Canned Content Is For The Birds

Nearly identical birds

With canned content, your business is nearly indistinguishable from your competitor’s.

There are times when it’s really hard to bite your tongue. I had one of those moments during a recent conversation with a new client. While discussing their current marketing tactics and how we could improve their effectiveness, the client mentioned that they use email marketing to stay in touch with a large list of past clients and contacts. When I probed, she explained, “We subscribe to this great service which provides us industry-related content that we share to our email lists automatically. It’s really easy!”

My response? First, a deep breath; then count one, two, three. 

Easy? Maybe. Productive? Not likely.

Blogging and email marketing are very effective content marketing strategies that drive targeted traffic to your website. Perhaps even more importantly, they reinforce your credibility and demonstrate that you understand your clients’ needs through relevant, personalized and original content delivered to their preferred channels.

The problem with the “industry-focused content” lauded by my new client is that it is just thatindustry-focused. Not centered on your target client. Not capitalizing on your unique value proposition, your unusual (but proven) approach or your personal expertise resulting from decades-long involvement in your field.

Differentiating your business? Um, no …

I hear similar versions of the above client response altogether too frequently. I work with clients in various healthcare sectors, and they often utilize web hosting companies that specialize in a particular healthcare vertical. Such hosting companies may appeal to clients with the promise of an industry-focused website that integrates with their patient management software. Hosting companies catering to other industries may also offer key integrations — such as real estate listings sites for realtors — along with an industry website template.

While the importance of such integrations is undeniable, the “industry-focused” website has the same drawbacks as the industry newsletters: While “personalized” through insertion of your logo, company name and colors, the canned content and website template are virtually identical to your competitors’ email newsletters and website. Ouch.

A better approach

As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but that doesn’t mean there’s no value in industry articles such as the ones that wowed my new client. Rather than repurposing as is, instead, consider these articles source content to inspire your own development of assets such as Frequently Asked Questions or downloadable guides. Or, edited and supplemented with your own personalized content, they can even be used for email newsletters or blog posts.

Avoid the twin effect 

Follow these tips to gain value from canned content without becoming a mirror image of your competitor.

  1. Resist generic, vanilla content.  Unremarkable, dull and impersonal content neither impresses nor compels your reader to take action. Even if it’s factual, ordinary and uninspired content creates the impression that your services are also just average.
  2. Place your unique value proposition front and center.  Highlight the qualities that differentiate your business from others offering a similar product or service. Personalize your messaging and focus on your unusual or noteworthy approach, products or services.
  3. Leverage thyself.  Capitalize on your depth of knowledge as you build services and expert content over time. Use context-based links to enhance credibility and guide your visitors to additional relevant resources and articles on your website.
  4. Respect your readers’ needs.  Make “one size doesn’t fit all” your mantra. Rather than deluging your contacts with unwanted or off-topic emails, enable your subscribers to choose areas of interest and subscribe to specific lists.
  5. Keep the voice personal.  With animated language and personal stories, your words pop from the page to reach your readers. Apply a discipline to your phrasing, adding emotion and reinforcing your brand voice to intrigue and attract customers.

Ready to stop those generic emails in their tracks and elevate your website to the level your business deserves? We’re here to help 



  1. Gail Kauranen Jones

    Excellent article! Clear, concise and perfectly articulated. ORIGINAL content is a must–and readers know the difference!

    1. Online Amplify (Post author)

      Thanks Gail! Appreciate your comment. With all the blood, sweat and tears that it takes to launch a business, it’s imperative to differentiate it or all the investment can be for naught.


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