One common long-term thread of any successful venture is innovation. Not just any willy nilly idea will do though. Great results are most frequently achieved when the innovation is worthwhile. It’s useful. It solves problems. It solves problems in a way that currently is not being done elsewhere.
The same thing applies to writing great content. You can stand out, be trusted and ultimately help your audience if you innovate by solving problems. If you’re not innovating, you’re probably just offering the same old ho-hum material everyone else is. And that’s just not sustainable if you want to be successful.
In this post, I describe a simple exercise you can use to create innovative content by problem solving. It takes three straightforward steps.
Start with Problems
A useful starting point for innovation is to list down all the problems your target audience faces. If it helps, pull out some problems, tendencies, or notable characteristics from a master creative brief for your subject or niche. Now, identify which issues are under-served or can be explored in a new way.
Alternatively, review competitive content, blogs, or campaigns and then list their shortcomings. Those are potential opportunities to solve problems in a different way – an opportunity to innovate.
To illustrate how you might look at your niche I’ll complete this innovation exercise using my experience in ecommerce security as an example. Here are some of the key content weaknesses of that industry:
Most content and key benefits highlights ROI, increased conversions and the financial benefit of trust. Those issues are all solid (who doesn’t want to make more money?). However, SSL certificates and other ecommerce security products are something that everyone has to have. Nothing fancy.
In fact, the purchase decision is often done by technical admins who are solely cost or budget focused when it comes to financial benefits. They are not a profit center and are not easily swayed with the promise of increased conversions.
Problems Drive Innovation
Here are solutions to the above problems. This is where the innovation starts to happen:
The technical buyers want easy administration, never fail, and great technical support. Those are the problems they face. The security solution has to install and be maintained without a lot of time and headaches. It cannot fail because all it takes is one breach to destroy the business. And there better be instant access to support when needed.
If we want to highlight financial benefits, we have to go for the tried-and-tested “costs less” comparative message.
That is exactly what we did with the GeoTrust brand of SSL certificates. We started highlighting the “unlimited licensing” policies and affordable pricing.
It makes total sense. We changed the messaging on the GeoTrust website and created several videos to drive the point home. Well, the video of me dancing may have been too much and likely killed any hope of being an actor, but it hammered home the key message effectively.
Other area for innovation could be method of communication (video, flash demo, blog) or frequency of connection (slow it down or heat it up) or content tone/style.
Maybe it’s okay for a security company to be less formal in tone without risking that sense of “we take security seriously”. GoDaddy sells a ton of SSL certificates. Maybe they deliver what the customer wants and are more in tune to their audience than just the memorable racy Super Bowl ads.
Test Your Innovation
The third step is to take your innovative content for a test drive. Just like all campaigns, test your messaging. Give it a try. Think of yourself as the next great inventor and go for it.
Then occasionally go back into the lab and do this exercise over again. Reinvent yourself to stay ahead. Create content and marketing messaging that everyone aspires to be. Or more importantly, the content and messaging that is solving your audience’s problems in new ways.
I suggest you keep asking: What are their main problems? What kind of solutions could you provide?
Comment below with content examples that you feel are truly innovative.