Content Strategy

6 rules for repurposing marketing content

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.

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

If curating content is easy, you’re doing it wrong: 5 tips for effective content curation

I’m just going to come out and say it upfront: good (read: effective) content curating ain’t easy. All the tweets and posts and tools out there telling you that curating content is going to make you rich and famous and set your Klout score (should you actually care) rocketing from 14 to 85 overnight are full of horse apples.

The general sentiment of many tweets and posts and curate-o-magic tools out there is that you can quickly copy and paste a little schtuff from here and there, post it to your blog, queue it all up in hootsuite or tweetdeck or whatevs, and that’s it – you’re a thought leader.

Ummmmm, no. There are content spammers, and there are content curators. Learn the difference – and five simple tips to keep you among the effective content curators.

Read More…

Know your audience: How I build “micro-personas” to make my presentations and emails more effective

If you want to get my attention, just tell a potty joke or compliment my creativity. It’s really that simple – doesn’t matter what you want to tell me, sell me, or convince me, there is one simple way to capture my heart and my mind. Okay, so I’m not quite that shallow – but truth be told, it’s absolutely true that I am more interested in how what you are saying applies to me (and what I get out of it) than any other angle.

Most people are like that, matter of fact. What’s in it for you? Much has been written by many other smarty-pants-es about how and why to build buyer personas. I’m a fan of Ardath Albee’s work in this area, among others – she’s shown me how to effectively apply the buyer persona methodology to B2B and technology. At the core of buyer personas is getting to what’s on your buyer’s mind – essentially, framing your content plan and the ensuing content you create around the things that are top of mind to the audience you seek to attract and engage.

Tonight I was building a powerpoint deck (eek!) to share the work my team has done recently on buyer personas with a diverse group of people from product marketing, public relations, program marketing, etc. I started with the obvious angle – the state of content, why it needs fixed, how personas will get us there, blah blah blah blah blah.

And then I thought back to the reason we created personas (personi?) to begin with – to make sure the content we are creating addresses the needs of our desired audience – hence, attracting them and ideally (if our content actually delivers effectively) helping them make good decisions (i.e. CHOOSE US!)

So why would I lead my pitch to a room full of non-content-strategists with my own stupid list of reasons why I think personas matter? My initial crack at the presentation I was building essentially told them why I cared, why I thought it should matter to them, and what the company – not them – got out of the whole deal. Really. Bad. Approach.  Read More…

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