After more than five years of rampant popularity, content marketing is still one of the most viable and effective marketing strategies in our modern, digital world. Despite being denounced as a fad, both initially and as the strategy hit peak popularity, its capacity to continually build on returns makes it an established and valuable part of any company’s marketing repertoire.
Still, that popularity serves as a major challenge for newcomers to the strategy. Because content marketing is so popular and so effective, it’s being used in excess by companies all over the world, which in turn causes a degree of over-saturation that makes it inherently difficult to differentiate content.
Think about it; one ice cream truck in a populated area on a hot day is bound to make a lot of money. Ten ice cream trucks in the same area serving the same population are bound to make one-tenth of that total potential revenue. In the same way, the theory goes that over time, each individual content piece becomes less valuable and content marketing, in turn, becomes a less viable strategy.
There’s no question that the current content market is saturated and that an article today is not worth as much as an identical article might have been ten years ago. But the smart content marketer is not writing the same type of articles, and is instead relying on alternative strategies to get the most out of the market.
If you want to stand above the competition and get the greatest possible value for your work, try using these three strategies to differentiate content:
The big problem with content saturation is that consumers have too many choices for a single need.
Take our ice cream analogy from earlier, for example. If ten trucks are all offering the same selection of ice creams, most consumers will pick one at random and ignore all the rest. To overcome this, an ice cream truck must find a unique approach. Maybe they have specialty flavors, or an innovative serving tool that prevents melting and spillage, or maybe their branding caters specifically to adults rather than children. The point is, it stands out from the crowd because it has more special, unique offerings.
Similarly, your content will earn more relative value if it appeals to a more targeted audience, or serves a more targeted need. Instead of targeting “men,” or “young men,” narrow your audience down to “men in their 20s with white collar jobs.” Instead of writing an article on “pool maintenance,” write an article on “how to acid wash a pool cartridge filter.”
To put this into practice, whenever you write a new article or choose a new direction for your campaign, ask yourself—can this be made to be more specific? If it can, find a way to do it. It’s also worth perusing the competition and seeing if there are any important topics they’ve never covered. The key is to do things that nobody else has done.
News topics are important in content marketing for two reasons. First, they’re trendy, so they’ll be searched for more often and they’ll attract more people naturally. Second, because they’re new, they haven’t been written about as often as topics that have been around forever.
For example, everyone knows what ice cream is, so writing about its composition, how it’s made, and other common topics will pit you against hundreds of people who have already written about them. On the other hand, if someone invents a new kind of ice cream that doesn’t resemble traditional dairy-based varieties, the market is wide open for new material. Read the news often and subscribe to industry publications so you can stay ahead of the trends.
Finally, rather than focusing on the quality of your writing and the interest of your readers (which are both important), focus on building relationships with other publishers and influencers. Do them favors, write good content for them, and establish mutually beneficial partnerships. You’ll reward them, they’ll reward you, and your content will have far more visibility and potential as a result.
Calling back the ice cream truck analogy one more time, this is the equivalent of putting your truck 100 yards closer to your target audience than your competitors’ trucks. The more visibility and convenience you can offer, the more your content will stand out.
These strategies won’t make you an instant success. That still requires months or years of dedicated effort. But they will help you gain an edge in a marketplace that is currently over-saturated with content. It’s unlikely that content marketing will die anytime soon, since people will always need information, but as the market becomes more crowded, writers and marketers will need to continually find new ways to stay ahead.