In the world of content creation, it seems like it's getting harder and harder to create unique content to attract and help your prospective clients. Even if you were an early adopter of content marketing strategies in your industry, you can likely look around now and find that almost all your competitors are also blogging, creating content offers, and sending helpful resources to their prospects prior to beginning the formal sales process. So how can you stand out?
That's when it's time to start thinking strategically and building a moat.
It may be pretty silly to imagine your competitors as attackers trying to take your castle, but follow this analogy for a minute.
Your castle (content marketing program) has taken time and effort to build. It's one of your most valuable resources. It makes your guests (ideal customers) feel welcomed and cared for. It's a safe place for you to build their trust. If you've done a good enough job, your castle will seem attractive enough to your enemies (competitors) for them to try to sack it (steal it for their own purposes).
Now it's likely that your competitors won't rip off your blog posts or content offers verbatim. But it would be very easy for them to write something similar, polish it up, and make it more attractive than the original piece you created, all without crediting you. Then they'll reap the benefit of your hard work by getting to use that content in a variety of ways in their marketing and sales processes.
Your goal as a savvy content creator and marketer, then, is to build defensive moats around your castle.
This means you need to be proactive in thinking of ways to head your competitors off at the pass. How can you create a wall around your content that makes it hard for them to steal it or create similar and competing content?
Considering the medium is a great place to start. Blog posts, ebooks, and other written content are very easy to imitate. Your competitor can easily open their chosen blogging tool, copy your work, change a few words, and hit publish. Written content can also be hard to differentiate on quality. Sure, some blogs are much better than others, but the only real way to determine that is to read through both to compare. There also aren’t many social metrics you can point to to quickly see if something is useful or not.
Luckily, we're in the middle of an explosion of new marketing channels. While this can certainly seem overwhelming, it presents a lot of opportunity as well. Many of the newer marketing channels are harder to gain traction on and to maintain. That does mean they'll require a lot more effort on your part, but they'll also be more difficult for your competitors to copy. If you get there first and do it well, you've given your company a leg up on the competition.
Engaging in communities like Slack (by creating and maintaining a unique channel) and Pinterest (by creating and curating visually appealing and helpful content) present interesting opportunities for providing value to your prospects. But for an even bigger competitive advantage, consider using media that are even harder to get right.
Prime examples of this: podcasting and video. They're difficult to put together, and they have to be good. There's no way to fake it, and there's no shortcut. Because they're difficult to copy, these make excellent content moats for your brand. It might be worth your while to invest a little money to hire outside experts— or invest time to learn how to edit video or sound— in order to set yourself apart from the crowd.
However you tackle this challenge, it's a good idea to look for content moats to protect your company's helpful messaging from being sacked by your competitors for their own gain. It's possible to stay one step ahead and defend your place in your industry by creating difficult-to-replicate content or carving out a niche for your company online.