10 techniques to develop creativity in your content marketing

I think that part of the appeal of Content marketing is that it’s deceptively simple. Simply create a content marketing hub as shown in the explainer that Dan Bosomworth and I created in 2012 and then fuel it with quality content, share the content and watch the visits, shares, leads and sales roll in.

But what is the reality? Mark Schaefer famously coined the term ‘Content Shock‘, which is still with us today. Much content marketing activity generates little engagement or sharing, but to mean, that just means we need to work harder, based on a solid strategy. As Mark explains:

“Recognizing the continuous dynamics of Content Shock is the most important part of content marketing strategy today. Without incorporating the reality of Content Shock into your plans, you’re wasting your time and money. This means:

Accurately assessing where your business and industry stand in terms of information density

Creating a content strategy based on your ability to maneuver within the content density reality of your niche

Continually assessing your progress and monitoring the density of your niche

Committing to a long-term content strategy of relevance, consistency, and superiority to stay at the top”

I always keep an eye out for the latest research from the Content Marketing Institute to see how businesses are managing content marketing to deal with content shock. Their latest Content Marketing 2020 Research is useful in that it highlights these three techniques used by  businesses that rate themselves as most effective in gaining results from content marketing:

  • 1. A documented content marketing strategy
  • 2. A centralized content marketing group (or person) working throughout the organization to co-ordinate content marketing
  • 3. Agreed metrics to measure content performance

Countering content shock through creativity and content quality

I’m sure few would disagree that these success factors are important, particularly in a larger organisation, since the use of an overly prescriptive, centralised approach can limit content marketing. Simply put, it can stifle creativity and this stifles cut-through across social media and organic search. This potential problem has recently been eloquently highlighted by Doug Kessler recently:

He says:

We turned something exciting…

something anarchic…

something experimental…

…into something dreary.

Something expected.

Something easy to approve…

I completely agree. But at the same time, creating a content marketing strategy is an essential part of getting the buy-in and resourcing you need to enable creativity and to compete with other businesses who have more buy-in and resources. What I often see in businesses is that without a strategy and sufficient resourcing, the creativity isn’t there leading to a ‘me-too’ approach to content marketing which brings to mind Doug’s classic article from way back in 2013.

10 practical techniques to improve content quality and deliver results

As an antidote to this, I’ve been reviewing the content marketing techniques that I think are useful to apply, almost regardless of which sector you work in. Yes, it is a list and we’re supposed to avoid a checkbox mentality, but we still need to deploy proven techniques that the content marketing leaders use. So consider these…

  1. A content marketing strategy based defining your goals containing…
  2. Content marketing metrics and KPIs to check you are getting the returns you need.
  3. In-depth customer persona s using content mapping to align with customer needs through a purchase journey
  4. Rigorous content ideation and a content marketing editorial calendar to cover the interests of your audience, but with the flexibility to cover the latest zeitgeist
  5. Sufficient investment in both paid and earned content distribution including content repurposing and
  6. A quality content hub sharing content that will get cut-through in organic social and organic search, using practical, creative fuelled techniques such as…
  7. Cornerstone content forming Evergreen content
  8. Content curation
  9. Skyscraper content, and even better…
  10. 10X content !


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Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice
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About Smart Insights

Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of digital marketing advice site Smart Insights. We’re a publisher and learning platform that helps our 150,000 active members in over 100 countries plan, manage and optimize their digital marketing activities by applying the actionable advice in our planning templates, guides and interactive e-learning tools.

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