Basically, I like to think about it as the 101 Dalmations of content. It’s so extremely eye-catching that you can not miss it. Once you get your hands on it, you love it. And it’s incredibly memorable. In short, it’s worth investing in.
And while it’s best practice to take this 10x lens to all of your content, it’s particularly important for your big content bets — or landmark content as I call it.
Luckily, it’s quite simple. All you need to do is compare apples to castles.
Let me explain…
After deciding to invest in landmark content, lots of folks will go out to say UberSuggest and input competitors’ websites and see what their top performing pillar content is. And then, they’ll say, hey we should do that! The difficulty lies, as John Maynard Keynes said, “not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones.”
Essentially what they’ve done is apples to apples comparison thinking.
The problem is, you have to give people a reason to use your version. Which means you’ll need to think creatively about how your version will be different and better. And building that “better” might make the trade-off of even building it at all not worth it, because it could take a lot of resources.
Yes – regardless of whether you decide to build a similar tool or just use it to inform your strategy – you do need to know what your competitors are up to. That’s definitely an input on your landmark content mission. But you can not stop there!
You must also do apples to oranges thinking, to generate the best original ideas.
I know, you’ve been told your whole life not to compare apples and oranges. But here’s the catch: there’s more that unites apples and oranges than divides them. They’re both fruits; round; they’re about the same size; and they both grow on trees.
We’re terrible at seeing connections between seemingly dissimilar things. So we try not to associate them. But breakthroughs happen when we “spot the similarity in the dissimilar, and recombine apples and oranges into a creative soup,” according to Ozan Varol in his book Think Like a Rocket Scientist.
Steve Jobs – who borrowed from calligraphy to create multiple typefaces and proportionally spaced fonts on the Macintosh – knew this, once saying: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.”
Another example is how Larry Page and Sergey Brin adopted an idea from academia–the frequency of citations to an academic paper indicates its popularity–and applied it to search engines to create Google.
However, because it’s such a challenge for us to compare and contrast slightly dissimilar things, I’ll even go further and say, you’ve actually got to do apples to castles thinking, before apples to oranges. In short, take two things that seem like they could not be further from being connected and see if there’s any commonality or takeaway.
By starting with the most extreme type of brainstorming, of two far-and-away unrelated things, and thinking about what could be in common with them, you’ll begin to kickstart your curiosity. Because creativity changes as we age, we really need to give ourselves the permission to be incredibly wacky to start sparking connection and ideation.
So the next time you want to create landmark content take these steps:
- Sure, see what your competitors are up to (oranges to oranges). And also…
- Apples to castles: Think about useful tools and content in physical stores or in cities; your favorite toys when you grew up; the most useful tool in your home; the most popular books at the library.
- Apples to oranges: Explore content created by top brands in any field. Input companies you admire into UberSuggest. Then think creatively about how the core of their content could be applied to your field or your brand vision.
- Check out what companies who aren’t competitors but who are perhaps adjacent or share similar audience interests (your partners!) are doing.
- Think about content angles in newspapers and magazines and podcasts and TV shows and plays.
- Examine your top performing content today, and your worst performing content (need to get rid of any self-confirming bias about what might work!).
- Learn from your customers by surveying your customers about their needs. And analyze customer support and chat tickets, and reviews.
- If you have an idea board or community customers can submit to, check those out.
- Chat with some product and sales colleagues to get their thoughts. Ask them what takes them to the websites of some of their favorite companies, or if they’ve heard any prospects express a pain point.
Seems too simple right? It is! And it really works. Now you’re well on your way to phenomenal landmark content that will pay off big-time.
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