reader, do you find any value in the piece or do you click away quickly? Lower quality articles don’t do well on search engines, and they’ll be easier to beat.
- Content date: If an article is old and hasn’t been updated, your new article has a better chance to swoop in. But, if an article is constantly being updated, search engines assume it is a timeless piece of content.
- Page rank: Page rank is an SEO algorithm that looks at the linkbacks on the page. The number and quality of linkbacks tell search engines the level of credibility and authority of the site. How many inbound and outbound links are there on this piece?
- Keywords: What keywords do they use in their written content? This tells you what keywords searchers are actually looking for, and it can help you determine how to make your keywords different.
We recommend trying out SEO Quake for an analysis of keywords, page rank, and content date. It’s free and integrates into most web browsers.
No-go: It’s not a unique content idea if the first page of search results is full of high-quality, keyword-saturated pieces published by established sites with lots of link-backs and page ranks. Time to try another idea.
Off to the races: It’s a unique idea worth pursuing if the top search results are poor or average and there aren’t more than two or three pieces.
7. Final check: what’s the “hook”?
Before writing, we have one more test to make sure your content is truly unique. If you were going to write one sentence about what this content is, what would you write? This is the “hook” that brings people in.
Examples of your hook could be:
“I’m going to have the most comprehensive link building guide on the internet.”
“I’m going to present an interview with the top experts in the industry about this topic.”
“I’m going to talk about how to train your dog through the lens of astrology.”
Boil it down to one sentence. If that sentence isn’t something that would instantly pique curiosity in your audience, then the rest of the content likely won’t either.
This hook also helps keep you on track. You can outline your main points based on that sentence, so you can ensure your entire piece is centered on the same idea.
Rinse, wash, and repeat. (Lots of testing).
Ready to create unique content?
Are you ready to make unique content that will stand out and show serious results for your marketing strategy? It’s time to get to it!
How do you create unique content? Want us to expand on any points? Leave us a comment below!
Wondering what to read next?
Here’s what we suggest:
→ Get Your Audience’s Attention Alert Bars
→ Everything You Need to Create a Content Calendar for 2021 (+ Free Template)
→ The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Campaign Planning