It’s no secret that creativity and innovation are two key ingredients to a highly effective content marketing strategy.
And yet, consistently coming up with imaginative new content ideas for your business or brand can seem utterly vexing at times.
We all want to have better ideas, but it isn’t always as simple as just putting on your “better idea” cap.
That’s why successful content marketers often have deceptively simple cheats for churning out effective online publishing on a regular basis.
Let’s take a look …
Reinventing the wheel
Whether you’re a lone wolf cranking out informative posts for your hungry fans, or a B2B trying to forge new business connections, consistently coming up with great ways to increase your authority and get your audience talking about and sharing your content is a legitimate challenge.
Unfortunately, studies have shown that creativity can’t be bought.
That’s bad news for some, especially with the decline of traditional advertising.
And producing abundant and engaging content actually requires a great deal of focused intention, a fair amount of passion, a lot of elbow grease and a rock solid plan.
A little innovation can go a long way
As general manager, he’s watched the company grow from a small group of fun-loving designers into a consultancy of over 500 professionals.
His brother and founder David Kelley helped his friend Steve Jobs develop the Lisa computer and worked on Apple’s famous mouse design.
Reinventing the wheel … every day
IDEO have redesigned everything from children’s toys to high-tech medical equipment.
In a vintage spot on ABC’s Nightline in 1999 called Deep Dive; One Company’s Secret Weapon for Innovation they became famous (practically overnight) when they applied a modern redesign to the classic shopping cart in just five days.
Their process was nothing less than inspiring and the video touches on their mantra:
Enlightened trial and error succeeds over the planning of a lone genius.
Kelley points out that one great example of this is Thomas Edison’s legendary innovation.
Edison ambitiously filed over 1000 patents, but more importantly developed some very influential technology including the phonograph, motion picture camera and the lightbulb (the Steve Jobs of his era, to say the least).
We think of him as just one man — The Genius — but the reality is that he employed really a big creative team (over 14 people according to his assistant), that stood on the shoulders of some very important creatives that came before them.
Much like Edison, the team at IDEO are a group of innovative people working in a kind of “focused chaos” but Kelley outlines their deceptively simple methodology.
And here’s IDEO’s innovation cheat sheet …
… in five simple steps:
- Understand the market, the client, the technology, any constraints that are perceived for the problem at hand. Content marketers need to do market research into who their audience and prospects will be in order to make an educated guess at a starting point.
- Observe real people, in real life situations, using real language to find out what makes them tick. Once you start putting content out there and growing a small, loyal audience, you can tune in to their fears, hopes and desires to help steer your course.
- Visualize ground-breaking concepts and the customers who’ll use them. A brainstorm-intensive process that imagines the customer experience. By really discovering what makes your prospects tick, you can speak to their needs.
- Evaluate and refine to create quick, iterative prototypes that build on each other incrementally with the understanding that “no idea is so good it can’t be improved.” You must learn from your mistakes and optimize the cornerstone content that will work to forward your efforts.
- Implement the new concept for commercialization and business. The longest and most technically challenging phase. For content marketing this is what Seth Godin refers to as being prepared to “get rich slow.” Successful online marketers take the time to earn attention, build trust and turn it into a profit.
This methodology is not unlike the many benefits of agile content marketing that Brian Clark has been talking about in his new ebook series.
A simpler cheat sheet for innovative content marketers
- Start with an educated guess for your content strategy
- Create and release content knowing it’s likely to be a bit flawed
- Optimize it constantly based on audience feedback
It takes exacting execution and “constant innovation” simultaneously, but repeated ad infinitum, this process provides the basis of any successful content strategy.
And it does require some creative teamwork, forging alliances, building a network of your own valued relationships that can help share your content and grow your audience.
We all have a creative side, no matter what we’ve been taught, and tapping into is about embracing risk and not being afraid of the occasional setback.
One more important innovation mantra
Fail often to succeed sooner.
Unfortunately, there really is no “cheating” in content marketing. No one (in their right mind) said it would be easy.
But having a solid starting place is a huge step ahead of the competition. Some would even call it an unfair marketing advantage.
Got any innovation hacks of your own? Drop them into the comments.
I leave you now with the immortal words of David Ogilvy:
If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.