Out of Content Ideas? Try Borrowing One or Two (Even From Your Competitors)
Many marketers spend their lives trying to differentiate their products through content.
Everyone wants their products to sound like no one else’s. Every marketer wants to establish such distinctiveness that their product is considered the outlier in the market (in the best way).
Content marketers want to own the answer to a particular customer’s need or a disproportionate share of conversations about the specific problem their products or services solve.
But that level of differentiation is nearly impossible. Mark Twain said, “There’s no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope.”
In the current AI-driven copycat culture, differentiation feels like a no-win scenario. Marketers trying to create that unique story or positioning avoid generative AI for fear that their contributions will introduce their secret recipe into the machine’s learning model. On the other side, many marketers feel generative AI’s content is “close enough for rock and roll” (to borrow a phrase from Nazareth).
Even if you could come up with something unique, it feels like your creation would quickly be copied (or learned) until it becomes just another drop in a roiling ocean of noise.
Is finding that uniqueness still a prerequisite to success?
No. And it never was.
Parallel play in content marketing
In 2016, two researchers studied how companies in emerging markets develop successful business models and differentiation. They found the more successful companies in a new industry didn’t worry much about being different. Instead, they focused on borrowing the best ideas from others in their space.
Borrowing ideas > copying ideas
Borrowing great ideas goes beyond duplicating. It involves taking a mix of ideas from other places and transforming them into something that becomes yours. That’s what Mark Twain described as a “mental kaleidoscope.” Successful borrowers twist and turn ideas into different combinations.
The pictures are new but built from the same old pieces of colored glass used for ages.