“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.” Those are famous words from American film director and scriptwriter, Jim Jarmusch. And they can apply to any endeavour.
Originality is overrated. The best ideas are informed by what’s gone before - even the most astounding invention or find will have been built on years of previous research. Take the discovery of electricity, for example.
So when it comes to formulating your content marketing plan, don't succumb to fear that you have nothing new to say. The process is not about coming up with entirely new ideas, it's about reshaping them; putting your spin on them, and providing information that will resonate with your audience.
You don’t have to be original, but you certainly shouldn’t be the same. The key is to innovate: "change (a thing) into something new; … alter; … renew" (Oxford English Dictionary).
Writing on Entrepreneur, John Pilmer says: "The most profitable spin-off ideas and products are two steps away from the original. You must find a way to differentiate yourself by providing an entirely unique customer experience."
Say, for example, your company sells marketing automation software. The market you’re in is saturated, and there is a glut of content already available. Coming up with a successful content marketing plan can seem like an insurmountable mountain.
But it’s not an impossible task. Yes, other companies have already created blog posts, podcasts, eBooks and videos about the role of software in a business’ marketing efforts; connecting with the right people; aligning your marketing and sales efforts, and the like.
All of this content is a treasure trove of useful information that can spark ideas for your content strategy. What works and what doesn’t? Your task is to figure out how you can approach these ideas with a fresh perspective.
Writing on AudienceBloom, Kathrina Tiangco says: "Never regurgitate what others have written; instead, find a way to frame it in a new context, look at it in a new light, or share a new opinion on it."
What makes you different from the competition? And what can you offer that the others can’t?
Focus on your audience
Rather than stressing over whether your content is original, think about what your audience wants – and how you can deliver it. In the process of engaging fully with their needs, you are more likely to appear original.
By delving deeply into the mindsets of those you want to connect with, you will discover the things that keep them up at night; the minute details that can inform your content marketing plan. To elicit the emotions of your readers, you need to show them that you understand their pain - really understand it - and that you can help to alleviate it.
Think about it this way. If a reader finds your blog post and feels that it speaks to them directly, it won’t matter that they’ve read other posts about the same topic. The way you have approached the subject; the knowledge and insight you’ve brought to it; the manner in which you’ve appealed to them: all of that will make your business stand out from the crowd.
So if you’ve been wondering how you can come up with an original content marketing plan, it may be time to redelineate your notions of what constitutes originality.
Henry Ford, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, said: "I invented nothing new. I simply assembled the discoveries of other men behind whom were centuries of work …progress happens when all the factors that make for it are ready and then it is inevitable."
Your content marketing plan doesn’t need to be new. In fact, you should be drawing inspiration from the work of others. Your business doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The novelty factor comes when you combine these ideas and make them your own; when you carefully tailor them to the needs, interests, aspirations and fears of your audience.
In doing so, you may well create something "new". Not original, but innovative - and, therefore, valuable.