As marketers, we’re always looking for ways to stand out from our competitors, which is why content marketing has become such a powerhouse in the world of marketing. From blogs to social media and more, creative content allows you to really showcase the best of your brand and develop meaningful relationships with customers that convert. But creative teams will be all-too-familiar with the struggle to maintain creativity levels across your digital content.
Producing creative content consistently is a dilemma for all brands in today’s business world, but over the years I’ve learned a lot of lessons (and some the hard way) about creating great content. In this blog, I’ll share some of the mistakes brands can make, what you can do to avoid them, and what it takes to produce creative content every time.
The key lies in the way you approach your content marketing strategy. It can really make a difference because knowing how to stay creative means you can build your content strategy and workflows around innovation. Doing so will ensure that you can come up with some great creative content ideas each time you start writing.
What Prevents Brands from Producing Creative Content?
Before we get into how exactly you can produce creative content every time, we need to understand what prevents brands from being creative with their blogs, social media or email newsletters. Even the most creative teams can get stuck in a rut, especially in times of stress where there isn’t much time or you have a strict editorial calendar to follow.
Much like other areas of life, if you try to rush through or cut corners, you won’t reap the benefits or produce your best work. And this approach in content marketing is guaranteed to kill your creativity. Next, we’ll look at some of the mistakes brands can make by adopting this uninspired, one-step-behind approach.
What Mistakes Do Brands Make?
When brands aren’t making creative content, the chances are that they’re either being lazy or don’t have the skills to create unique digital content. These mistakes result in disengaging copy, uninspired ideas, and forgettable content. The good news is that once you’re aware of them, you can avoid them!
When you’re about to write an Instagram caption, blog or some web copy, it can be easy to rephrase or rework what your competitors are doing. And this isn’t to say that you can’t take inspiration from your competitors, especially the ones who are doing well. But what starts as ‘taking inspiration’ from rival content can quickly become a bad habit of copying what your competitors are doing.
Overselling Your Products or Services
The key to effective marketing is content that connects with your audience. But no one is going to be able to connect with your brand if you’re spending too much time bombarding them with CTAs or going into a tonne of depth as to why they should buy your product or service. Of course, your digital content needs to point the reader towards your brand at some point, but it should be done subtly and naturally.
Focusing on Quantity over Quality
Another mistake brands make is not spending enough time on their content. Prioritising quantity over quality prevents writers from adding that creative flair to their content, which needs time to develop. If you want the best, and most creative, ideas for your brand’s blog or social media channels, then you need to allocate enough time. Keeping your team to strict and unattainable deadlines and productivity levels is the enemy of creative content.
Going Overboard with SEO
It’s a well-known fact that I swear by SEO, but too much of anything can always turn bad. SEO is undoubtedly a crucial part of any successful content marketing strategy because of the sheer amount of traffic that search engines have the potential to bring to your business. But focusing too much on SEO and keywords runs the risk of limiting your ideas and restricting your team’s thinking.
Striking the Right Balance
To avoid the mistakes we’ve just covered, it’s important to revisit the way that you work as well as the content itself. If you want to produce creative content that does its job of bringing new visitors to your site and ultimately increasing your sales, you need to strike the right marketing balance.
This balance can be struck by covering three main areas: your brand, your customers, and your team. Each one helps to keep your content relevant, personalized, and high-quality, and maintaining this balance will allow you to produce creative content time and time again. So, let’s look at how exactly to do it!
Stay True to Your Brand
First and foremost, you need to create digital content that stays true to your brand. This includes producing pieces that:
- Reflect your brand’s values
- Showcase your tone of voice and brand personality
- Relate to your product or service offering.
If you let your creativity run too wild, you run the risk of creating content that isn’t even suitable for your brand. Keeping your ideas within the right realm for your brand will keep your content focused and relevant.
See Things from Your Customer’s Perspective
The best content will meet, or exceed, your customers’ needs. And this provides a great opportunity to get creative, by changing up your perspective and seeing things from their point of view. When you get into the headspace of your users, you’ll be able to think like them and therefore answer questions or solve problems they have through your content. And in a post-COVID world, content with added value is the content that people want.
Capitalise on Your Team’s Skills
Your people are the ones who will bring a creative content marketing strategy to life. So you also need to bring the best out of your team if you want them to produce creative content. Play to your team’s strengths and interests, because those will be the sources of creative flair, whether it’s a TikTok, landing page or in-depth blog. You also should create the right environment for them to work creatively in, which we’ll get into a bit later.
Creative Content Best Practices
When it comes to producing creative content, the key is not just knowing what to do, but how to do it, too. The following best practices are a mixture of the two – some help you to set your workflows up effectively, and others can aid in finding the right ideas for your brand. Let’s look at them in some more detail.
The first couple of best practices are centered around changing the way you work to maximize your team’s creativity.
1. Create a Productive Work Environment for Your Team
Creativity is an art, and we all know art can’t be forced. So if you want your team to give you creative content, you need to give them the means to do so. Whether it’s flexible working to fit around their needs, or the opportunity to have brainstorming sessions with colleagues, a productive work environment is a flexible one.
For example, at Writefully, we have a flexible working policy to empower our team to work when they feel the most productive and creative, with the freedom to take longer breaks if needed to recharge their creative batteries, or even a 15-minute mindful break to clear their heads!
2. Set Realistic Expectations
The creative process is one that can’t be formally organised into a procedure or strictly timed. So it’s important to be flexible and set realistic expectations for creative content, and recognise that sometimes it needs that extra bit of research or even some time away doing something else whilst ideas come together.
The next few practices focus on how you approach creating your content.
3. Don’t Look at Competitors Right Away
As I’ve mentioned already, there’s nothing wrong with looking at your competitors for inspiration and benchmarks for things like word count or general topics for content. In fact, it’s a great idea to reference your peers so that you know what topics are relevant for your audience.
But when it comes to creating unique, creative content, looking at your competitors as soon as you start can give you tunnel vision of sorts. This will limit your creativity and make you more likely to use competitors’ ideas or shape yours around them. A better way to approach it is to brainstorm ideas of your own first, and then take a look at your competitors afterwards to add to and develop your own ideas. This way you can hopefully find a unique perspective, and only look at your competitors’ work if need be.
4. Change Your Perspective
Another creative take on your content is to change your perspective on your topic. This works particularly well for making even boring topics interesting. To do this, try changing the angle that you approach your content. For example, if you don’t want to do the standard “X Benefits of…”, you could try changing the angle – and instead, look at “X Problems with… and How to Fix Them”.
Alternatively, change the perspective that you’re writing from. Rather than a brand trying to sell a product or service, get into the mind of your audience. What questions do they need answering? What problems do they run into? What are their interests? Answering those questions with your digital content is a great way to take a creative approach to your blog, social media or website.
Hopefully, these insights and best practices will help you to get into the creative mindset when you approach your digital content. For more insights and tips like this, check out the rest of my blog.