Curiosity is allowed to get the better of us – we’re not cats.

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It’s been a busy month: Three conferences in as many weeks. I’ve had the pleasure of attending Insights Marketing Day, The Insight Show and the MRS Annual Conference (OK, I’ll admit I’ve been a bit spoiled)! While each of them was quite different in content and reach there were some very common themes appearing across the board.

IMD was focused on ‘marketing for marketers’. Improving conversion, how automation can help our lives, creating a story for your brand and how to get your content to cut through. This is vitally important in a world where more content is made every 10 minutes than was made from the beginning of time until 2003. The theme of quality content came up again at the MRS conference: you can’t just ask for things, you have to give a little too. We’re told content should be interesting, relevant, informative, give something to the audience and not just be a thinly-veiled-sales-plug.

I studied rocks and space time theory during my degree. I’m a geek who likes spreadsheets and I really do love our industry. Only in market research do you cover topics as varied as boiler insurance to lingerie; My-little-pony to extreme sports. We spend a large part of our working lives, finding the solution to a problem, answers to questions, insight from data. We are people who are interested in people (and a fairly eclectic bunch when you start to discover how research crept up as an accidental career among psychologists, librarians, geologists and more). When it comes to generating content, I think the research industry is uniquely placed to create some of the most interesting and relevant work.

Curiosity might kill the cat – but not us

When freed from the confines of a typical client brief, there is almost too much choice for content creation. Do we need to be completely off-the-wall? Do we need to be totally original? Should it be provocative? What does the rest of the industry find interesting? (answers on a postcard please!)

While trying to decide how best to capture the “wow!” factor, stay authentic, relevant, useful, informative, helpful, etc., etc., I came to remember one very good piece of advice: You can’t please everyone all of the time so stop trying.

I see a lot of diluted marketing in my news feed these days; 5 things people should never do. 7 things people should always do. 10 ways to be an amazing balloon animal sculptor. All quite the same bland, regurgitated content.

Which brings me to the question: Does great content require great creativity?

I would say probably not. The joy of this being my brain-dump is, I get to answer my own question with the help of some recent learning from the conference circuit. I don’t think you need to re-invent the wheel to create something worth reading. However, I do think you need to be engaging. You need to have an opinion – even if it is an opinion on something someone else has written (something else I learned at IMD – thank you Priscilla @ Little Bird Marketing)! And I learned that there are only 7 main story types in the whole of the world history of storytelling (thank you Tom @ BrainJuicer), I think that speaks volumes about originality – the content doesn’t have to be ground-breaking, it just needs a little flair.

I’m lucky to have access to the Norstat UK panel – apparently it’s a little known fact over here: Norstat is not just for the Nordics, but have European Panels too! And with that I will be running some research. My curiosity knows no bounds… save the appropriate maximum length of an online survey. If you’re curious too, results will be out next month.

I think life is about having the mixture of the curiosity of an older person and the imagination of a child. ~ Daphne Guinness