Although businesses are always chasing after innovation, the way they approach business blogging, ironically, often lacks innovation. It’s not hard to see why. We all do it: when we’re tasked with doing something repetitive — whether it’s scheduling and writing a blog post every two days or washing our car — we tend to fall into a comfortable routine that, by nature, resists innovation.
One way to infuse your business blog with innovation is to leverage outside topics that already have massive appeal, and apply those topics to your business in unexpected ways.
- Combine Imagination and Fun with a Systematic Series
This method of leveraging outside topics provides an excellent blend of linear, logical thinking and abstract, creative thinking.
Step 1: Find a fun, broadly appealing subject that, on the surface, has nothing to do with your business, but on a deeper level provides useful analogies.
Step 2: Explore the topic in a systematic fashion that allows you to create a multiple post series.
For example, you can take a broadly appealing topic — say, ocean life (who doesn’t like whales, dolphins, and otters?) — and plan a blog series on marine life and how different creatures of the sea provide interesting analogies for best (or worst) practices in your industry: i.e. “Is Your Marketing Strategy a Shark, an Octopus, or a School of Sardines?”
Granted, if done with too serious a tone, this can easily drift into something ridiculous that sounds like it’s trying too hard. A creative approach like this must always carry a playful writing tone.
Another example would be using a popular TV show: i.e. “Which Mad Men Character Is Your Start-Up Culture?” This could easily stretch into a multiple blog post series that uses one theme or character from the TV show per article.
Let’s be honest. Blog content over-saturates our world. And there is a timeless truth that every writer of any genre must face: if you’re not having fun with what you’re writing about, your reader will likely not have fun reading it. But if you make your blog post a blast to write (with genuinely useful tips), it’s more likely that readers will have a blast reading it.
And if you do a thorough analysis of your topic, you can usually find multiple layers that will produce many blog posts as you explore your topic in a systematic way — within reason. (Wow, if your B2B audience enjoys the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that blog series could go on indefinitely if you’re not careful.)
- What the Overused Term “Storytelling” Really Means
The s-word can be found in just about every recently published marketing book on the shelf. Unfortunately, when businesses try to employ the “tell a story” technique (whether it’s their own story or someone else’s story for the sake of a blog post), it sometimes amounts to a boring narrative of facts that lead from point A to point B — with a loose sense of beginning, middle, and end.
If the marketing world is going to keep using this term, it might as well learn the art form from novelists. Every good story — as every expert novelist knows — carries these ingredients:
- A protagonist with a likeable personality.
- A goal that the protagonist is pursuing.
- An inner flaw in the protagonist that he or she must overcome to achieve their goal.
- And, often in addition to the inner flaw, there is an antagonist — an external person or thing that appears
at some point to try to stop the protagonist.
- Resolution to both the inner flaw and the external opponent: the protagonist eventually overcomes their inner flaw, and they experience a breakthrough in their maturity. This discovery often opens up the solution that allows them to defeat their antagonist (whether that antagonist is a “villain” or simply a barrier standing in their way to their goal).
It shouldn’t be hard to apply this formula to businesses. Every business has an inner flaw — something that other businesses can relate to — to overcome before they find success, and every business has some external antagonist — a market condition, some Black Swan event (i.e. economic crash), or other external adversity — before they find success.
The trick to a good story is combining the two conflicts — the inner flaw and the external opposition — in a way that builds the conflict until it arrives at a powerful resolution. (Of course, describing an “inner flaw” doesn’t mean airing all the bad laundry of a company, it just means pinpointing the internal journeys that made your business mature and flourish — journeys that other businesses can relate to.)
- Innovative Blogging = Failing Fast + Adapting Quickly
Innovation is more than just stirring your inner artist as you create imaginative content or craft interesting stories.
Innovation has a special relationship with failure.
As this special report about an executive briefing in Silicon Valley observes: “What do you call a scientific experiment that fails? Data. What do you call a business experiment that fails? Innovation.”
A blog is no different from a business experiment. Yes, there are proven methods and practices (SEO, viral content techniques, etc.), but when you’re trying to break through the massive white noise of the 4.2 quadrillion other blogs just like yours, you should never be afraid to strike out on your own.
But exploring uncharted waters requires failure. You need failure. It is not a seven-letter swear word. It is not a death sentence. Failure opens the door to innovation, assuming you react well.
And, if I were to boil a “good reaction” to failure down into one concept, it would be this: sprint through it.
Barrel through failure like a Hollywood movie car chase. Although becoming hesitant, fearful, or insecure when you fail can be normal emotional reactions, do not let them balloon into the dominant force and slow you down. Set them aside and move on from your failure as quickly as possible with an attitude of curiosity.
Reassess your blog, and try something new; and do it quickly with purpose and confidence knowing that your next failure might lead to your next big innovation — that sudden “ah hah” moment that turns your blog into a powerful, innovative thought leader.