8 Creativity Tips from Content Marketing Pros

Set your content apart with these tangible tips from industry leaders

March 30, 2015

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When almost every company is using content to capture attention, it’s often the creative brands that are able to rise above the noise.

Borrowing creative secrets from top marketers can help you produce the type of stellar content that sticks in the minds of your ideal buyer. Check out eight practices you can start using right away to give your content marketing an edge.

Creativity Secret #1: Know thyself

Creative energy ebbs and flows differently for all of us. Some like to write in the bright of morning, while others prefer the quiet of night.

Capitalize on the science of creativity peaks to schedule tasks for times you’re most primed for them. Strategically plan your workouts and other dopamine-boosting activities that can increase creativity. Then stick to that routine.

This approach works for Neil Patel, cofounder of Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics. Neil notes that he writes best in the morning and that, “By being consistent with my writing schedule, I’ve trained my brain to be prepared to write during that time.

Creativity Secret #2: Read broadly

Writers across disciplines consider reading a must for good writing, and Heidi Cohen is no exception. The expert marketer says she benefits not only from reading other marketers’ writing, but works across genres: “It’s often better to read different types of books . . . and articles than the kind you write. This helps you not to channel your favorite blogger but rather to develop your own voice.”

In addition to exposing you to different forms of language, reading others’ work also puts you in position to evaluate writing methods and examine your work more critically.

Creativity Secret #3: Repurpose your work

Repurposing can allow you to execute a great idea on a grand scale while getting a bigger return on your creative energy. Our own Jason Miller suggests producing a piece of “big rock content” you can repurpose for blog posts, videos, slide presentations, and other social media content.

The opposite approach can also be effective. Corporate consultant Hugh MacLeod recommends producing smaller, themed content assets that can be assembled into a larger piece of content. This strategy can help you to focus your content marketing around key topics.

Creativity Secret #4: Capture everything

Your ideas are valuable, and it pays to capture them. Content notes, blog concepts, message fragments, and other material from your creative sessions can serve as inspiration in the future, providing the meat of a great idea – whenever it strikes.

Many great tools can help you capture ideas during your creative process. Brian Clark notes that he keeps things together with “Evernote, Google Docs, scraps of paper, [and] a rapidly diminishing memory.”

Creativity Secret #5: Make headlines sing

Eighty percent of people will read a headline but only 20% continue to body copy. That’s why top copywriters whose work gets read often write 20 or more headlines before selecting the winner.

At the social media company Buffer, A/B testing plays a role. Content Crafter Kevan Lee explains, “We test all our headlines in hopes we find one that really resonates with our audience.” The marketing team chooses a few favorite options and posts them on social media. Engagement metrics then help determine the final title of a blog post.

Creativity Secret #6: Go all-in on understanding your audience

Establishing trust and authority with your audience requires a true deep dive into their needs, desires, and concerns. Brian Solis emphasizes the importance of empathy in this process. Rather than going in believing you know best, put yourself in the place of your audience to identify their problems and aspirations. Brian asks, “Are you thinking through where your audience wants to be?”

Creativity Secret #7: Kill Your Darlings

“In writing, you must kill your darlings.” Attribution for this famous phrase is a subject of debate, but the idea is simple: Writers often have to let go of work they’re attached to.

It’s common to think a piece is just right, only to be proven wrong with another read-through. Maybe a pet phrase or paragraph is getting in the way of clarity or flow. The temptation to preserve these words may be strong, but as marketing pro Ann Handley advises, “Edit ruthlessly.”

Creativity Secret #8: The Rule of 24

“Allow at least 24 hours between your draft phase and your editing phase whenever humanly possible.” Sonia Simone’s advice applies even if you can bang out a first draft that ‘shines.’ Reviewing your own work from a fresh perspective almost always results in improvement.

Whoever you look up to for groundbreaking content, learn about their creative process and don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas. What you learn could make you a more creative, more effective content marketer.


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