On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the difficulty you experience in creating original, fresh content that offers high value to your readers?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question unless you’re not being honest with yourself. In fact, 60% of B2B content marketers struggle to produce engaging content—one of the biggest symptoms of what we refer to as institutional sameness.
Is your content strategy suffering from institutional sameness? Let’s look at what you can do to stop putting your content on repeat and why you should try to avoid doing so in the first place.
What is Institutional Sameness?
Institutional sameness occurs when a significant portion of the content you produce starts to sound the same. We’re not talking about style and tone but rather the advice you offer, the calls to action, and the general predictability that comes with repeat content.
This is especially common for content marketing agencies, as NuSvara discovered before outsourcing a portion of their content—see their lessons learned in this case study. They had a small team of in-house writers producing content for a variety of clients and realized that a lot of their content was starting to sound the same. It’s even harder when you have several clients all within the same niche, as it’s easier and cheaper for in-house teams to “recycle” content ideas for each client.
But even SMBs are guilty of this. The longer you invest in a content strategy, it becomes harder to come up with unique ideas to talk about, especially if you want those ideas to deliver mega value to your readers.
4 Benefits of Conquering Institutional Sameness
You could make the argument that institutional sameness isn’t a major concern. After all, it doesn’t require as much creativity and research, so you typically produce a higher volume of content faster. Plus, if you’re growing your audience, there’s a chance they haven’t seen some of the content you produced in the past, so your lookalike content will be new information to these individuals.
However, the benefits of overcoming institutional sameness are far greater than any perceived advantages of maintaining it.
Original Reporting Ranks Higher
Originality is a prerequisite to strong search engine rankings. Google’s algorithms prioritize fresh content that isn’t duplicated anywhere else. In 2019, Google announced that its algorithm would promote original reporting, meaning stories that closely mirror existing ones—even if the content is written differently—won’t gain as much traction as the original.
Of course, if you’re writing an analysis piece, you might synthesize information from several or more sources. That’s completely fine as long as you’re approaching the issue from a different angle.
Relying on the same writer to produce your content limits you from gaining new perspectives. While you might want to revisit topics you’ve already talked about, a different writer (or a team of quality content writers) can bring new insight to the topic to give you new information to share with your readers.
Free of Established Office Politics
Another benefit of overcoming institutional sameness is that it separates content creators from established internal office politics. This allows the writer to do their best work and try different approaches without feeling hindered by internal political battles in the past.
Greater Workplace Diversity
Diversity in the workplace is a top priority in many companies, and it’s not just about hiring people of different genders and ethnicities. Rather, companies can be more successful when they have a diverse range of ideas, skills, and backgrounds fueling their mindshare. Diversity fosters new ideas, different ways of thinking, and increased innovation and creativity—all of which are achievable in the absence of institutional sameness.
5 Things You Can Do to Overcome Institutional Sameness
Institutional sameness is a common problem in organizations that produce their content internally. To stop sounding like a broken record and give your content valuable, meaningful variety, put these five tips into motion:
1. Collaborate with Other Thought Leaders
Two heads are better than one, particularly when it comes to developing genuinely helpful content. If you’re at a loss as to how else you can provide value to your readers, reach out to another thought leader and get their take on a topic.
You’ll gain a new perspective to share with your audience, and readers tend to put more trust in blogs with multiple authors. Plus, your co-author will be likely to share your content with their audience to boost their own credibility. It’s a win/win.
2. Outshine Your Competitors
If you feel like you’ve exhausted all of your best ideas, there’s nothing wrong with grabbing some inspiration from your competitors. You don’t want to copy their content (remember, originality is rewarded), but you can check out what they’ve produced and find opportunities to improve on what they said:
- Look for gaps in information that you can fill
- Use more credible facts or stats, or better yet, your own research
- Link out to more relevant sources
- Answer important questions their content didn’t address
- Upgrade your content on different mediums
3. Update Your Research
Audiences shift, needs change, and data reveals new insights over time. As you continue to produce content, whether for your clients or your own organization, it’s important to create content that speaks to your current readers.
This alone can help you start thinking of different approaches and techniques. In addition, you may be able to improve older content with new information, stats, links, or objectives so that you don’t have to fully reinvent the wheel.
4. Focus on Different Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
One topic can take on different meanings depending on the person reading it. Let’s say you’re writing about the cloud-based phone systems you sell. Someone who is brand new to your company might need to know the benefits of a cloud phone system, while someone who has been in your funnel for weeks might be more interested in how exactly to use your cloud phone systems.
To give your content a fresh perspective, consider where your readers are in the buying stage: awareness, consideration, decision, or loyalty.
Speaking to your readers in this context allows you to adapt your ideas to their unique needs. This opens up your content strategy to include new ideas and even spin the same ideas in different ways.
5. Outsource to Save on Internal Costs
To overcome institutional sameness, many companies outsource some or all of their content production to a content writing agency like Content Pros. In fact, 64% of B2B marketers outsource their blog production. Agencies hire quality content writers and vet them based on their experience with a specific subject or industry and can match you with the best writer for your projects. Plus, it can be less expensive than hiring an in-house writer, especially if you want an expert in a particular niche.
Producing content can be easy. But producing quality, effective content that engages your readers and incites action is much more challenging and time-consuming.
Overcoming institutional sameness is easier and more realistic when you can leave the heavy lifting to a diverse team of quality content writers. By making fresh, engaging perspectives your top priority, you’ll be able to continue delivering high value and insights to your readers and make them look forward to reading your next piece of content.