Updated: Nov 17
It’s hard to describe what hiking the Grand Canyon is like.
With every next step, another view of its magnificence reveals itself to you. Standing still and taking it all in is meditative. It’s not only looking and seeing its majesty with your own eyes; it’s breathing in the crisp air, hearing the calm, feeling at peace, and knowing that you’re part of a world so beautiful that you can’t wrap words around it.
The Grand Canyon is a perfect metaphor for what it takes to create exceptional content. The Grand Canyon is distinct. Unique. There’s nothing else like it in the world. That’s why it draws a worldwide audience of 5.9 million visitors every year.
Great content exhibits the same qualities. The originality, the distinctness, of your content attracts your audience because you have something to say that leaves them thinking—meditating—curious about the new story, POV or insight you shared.
In the age of AI, you may be tempted to let generative AI like ChatGPT or Google’s Bard create content for you, but I wanted to remind you of the value of producing original content because originality is your differentiation.
Let’s explore 5 ways to infuse originality into your content.
1. Take storytelling approach
Humans are drawn to stories. That’s because our brains put us right inside the story with the narrator, creating an emotional response to what we’re reading rather than a purely logical and rational one. At the beginning of this article, you read the anecdote about how my experience at the Grand Canyon served as a metaphor for the value of creating original content. If you’ve been to the Grand Canyon or encountered other natural beauty, you can imagine yourself there with me and how you would feel in the very same place. As a result, it keeps you wanting to continue reading to see how the story unfolds. You too have original stories that can help you make your point and share your knowledge. Use them! They’ll ensure your content stands out.
2. Cite original research
Original research is research that your company commissions or conducts to uncover customer or consumer attitudes, sentiments, behaviors and/or outcomes on a particular subject. It’s a gold mine for producing content that only you can share (because you own the research) and that your audience wants to read. They’re clamoring for information to help–or validate–them in making more effective choices and decisions. And because of that, they’re primed to read it, engage with it and importantly, share it because they also want to be helpful to others who could benefit from the information they learn from your research.
You might be asking why is original research so effective in content marketing. For several reasons. It quickly establishes your brand’s authority in the market by bringing your audience useful and relevant market trends and insights. Your brand is able to offer its analysis of the research, showing your audience the value of your expertise and quickly building the know, like and trust factor with them.
And what’s better? You can package it up and distribute it in many different ways to keep the momentum going for months, if not the entire year, depending on the topic. For example, you publish the initial study as a white paper. Then you turn each theme into its own blog, share the stats via social one by one, produce multiple podcast episodes of your own and share the findings on related podcasts and the list goes on adding up to snackable, shareable content for up to a year.
3. Answer your audience’s questions
If you think broadly about content creation, it also extends to the short responses you comment in social feeds on posts from your target audience or others of influence in your market. Helping your audience at the exact moment they need it is invaluable. Talk about building the like and trust factor! Make a file of these questions and dive deeper into the subject matter for longer-form content like blogs, podcasts and videos. They can also become FAQs for your website that you create from keeping a pulse on your audience’s pain points.
4. Express your beliefs
In his famous Tedx Talk, “Start with why,” Simon Sinek explains how the greatest leaders in the world became the greatest leaders. He said, “All the great and inspiring leaders think, act and communicate the exact same way. And it’s the complete opposite of everyone else.”
They start with why.
People who share their beliefs are able to cultivate a following of other people who share similar beliefs. For example, Martin Luther King Jr. believed that everyone should be equal. Steve Jobs believed in challenging the status quo by thinking differently and created an entire brand around his belief. I founded Love Notery because I believe that the world’s greatest love stories shouldn’t just be the ones that you see in the movies or read about in fiction.
Why did you create your company? Why did you invent a new solution to address an existing problem? What made you want to do something differently than how it’s been done? The answers to these questions get to the core beliefs of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Sharing your why, not just the what and the how, has an extraordinary effect on the impact of your message. ChatGPT can’t write it for you. It's yours to communicate.
5. Embed customer testimonials and case studies into your content
You serve and deliver value to your clients or customers uniquely and their stories help bring great credibility to your company, brand and products or services. Bringing their words into your content is an original way to differentiate your content from your competitors’ content. You’ll provide your audience insight and examples of how your company can serve them that they may have not thought about–or validate their decision if they’re sitting on the fence.
Bookmark this blog and come back to it when you need ideas to infuse originality into your content. Remember we don't need more of the same in the world. We need more original thinking to keep us inspired and moving forward.
I'll leave you with this story. Recently I was interviewed for a series on content marketing. The interviewer asked me where I think the future of AI is headed. My response was this, "It's hard to be marked in my words around where AI is headed because it's evolving at such a rapid pace, but I will say this. I think that AI technology is going to be a resource and a tool for researching content, getting answers to questions, finding thought starters for your content, but what's going to help you break out from the crowd is originality."
*In the age of AI, there's a whole new meaning to the phrase, "These thoughts and opinions are my own." If you're wondering, I did not use AI to write this article.