While many content marketing experts advise brands to aim for content that exceeds competitor content by a factor of 10, there’s a better way of looking at taking your brand’s content to the top of your field. Instead of keeping your main focus on your competitors’ content analytics, focus on taking your branded content to a whole new level of excellence.
The other day, I heard a teaser for a podcast featuring music legend Carlos Santana. His philosophy on competition simply blew my mind – and inspired me to imagine what that outlook would look like in a content marketing context. Santana unpacked his view of competition in a Forbes interview.
He says, “When I collaborate on a song or on stage, I am here to complement, not compete. If I am playing with [Luciano] Pavarotti, Eric Clapton, or Juanes [Juan Esteban Aristizábal Vásquez], a true collaboration only works when you complement what the other person is saying and inspire one another to go further. For me, onstage and in business, this is essential.”
What if we looked at the brands we compete against as collaborators, not competitors? What if we see them as sources of inspiration to go even higher?
We’d likely stop being so obsessed with numbers and obsess instead about the value we can bring to the brands we create content for. I’d be willing to bet that the quality of our content would exceed that of our numbers-bound competitors by way more than 10x.
Take Your Competitors’ Insights Light-Years Further
The next time you read a piece by your closest competitor, find a nugget of inspiration in their insights. Then, figure out a way to extend that inspiration in an innovative direction that positions your brand as a thought leader.
For example, rather than looking at their copy and aiming for a longer-length article, look for the hidden treasure within it. Once you start jotting down your thoughts about the angle they take, you won’t have to set an artificial length to shoot for. Your biggest challenge will be limiting your thoughts to a length your customers have the time to read.
And, when you’re offering your brand’s unique take on the topic, you’ve already exceeded your competitors’ usual rehash of the “content-marketing-and X” status quo. It will be highly shareable, giving your piece plenty of link love – and will likely catch the eye of industry leaders.
Monitor Competitor Blog Content for Topic Ideas
A content strategy that uses your competitors’ content as a source of further exploration and development requires that you keep a close eye on their content. Of course, you could simply subscribe to their blog.
But that means that you might miss content they publish outside of their owned content. LinkedIn posts, for instance, are often where brands post thought-provoking content to test out new ideas on their peers before they publish in-depth articles on those topics on their blog or in white papers.
So, having a way to automate monitoring competitors’ content can save valuable time and provide a wealth of material that you can react to can help you spend the lion’s share of your time on content creation rather than searching through countless search results and competitor blog posts.
Using a competitor analysis tool like BuzzSumo to find and quickly analyze your competitors’ blog content can provide you with deep insights into your competitors’ content, giving you a springboard to add to the conversation with your own brand’s insights.
Use Competitors’ Social Posts (And Their Followers’ Comments) as Inspiration
As for social media monitoring, Hootsuite Streams is an excellent tool to track all your competitors’ social accounts, their keywords and your own, and hashtags across all the main social networks from a convenient dashboard. But don’t stop at their posts. Take note of their followers’ comments.
If their followers have questions or feedback, you can use those comments as ideas for blog posts of your own. If your answers to their questions provide a more thorough, well-reasoned solution to their problems, they’ll likely follow your brand, too, giving you a shot at their business as they develop trust in your brand.
When you keep your content focus on meeting your prospects and customers’ needs with thoroughly researched thought leadership content, you won’t have to constantly look over your shoulder at your competitors.
Use Original Research and Imagery
Exploring a topic in depth with original research might take longer, but the results are well worth the time you spend. Whatever your industry, you likely have subject matter experts – engineers, product development teams, doctors, or scientists that do the background research on your products.
Engage in content collaboration with these teams to incorporate their research into content that goes above and beyond your competitors’ posts. Then, work with your design teams to translate all the technical language into infographics that your customers can understand.
To maximize the return on your investment in time and effort, don’t just stop with an infographic and a blog post. Expand your research into a white paper or an ebook. Use the material to create a video and podcast.
Repurposing labor-intensive content doesn’t only make sense from an ROI perspective. Doing so helps you reach people with a wide range of learning preferences.
While you might be an avid reader, many people (studies show 65% of them) prefer to receive information in a visual format. So, delivering content in a variety of formats positions you as a brand that goes above and beyond to give your customers what they need. And, if they learn to trust your content, they’ll likely trust your products and services as well.
Make Lemonade out of Your “Lemons”
Always be looking for ways to improve your content in pursuit of excellence. Part of that pursuit is identifying those pieces that haven’t performed up to par, uncovering what went wrong, and turning them into highly informative pieces that are entertaining to read or watch, provide your audience with useful insights, and have lasting power.
While it’s still critical to keep an eye out for what your competitors are doing, a guiding vision that seeks to lift your content higher needs to be the bedrock of your content strategy. Keeping that at the forefront of your teams’ minds will position your brand as a true leader in your field.
Rising above your competition with world-class content takes a carefully coordinated approach in which your content teams, design teams, and subject matter experts work hand in hand to plan, create, publish, and analyze game-changing content.
Having a central hub where your teams can organize it all is an essential ingredient in such coordination. With DivvyHQ, a content marketing platform where you can do everything content-related, you can coordinate with both your content teams and others outside of your department.
And, your company can try it free for 14 days with no obligation. Start your free trial today!