July 18, 2017
Here’s something you probably know all too well: The content sea is packed with fish. In fact, the better analogy might be likening the state of things to a can of sardines.
Often, it can feel like you’re Waldo in a “Where’s Waldo?” puzzle – just one more look-alike in an overcrowded picture.
In this climate, it’s hard to stand out. It’s an uphill climb – or upstream swim – to pull away from the pack.
This ends up being a Catch-22 – in order to pull away from your competitors, you have to differentiate yourself. In order to differentiate yourself, you have to pull away and move in a different direction.
How do you do it? How do you put propellers on your brand, crank the wheel, and go?
I address this issue, and how to solve it, in this piece for Search Engine Journal (SEJ). In it, I talk about an essential factor you have to understand inside-out in order to get moving on your own unique path.
This little key is called your Content Differentiation Factor.
What’s a Content Differentiation Factor?
For a thorough explanation and discussion of the Content Differentiation Factor (CDF), read my original course at SEJ.
Here’s what it means in a nutshell:
Your Content Differentiation Factor is the essence that separates you from your peers. It’s your unique perspective that gives you an edge, that makes you worthy of being heard as an expert in your industry.
To figure out what makes your brand tick, you have to ask some in-depth questions.
- Who is your audience? What are their pain points?
- How can you help them better than your competitors?
- How can you reach them with content?
- What are your goals for that content? What do you want to achieve?
These queries will help you boil down what you’re trying to accomplish and the unique perspective you bring to the table.
To help you understand just what CDF looks like in motion, here are some brands who have successfully separated themselves from the masses.
3 Brands with A Stand-Out POV
If you need examples of how to be unique within your niche and make a statement, take a look at these stand-out brands. Each has managed to differentiate themselves from their competitors in wildly different ways.
Makeup and skincare brand Glossier has set itself apart from the pack – gaining a huge cult following in the process – by reveling in simplicity.
This is in stark contrast to their competitors, who seem to be keen on presenting products that are wrapped up in fancy packaging and tout unbelievable benefits. If you’re not a beauty expert, these products are intimidating.
Meanwhile, Glossier seems meant for women who prefer to keep their makeup low-maintenance and easy. They want you to look like you, only better. Indeed, their top-selling products have girl-next-door charm and approachability with simple, modern packaging and names like “Boy Brow,” “Cloud Paint,” and “The Balm Dot Com.”
Their tagline says it all: “A Beauty Brand Inspired by Real Life.” Now that’s refreshing.
2. Warby Parker
Warby Parker is another brand shopping designer eyeglasses and sunglasses, but it has managed to stand out through its style and brand story.
The problem the founder had was totally relatable – he lost his glasses on a trip, needed new ones, but couldn’t afford replacements.
Warby Parker uses great adjectives here to give power to its brand mission: “revolutionary,” “rebellious,” “socially conscious.” The mission is also simple. It wants to give you cheaper options for great-looking glasses. It also wants to donate glasses to people in need. Period.
The company seamlessly sets itself apart from competitors in one fell swoop, setting up the other guys as money-grubbing and greedy. This is a great example of a powerful CDF.
Soludos isn’t just a shoe brand. These are shoes for your next getaway or journey to parts unknown.
As such, its content marketing is incredibly consistent. From its website to its Instagram to its other social media accounts, it’s all about travel, discovery and adventure – and doing it in comfortable, durable, trendy, walkable shoes.
These are shoes with a purpose, and it’s incredibly tempting. It’s easy to scroll through their wares and imagine yourself wearing them on some Mexican beach vacation, wandering through the streets of a village market.
In short, Soludos differentiates itself with a honed, focused perspective that emphasizes travel, timelessness, and craftsmanship. It wants you to feel like you could have bought your new shoes on vacation from a local maker. Then you wore them every single day of your trip because they were so cool/comfortable. It’s no wonder these shoes are on the feet of fashionable ladies everywhere.
Find Your CDF and Revel in Your Unique Story
Taking all of the above brands together, what’s the one thing they all have in common?
They take their unique story/perspective and they run with it, full speed ahead. In fact, their story informs everything they do.
Once you discover your own Content Differentiation Factor, you can do the same thing. Find your uniqueness, hone your mission and purpose, and let those be your guide for your content. Soon enough, you may find yourself swimming away from the other guys and moving into uncharted waters.
Julia McCoy is a top 30 content marketer and has been named an industry thought leader by several publications. She enjoys making the gray areas of content marketing clear with practical training, teaching, and systems. Her career in content marketing was completely self-taught. In 2011, she dropped out of college to follow her passion in writing, and since then grew her content agency, Express Writers, to thousands of worldwide clients from scratch. Julia is the author of two bestselling books on content marketing and copywriting, and is the host of The Write Podcast. Julia writes as a columnist on leading publications and certifies content strategists in her training course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia lives in Austin, Texas with her daughter, husband, and one fur baby.