One of our favourite quotes is “you need to be the first, the best, or different” if you’re going to avoid being purely white noise. In fact, Moz’s Rand Fishkin believes in order for marketers to stand out they need to be creating content that is ten times better than anything else showing up in search.
One simple way to set yourself apart from the rest is to have an opinion and make sure it shows in your content, especially when you’re dealing with thought leadership. It might sound simple but for many brands, the idea of ‘courage in your convictions’ is, quite simply, terrifying. When you’re playing the game of popularity, saying you believe in or disagree with something before anyone else does can be a risky business. However, we believe that when it comes to content you need to have an opinion, you need to stand by it and you need to shout about it.
Be a thought leader, not a thought follower
We hear the term “thought leadership” banded around a lot in content marketing, but the term can often become removed from its context. At Axonn we believe thought leadership is adding something new to an existing discourse, and challenging what’s out there. After all, it’s called ‘thought leadership’, not ‘thought followship’.
If you want to add something new to the discourse, it’s important that you stop being afraid of people disagreeing with you. In her webinar on this topic, Axonn content manager, Clare Humblestone, covered this in her webinar on the topic last year. Clare believes that
content that sits on the fence, littered with phrases such as “on the other hand” and “however”, is bland and boring. Rather than being content that stands out, it often sounds more like it was written by “faceless robots.”
If you want to stand out you need to be saying something different, even if it means that people might not agree with you.
Stand by what you believe in
The biggest challenge of saying something different is ensuring you don’t back down if someone disagrees with you. If you’re going to present an unpopular opinion, you need to have the courage of your convictions.
For example, last year our MD Alan Boyce wrote a blog post on why he hates LinkedIn. As content marketers, LinkedIn is a platform we rely on, which made his strong opinion even more surprising. But instead of turning people away it actually became one of the highest traffic pieces of last year.
This is because the piece is well-reasoned, well-argued and doesn’t engage in considering both sides of the story. Alan makes his point and sticks to it, and it stands out among content pieces that skirt the issues.
You know the phrase “no publicity is bad publicity”? It’s the same with content marketing. It might sting at first to deal with complaints or negativity surrounding a piece of content you wrote, but the bottom line is you have encouraged people to engage with your content. People are more likely to engage with content that makes them angry, so it’s better to have encouraged engagement, even if it’s negative engagement, than to have made no connection with your reader at all.
Shout about it
Finally, if you’re going to go all-out with your strong opinion, you need to shout about it. These are the kinds of pieces that perform really well on social media or as email newsletter subject lines. Stand by your opinion and make sure it’s heard!
When 89% of UK marketers are using content marketing, standing out can be a challenge to say the least!