Why Content Creators Need to Up Their Game to Stand Out in a Crowded Online Landscape (+ 9 Ideas to Get Your Creative Juices Flowing)

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Even in our pre-pandemic world, content marketing was already akin to a competitive sport, with brands navigating a saturated attention economy to attract and engage followers and convert them into new or repeat customers. But with COVID-19 forcing so many businesses to de-prioritize their brick-and-mortar stores and operate in a far more ‘online mode’, people now rely almost entirely on the internet for much of what they’d typically do offline, from shopping and entertainment, to work, study and even socializing. For businesses, it means more competition online and the added challenge of getting not only more eyeballs on their content, but standing out enough from their competitors to turn ‘views’ into engaged followers and customers.
Without ongoing content to drive online sales or at the very least keep brand awareness on a low (if not vigorous) simmer, it may be harder for brands battling the challenges of ‘on and off’ lockdowns to get their mojo back post-Covid. Those of them who realize that content can actually help them not only ‘soldier on’ but gain an edge in this surreal new world, will be producing content to keep their audiences engaged, and as the volume of content rises, the ‘typical’, run-of-the-mill kind won’t stand a chance against the kind that packs a punch.

Just like in a competitive sport, it will be the content creators who aim to distinguish their brands with sensitivity to the current climate and standout creativity who will be best positioned for the next stage. It’s a doozy of a challenge, but I believe it’s doable, so I’ve decided to take up the gauntlet myself with this very post, and hopefully to inspire others to turbo-boost their creativity.
So, in this post, I’ll talk about four things worth considering before you create a new piece of content in the Age of Content Overload. I’ll also share some ideas on how to approach content creation creatively, to give yourself an edge over zillions of other marketers who aren’t going the extra mile to spare their audiences from acute Crapcontentitis, a.k.a. extreme boredom caused by really mediocre content.

Oh, and there might be something about an umbrella. (Seriously. Read on).
First, here are four concepts worth keeping in mind when you approach content creation:
1) Promotional channels are just the conduit for your message, but it’s the message that really counts.
Promotional channels are just the conduit for your message
With so many marketing gurus swearing by one digital marketing method or another, it’s hard to know – whether you’re a marketing novice or a seasoned pro – what to focus your efforts on, or which promotional channel will deliver the most bang for your buck.

But a channel is just the conduit for delivering your message, and it’s a playing field that’s common to all marketers. What makes one marketer’s message resonate more effectively than another’s, isn’t the channel the message appears in, but how well the message is executed to distinguish it from other messages (or content) competing for attention from the same audience, and to achieve your desired response. So how do you convert people once you’ve convinced them to give you a moment of their time to check out whatever it is you’re promoting? By engaging them with content that’s clearly superior.

Without standout, relevant and compelling content, you may get people through the door, but you won’t be able to get them to stick around so you can successfully deliver your intended message, or encourage them to become actual followers or customers.

2) You don’t always need to use your entire bag of tricks for audiences to appreciate your content: Just be original.
Just be original.
In many of the instances that marketers approach content creation, they’re thinking about what THEY want to say or promote. That’s understandable, but unfortunately not enough of us in the content marketing business use an audience-first approach, where we think about what sort of content the audience wants more of, or what type of content will float their boat (not ours).

The internet is so overcrowded with mediocre, unoriginal and repetitive content – audiences are now more fickle than ever before, and super-discerning about WHAT content they’re willing to consume, WHICH brands they’re willing to consume it from, and HOW LONG they’re willing to spend engaging with it – and that goes for both B2C and B2B.

So given people’s predisposition to ignore anything that isn’t instantly appealing – it’s not always easy to ensure that each new piece of content we create will be an extravaganza of delight unlike anything that’s come before it. But sometimes all it takes to get someone to appreciate a piece of content isn’t your entire bag of tricks, but simply a genuine, demonstrable effort at originality either in the concept, writing or visual presentation.

Sometimes all it takes to get someone to appreciate a piece of content isn’t your entire bag of tricks, but simply a genuine, demonstrable effort at originality either in the concept, writing or visual presentation.

Unsurprisingly, audiences have vastly different tastes. While some people delight in watching cute cat videos all day long, others crave sports, news, art, music, science, fashion, food, etc. In order for people to not only give a piece of content the time of day, but also engage with it – whether  it’s sharing it with others on social media, telling a friend about it, downloading or buying something, etc. – it needs to be deemed excellent compared with other pieces of content in the same niche. If it’s underwhelming by comparison, people won’t bother sticking around to consume it in its entirety, because ‘underwhelming’ just doesn’t cut it in a world where people have become content snobs and generally prefer to interact with content of the highest caliber.
Underwhelming content doesn't cut it anymore
But if you gain a reputation for creating content that consistently “hits the spot”, people will be more inclined to give your content the benefit of the doubt and make an effort to check it out on a regular basis.
3) With infinite content choices and increasingly selective audience preferences, people have become skilled online scanners who don’t have time for mediocrity and repetition, so to really ‘wow’ them – you need a point of difference.
There are many elements that make a piece of content stand out and captivate its viewers enough to be considered excellent by comparison to others: Whether it’s a blog post, video, E-book, infographic, podcast or whatever – if the premise for the content is interesting and the execution is great, it will likely perform well. But there’s a secret ingredient that will make it REALLY pop, and that is…

A point of difference.

If you’re okay with creating something that’s just mediocre or too similar to existing content about the same topic, then you better also be okay with the likelihood that people will be inclined to skip it. Or maybe they’ll read some of it, but only to the point where they realize it’s a waste of time.

But – if you can bring your own twist, add a different angle, or execute it in a novel way, you will have taken what could probably pass for a good piece of content, to a standout piece of content that will truly ‘wow’ its viewers. Why do they need to be ‘wowed’? Because if most of the content they usually experience is just ‘blah’ (or worse!) – then by wowing them you instantly set your brand apart and hopefully impress them enough to want more of whatever it is you’re promoting.
So how do you add a point of difference?
How is THIS post, for example, different from others that have been written about the same topic?
Well for one thing, it’s heavy on the visuals. A 2018 report by Prezi and Kelton Research found that “winning” content that commands a person’s undivided attention today features a compelling narrative combined with stimulating visuals and dialogue. More than half of all business professionals surveyed for the study said a great story captures their focus and keeps them engaged, and a third of respondents said that visual stimulation is critical to maintaining their attention.

I’m not saying that every single post must be accompanied by visuals to be deemed “successful” (although it’s been proven that posts with images get more views), but posts that include visuals can enhance the story or message, and make for an entirely different user experience that I personally appreciate, so I usually make an effort to add visuals to my own posts that convey the emotions I’m hoping to inspire as you read it, and I often customize them to inject some of my personality into the post.
Everyone’s personality is different, so just by infusing your content with your own personality through the writing style or the visuals you choose, it’s already different from all other pieces of content anyone else could create about the same topic.

Sometimes you can even use photos of yourself or your team to create a more personal connection with your audience. That personal connection – if you can create it successfully – is part of the secret sauce that makes people prefer your offering to that of your competitors.
4) Creating content that’s different means being creative. But even if you’re not naturally oozing with creativity – all you need is just a little tweak to your mindset.
All you need is a little tweak to your mindset
A huge part of what goes into creating memorable content – is creativity. Some may argue that “not every topic is interesting enough to inspire creativity” or that “not everyone is born with the creativity gene.” The thing is, neither of those arguments pose a real obstacle to creating excellent content, and here’s why: There’s NO such thung as a boring topic, only content creators who aren’t open to approaching seemingly dull topics with a fresh perspective, and treating every piece of content as something viewers will think of as valuable or enjoyable, as opposed to dull and forgettable.
There's no such thing as a boring topic
If you weren’t born a designer, copywriter, or creative-content-creator-extraordinaire – that’s okay. You can still add a point of difference by making a conscious effort to do something different with it.
What do I mean? Allow me to demonstrate:
A typical piece of content promoting a new product would probably include an article, some images or a catalogue-style video of the product along with product features, and a call to action encouraging people to try it or buy it. Right? BORING!

The aim isn’t to be “typical”; It’s to think of ways to make our content MEMORABLE, to boost the viewers’ curiosity, make them ‘connect’ with the brand on a more emotional level, ‘wow’ them enough to convert them into customers, or at the very least move them further down the sales or engagement funnel.
So let’s – for the sake of example – consider the task of promoting a product, but to make it just a little challenging, let’s choose something really ubiquitous, like a new line of umbrellas (pretty mundane, right?).

Now, let’s see what type of content you could create around a new line of umbrellas that people would find interesting or enjoyable.

And remember, you can replace ‘umbrellas’ with any product or service, and it doesn’t even matter if it has loads of unique selling points or not. The ideas I’m about to list are examples of how to approach content creation creatively for ANY product.

INTRODUCING… THE NO-RAINER!

Right! I’ve just made up a new umbrella brand called the “No-Rainer”, and here are…

9 Content ideas to get people excited about the No-Rainer umbrella

NOTE: Some of the ideas below may include suggestions that aren’t feasible when in lockdown, but they’re certainly relevant when not in lockdown which is why I’ve kept them in anyway 😉
1. Talk about the inspiration that led to the creation of the product.
Who created it and why were they compelled to create it? Create a piece of content – or even a series of pieces – providing the backstory of how this particular product was conceived and the people behind it. And if it’s already an established brand with an interesting history, you can also talk about how it evolved over the years. If you give people a chance to get to know the people who created the product, they will have an entirely new perspective of the product itself.
2. Establish yourself as an authority in your niche by providing some history of the product in general.
Create some content about the history of your niche: Who invented the umbrella? Where was it first used? What did the first umbrellas look like? How have they developed over the years? Etc. By demonstrating knowledge of the history of your product, it implies that the product YOU created – in this case the No-Rainer umbrella – must be a quality product and help boost your audience’s trust in your brand because it’s made by people who obviously know what they’re talking about when it comes to umbrellas
3. Is there any meaning behind the branding, logo, design or name of this particular line of umbrellas?
Create content that talks about the genesis of your brand’s design: Who came up with the name or the design of the No-Rainer umbrella line? Does the design of the logo have any special meaning? The story behind the evolution of the brand and design can add an element of interest and appreciation for the product that people might not have in the absence of this backstory.
4. Is there anything interesting worth noting about how the No-Rainer is produced that would make it more impressive or give it a point of difference?
Create content that talks about the genesis of your brand’s design: Who came up with the name or the design of the No-Rainer umbrella line? Does the design of the logo have any special meaning? The story behind the evolution of the brand and design can add an element of interest and appreciation for the product that people might not have in the absence of this backstory.
Creating a video that demonstrates the production process is a great way to engage potential customers, especially if there’s an element of storytelling in it rather than just technical aspects. For example, you could include interviews with the folks who actually produce the thing, and showcase their expertise and devotion to creating the best product possible.
5. Add social proof or testimonials from satisfied customers.
You could pay an influencer (if you can afford it) or simply reach out to your own satisfied customers who would be willing to provide a testimonial about why they love the No-Rainer so much, preferably with a photo or video of them using the product for extra credibility (and to give yourself a wider variety of promotional options). Use your social channels and mailing list to invite your existing customers to participate, or even take a bunch of No-Rainers out to the street on a rainy day, offer them to random passers-by to try out, and ask them for a testimonial on the spot (and their permission to be used for testimonial purposes). This could make for a great video with possible viral potential!
6. Announce a fun competition either in honour of the product launch or as an ongoing campaign.
You could pay an influencer (if you can afford it) or simply reach out to your own satisfied customers who would be willing to provide a testimonial about why they love the No-Rainer so much, preferably with a photo or video of them using the product for extra credibility (and to give yourself a wider variety of promotional options). Use your social channels and mailing list to invite your existing customers to participate, or even take a bunch of No-Rainers out to the street on a rainy day, offer them to random passers-by to try out, and ask them for a testimonial on the spot (and their permission to be used for testimonial purposes). This could make for a great video with possible viral potential!
7. For a bit of quirky fun – get musical!
Create a fun campaign based on a playlist of songs that include the word “umbrella” or connotations of “rain” (Rihanna’s Umbrella, Gene Kelly’ Singing in the Rain, Prince’s Purple Rain, etc.), and make sure the No-Rainer brand is prominent in the design of the campaign so that your audience associates it with the No-Rainer next time they need to go out and buy an umbrella!
Quirkiness and an obvious willingness on your part to have fun with your marketing can be very endearing to your audience, and it will make your content more memorable.
Quirky and fun content is more memorable!
8. When you promote your content on social media, it will almost always be accompanied automatically by an associated feature image, so make sure the feature image you use really POPS.
The feature image you choose for a blog post is generally the one that’s automatically displayed when you promote it on social media, so it’s essentially part of an ‘ad’ for your content – and it could make all the difference between someone choosing to click on it or not. So don’t just use a typical product shot or a boring stock photo: Think about how you can showcase the product in the most beautiful, eye-catching way – or maybe even an artistic interpretation, or photographed in an awesome location, etc. Think outside the box to create a visual that will be as inviting and as memorable as possible.
I mean, come on! How cool is this image? Nice one ThePixelman!
9. Create a series of “fun-facts” about umbrellas to share on social media.
People love reading (and sharing) quirky facts about all sorts of things, so you could create a fun trivia-based campaign using interesting tid-bits about your industry or your product. I would also add to the mix a cool piece of trivia about the No-Rainer to make sure the piece is associated with MY product (and not just any umbrella). And you never know – if you execute this type of campaign well, it might even go viral!
So there you have it: Nine creative ideas to turn what might have ended up as a typical piece of content about something as mundane as umbrellas, into something more engaging and memorable. None of them require creative genius, just a bit of ‘thinking beyond the predictable’ and putting yourself in the viewers’ shoes. Just think: If YOU had come across a piece of content about this product or topic, what would it take for it to resonate with YOU?

It all comes down to this:

Going the extra mile to add some sort of creative element, perspective or ‘twist’ to your content can make all the difference to whether your audience is compelled to engage with it, or not.
And… that’s a wrap!
This blog post is also available as a free E-book so feel free to download it.
[E-book Cover Screenshot] How to Create Content That Stands Out in a Crowded Online Landscape
Too busy to read? Watch the video!
If you’ve skipped to the end hoping to find a video version of this post, you’re in luck! The post will always be here for you to refer back to whenever you like 😉
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Noya Lizor - I'm all about creating standout content that helps businesses grow

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