Once you’ve established an efficient strategy and created content your audience wants, it’s time to take the next step: Determining how you’re going to re-use it.
It’s just too much work to create a piece of quality content to write it, design it, post it, Tweet it, and forget it. So before you even start outlining that whitepaper, ebook or byline article, determine how it can be used, for instance, to help feed your hungry blog.
Plan to Repurpose
There will be people who say that using the same basic content in different ways is somehow cheating the reader. This just isn’t the case. Prospects don’t spend hours consuming your marketing content looking for duplication. They do want to hear from you in different ways. And if, by chance, they see something that looks familiar, they’ll just move on, no harm done.
So in thinking about the structure for long-form content such as a whitepaper, figure out how it can be easily adapted into say, four blog posts. Is there enough information there for a news release or two? Each blog post and news release can refer to the whitepaper and have a Learn More link to it, driving prospects to that content.
In content creation, repetition isn’t a problem. A lack of engagement is a problem. So don’t just use content. Use it again and again.
Get on the Same Page
So much of our work today is done by email, which is great for quick communications but not the best place for an in-depth conversation. Creating a piece of marketing content takes a conversation, one that should culminate in a written outline.
An outline can detail:
- The format (whitepaper, ebook, etc.)
- The working title
- The purpose of the content
- The search visibility keywords to be used
- How it can be repurposed
- A summary
- The various sections or angles to be covered
- The calls-to-action
- The necessary approvals
- The date final copy should be completed
Insist on an outline. If your piece of content is an interview, use the completed outline to develop a list of questions. Ideally, the questions will cover every angle contained in the outline.
Run the outline and the interview questions by the subject matter expert before the interview to get buy-in and to help him or her be better prepared. You’ll get better answers when your expert has time to think about the questions.
Take your time here and get this right, because an outline will save you time later.
Own the Ideas
Marketing organizations – internal and external – are there to provide marketing services. In content creation, they help frame stories, clarify audiences, identify calls-to-action, and develop engaging content.
The expertise, the experience, the thought leadership – the ideas – have to be provided by the subject matter expert. Having that expert voice is one of the biggest influences on the success of the entire content creation process.
Sure, you can ask a content writer to gather up some relevant information online and whip up an eBook. But will the depth of that content be right? Will the messaging be on point? Will the end result make a prospect want to do business with you? Will it create a hero?
Hate bothering your subject-matter experts? We get that. Spread the responsibility and recruit some new ones. Make the interviews quick and to the point. Interviews can be about more than one topic. We once developed a dozen content ideas from a single interview.
So by all means let others own the process. But you should own the ideas.
Edit Yes, But Add Value Too
At last! You have draft copy in your hands. Here’s your chance to make this baby shine.
Do yourself a favor and don’t spend a lot of time line editing the copy. Instead, add precision to the language and sharpness to the messaging. Resist the temptation to add a comment like, “This isn’t really what we’re all about.” Instead, take a minute to recast the passage the way you want it. It’ll save you time going back and forth with the writer, who will immediately see what you’re looking for.
Give feedback overall. A quick note to the editor or writer about what you like and don’t like is vital information, especially if you’re doing a series of pieces. A managerial approach here helps. Writers are people, too.
Provide tools. If a piece of content needs additions, try to supply your editor or writer with base materials from which to work or direct them to the relevant place on your website.
Keep the circle tight. You don’t want to hide content from people in your organization, but you don’t want to let everyone in the company take a whack at it either. Too many opinions will water down your message and bog down the process.
Watch the clock. Hopefully, you have an agreement with the writer on when you’ll declare victory and send thecopy off to be designed. Try to stay on schedule.
Know when to let it go. Content can always be better. But at some point it’s time to get it out there and let itdo its job.
Work the Plan: Distribute, Integrate, Repurpose
It’s finally time to hit the button. But this isn’t goodbye. In some ways, it’s just the beginning. Now you can:
Share it using social media. Notice we didn’t say promote it. Instead of announcing to the world that you have a new piece of content, share with the world some of its most valuable lessons.
Give it a home, preferably one with a door. You’ll want visitors to your website to know you have something new for them, so make sure they can see it’s available. But at the same time, make sure you get something for your content, such as an email address you can use in your other marketing efforts.
Let the repurposing begin. With your long-form piece complete, you can now snap it apart into several blog posts. Each of these can appear over time with a note about how readers can get more details by clicking on a link and getting the whole thing.
Learn What Works
Our content not only speaks to prospects, it talks to us. It tells us how many clicks it attracted, what actions its readers took, whether they responded to the calls-to-action, and so on.
Now it’s time to measure the goals we set back in the planning process. If you’re new to content creation, hopefully those goals were attainable. The key isn’t to knock it out of the park the first time up, but to learn what works. That’s the information you need to improve.
Content creation is a process in every sense of the word. We all want to devote more of our efforts to kinds of content that are most effective. Finding the way there takes experimentation and a commitment to keeping up to date on the best practices in a still- new and fast-moving industry.
But the payoffs are well worth it. By creating heroes with content, you’ll be one too.