How to steal like a marketer

Morals and academia’s efforts to combat plagiarism can leave one feeling guilty about “stealing” great content ideas, but in the marketing world where you’re trying to find ideas to extend your brand’s message or communicate to your audience, you quickly find that Solomon was right: there’s nothing new under the sun.

There’s no concept that you’re going to come up with that is entirely novel. Plus, ideas in the content marketing world are the currency you spend to attract an audience, so you need to be consistently finding and borrowing ideas to take, internalize, and connect to your audience in a way that allows them to better understand you, your brand, your value proposition, your product mix, and so on.

Don’t think of it as stealing. You’re just taking inspiration and reframing it for the sake of better affecting your audience. So let’s talk about three places where you can find ideas to repurpose and make better content for your brand.

#1 — Other industries

You need to be paying attention to what’s happening in other industries and apply the core concepts that are working to your own brand. A perfect example here: If you’re in the B2B space, you should absolutely be following and keeping tabs on what the leading Direct To Consumer (DTC) brands are doing.

One way to do this is by subscribing to Web Smith’s publication 2 PM and pay attention to…

  • Who he’s calling out
  • Who he says is doing a good job
  • His index with all the leading DTC companies on it

All of those things are helpful to discern why DTC companies are effective, their storytelling trends, and what tools are they using to better connect with their audience. Then apply that to the B2B industry.

The execution they use may or may not relate to your brand but, at the end of the day, you’re still marketing to humans so you need to be able to take the storytelling elements that they use on a Direct To Consumer basis and extend that to the humans you’re marketing to in a B2B context (and vice versa).

#2 — Entertainment

The things that resonate with audiences on platforms like Netflix, HBO, and Hulu are going to work when it comes to your audience as well. Our head of growth applied this concept when he was at Vayber and selling a carpet cleaning product for a company called Stainmaster.

One of the insights they found out was that their audience of stay-at-home moms was infatuated with horror movies, so they created a horror-themed trailer about the Stainmaster products. This trailer went viral.

It tapped into a bunch of earned media for the brand and got nominated at the Cannes Lions film festival all because it tapped into a key trend about interest in horror films. By resembling something their audience liked, the Stainmaster trailer resonated with its viewers and the brand got the benefit of that.

Whatever is working in the real media and entertainment world can be extrapolated and applied.

If it can work for carpet cleaning, it can work for whatever your brand is.

#3 — Children’s books

Some of the best copywriting and simplest concepts can be found in books marketed to three-year-olds. Essentially three words and a bright color scheme are employed to attract attention.

  • Tactical writing
  • Very short sentences
  • Brief but descriptive explanations
  • Bright color schemes

There’s really not a lot of difference between a three-year-old and most of the customers you’re trying to get the attention of. Obviously, if they are to continue engaging with your content they would need to go deeper but—on that initial touch—the reaction that a three-year-old has to a page is the same reaction you want your customer base to have.

Don’t close yourself off to any idea source.

Idea generation is very difficult so you should not shut yourself off to any valve of ideas, regardless of how weird or different or similar the source of that idea is. It’s not stealing. You’re borrowing, you’re being inspired. When you take that idea and reframe it in the context of your brand, you make something new. That is a perfectly right way to go about content creation.