First and foremost, this blog entry is fresh content. It’s not compiled from 15 other blog entries, is not also a podcast, and was not promoted last week via Twitter under a different title and byline.
Do you really care? Or more precisely, would you even know?
Marketing Sherpa released a chart showcasing the top tactics for developing effective marketing content and it should be no big surprise that repurposing and reformatting existing content came in at numero uno. Before you upcycle every has-been whitepaper in your “collateral tree” (my second least favorite tree, 2nd only to cedar) into a mish-mash of undigestible fluff, I thought I would add a healthy dose of caution into the conversation.
Point the First:
We’re all smart enough to know this, but I’ll say it anyway. Repurposing content does not make the resulting content inherently effective. This is where the sherpa’s may have over-sherpa’d a bit in the title of their article. “Top tactics for developing marketing content” would be a more accurate title, since their is no evidence in the chart to qualify effectiveness.
Point the Second:
Junk in, junk out. Bad content is bad, no matter how many different spins you put on it.
Now for a couple practical suggestions that I think even the sherpa-y-est of sherpas would agree with.
- The fact that you have a bunch of content sitting around does not mean it needs to be repurposed. Instead, look for buried gold. At my day job, we use personas to define all of our content needs. If the content isn’t answering a key question that one of our personas needs answered in order to move further down the buy cycle, we don’t prioritize creating it. So when we repurpose content, we are looking for ways to bring the answers to our personas questions into more prominent positions. An existing white paper may include the information the persona is looking for, but it’s buried deep inside the paper. Simply extracting that information and turning it into its own standalone blog post, or a quick how to video, may be a more direct answer to the persona question. For more on personas, I suggest starting with Ardath Albee’s book eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale
- Strive to make something truly new out of the old materials you work with. Etsy craftspeople aren’t successful because they take an old men’s shirts and change out the buttons. They turn old men’s shirts into woman’s dresses. The result is exciting and different and you can’t even recall what the piece originally looked like. I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve caught publications and companies in the act, reading an article today that I know I read yesterday with a slightly different headline and ending. This is called tiresome, copycat content. It’s plagiarizing yourself. It’s not a trust builder.
- Create every piece of content assuming it will be read and remembered. You and I know it won’t. But if you create it under that assumption, you protect your brand’s reputation from becoming a content mill like articlesbase
- Never promise what you won’t deliver. A major strategy over the last few years, in both marketing and media, is to give something an incredible headline that makes the user click – and then deliver an article that only scratches the surface of what the title hinted. It’s the content version of a bait and switch, and if I could drop everything I am doing and be profitable litigating content creators for baiting and switching, I would start that legal firm in a heartbeat.
- New topics deserve new, original content. Don’t muddy your brand’s position on a “trending” topic by rehashing messaging and content that is still “somewhat applicable.” Demonstrate your leadership with new thoughts, things people haven’t heard before, or at a minimum said in a way that they haven’t been said before.
- I said this in my recent post on being an effective content curator in the social media space, as well: Stay out of the volume game. It’s tempting for content owners to measure their worth in the number of things they create, and it’s a slippery slope. Kristina Halvorson’s book Content Strategy for the Web, 2nd Edition introduces (quite nicely) the concepts of content governance and maintenance and makes a great case for only creating what you need and are willing and able to perform upkeep on.
There is no denying the potential value of reusing – as one trick in the content arsenal. Just remember to ask yourself first if you are repurposing for a reason, or just repurposing. Your answer will be a major determiner in just how effective your content strategy is.