Source: Flickr user Bien Stephenson

How to Create Unexpected Content

As content marketers, we’re always looking for the next big thing. Perhaps, your next big thing lies in unexpected content or tactics that will really surprise customers. Although innovative branded content is always our goal, it’s easy to get in a rut when it comes to actually creating it. All too often editorial calendars become redundant and bread and butter content takes the spotlight day after day. So how do you get out of this creative standoff and create something unexpected? By taking risks.Unexpected content is the product of high-risk thinking – brand new ideas, concepts, tactics and strategies that we’ve never seen before in your industry. Producing something completely out of the ordinary isn’t simple, but spicing it up every once in a while will keep your content marketing strategy fun and your customers engaged.

Here are 5 ways to create unexpected content:

1. Conflict.

Conflict can be an enabler of creative thinking, so what better way to get the creative juices following than gathering the whole crew into one room for an all hands meeting… or at least rounding-up your marketing team for a brainstorming session! Let the whiteboard fill up as you toss around ideas. Nothing’s too silly, outlandish or out of reach. As you brainstorm, remember that testing your audience’s beliefs can be a successful gateway for grabbing their attention and keeping it. Try confronting your audience with a controversial idea or statement — a candy company can show the effects of sugar on weight gain… or a running fitness app can provide information on the dangers of joint damage. Brave the muddy waters of controversy!

2. Try a new tactic. 

Does your editorial calendar consist of 99% content articles or is your business known for its video blog series? Consistency is great for retaining readers and customers, but once your content becomes predictable it’s no longer engaging or exciting for your audience. Writers: try incorporating images as the main focus of your post; video pros: try drafting a written article; and social media addicts: try creating a case study. Go on, dip your creative content marketing minds into something new!

3. Collaborate with an unlikely source.

Ever wonder how Pepsi ended up marketing with American Idol, or how Justin Beiber and Ludacris came together to make music? It’s the product of partnering with someone or something unexpected. Tech firms may want to look to non-profits, fashion brands can collaborate with politicians, music industry buffs could turn to local restaurants… the possibilities are endless! Now is the time to turn to your marketing team, co-workers and industry leaders for ideas on how to break the mold – and see if they have any connections!

4. Truthfully address a major pain point in your industry, company or brand.

No business is perfect. Every industry, company and brand has their faults and the truth is your customers most likely already know about it. Instead of covering up these flaws, embrace them by creating content that acknowledges major pain points. Have a top executive record a video speaking directly to customers, create a detailed how-to article directing consumers through a troublesome set-up process or offer industry insights to help readers better understand the issues they’re facing. No matter what the pain point, your audience will appreciate the honesty and you might even find yourself receiving useful customer feedback — take advantage of this marketing opportunity and re-purpose feedback into case studies and customer stories!

5. Offer up a brand or company “secret” —  be transparent! 

We don’t think Dr. Pepper should spill the beans on its mysterious 23 flavors, but giving away some insider information is a sure way to catch your audience’s attention. From “behind the scenes” images, to interviews with the engineers who built your awesome product or service, to sharing how your brand name came to be, there are a million ways to give readers a VIP pass to your company vault. Share your juicy story and you’ll be watching your audiences’ ears perk up — guaranteed!

Developing new ideas and branded material that catch your audiences’ attention will be rewarded through social and link sharing, making your content more visible in search engines and easy to find for new and existing customer — just one more reason unexpected content that works alongside and compliments your business’ marketing goals should be a part of your content strategy! Do you have any tips on creating unexpected content? Share your successful ideas with us here in a comment or connect with us on our social channels — TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle+.

Image Source: Flickr user Bien Stephenson

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