If you use blogging, article writing or email marketing as one of your main marketing strategies you'll know that one of the biggest roadblocks you face is being able to consistently produce interesting, valuable material that your audience is going to lap up.
Online you're competing against every other source of information your potential clients use. And that means that articles on “working smarter not harder” or revealing that you should be “working on the business, not in the business” aren't going to get you much attention (other than your audience thinking you're rather short of ideas).
Coming up with stunning new insights from nowhere in everything you write is a close to impossible task. But it is possible to feed the content beast by “borrowing” ideas (completely ethically). Here are some of the ways you can do it.
The first method is to take an idea and explain or illustrate it differently with a personal example. A lot of what I teach on selling skills isn't new to me, for example. But because I illustrate my teaching with personal stories of how I struggled with sales early on it becomes more interesting to my audience than just reading the theory of what a good sales meeting should look like. And it helps build empathy too: if a technically minded introvert like me can learn to sell then so can most people.
The second method is to take a general idea, and make it specific to your audience. When Hammer and Champy popularised the concept of reengineering back in the 90s, the initial wave of general articles and books was quickly followed by “reengineering for financial services”, “reeingineering leadership” and other more specific applications. If you can take a new idea and invest the time and effort into showing how it can be applied specifically for your audience, that creates great value for them.
And the final method is to take a specific idea from a different field and rework it for your own. Derek Halpern does a ton of this on Social Triggers, taking academic research into psychology in a variety of different situations and applying it to internet marketing. My short video on The Simple Strategy For Building Relationships Fast takes the insights from Ori and Ram Brafman's book “Click” on how a hostage negotiator built a human connection with his “adversary” and applies them to business relationships.
Each of those approaches allows you to create interesting, insightful and valuable content for your audience without having to come up with completely new ideas every time.
But the approaches all come with a couple of caveats.
Firstly, you've got to credit your sources. Mention who came up with the original idea. Not to do so is plagiarism of the worst kind.
And secondly, if you're transferring an idea across from another field; make sure it really does work in yours. Just because a technique works to wake up bored university students in lectures for example, doesn't mean it will get the attention of overworked business people on the web. So make sure you test to make sure that the ideas you transfer are valid for your audience too.