Reduce, reuse & recycle your content: Waste not, want not marketing

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This Earth day, look for ways to conserve creative energy and marketing resources toward a clear goal - your audiences and your bottom line will thank you.

“Earth Day isn’t a real holiday; we don’t have off from school,” spoke a wise 9-year-old I know. I’m also sitting at my desk this Earth Day, but with a different attitude. Earth Day is a day for work … or action: Countless cities worldwide are going green in honor of the 2014 global theme. Projects range from cleanup activities to education initiatives on how (and why) to preserve energy. The collective goal is to create and execute a plan that will last year round, making better use of finite resources. 

It’s a lesson and mentality that every business should embrace. The No.1 challenge marketers claim they face in their content is lack of time. But how much time and money are wasted because of disorganized strategies? So this Earth Day (and every day), take a moment to stop pounding that keyboard, or goading your production team to churn out more videos, and ask where the marketing plan can become more efficient.

Take a moment to stop pounding that keyboard, or goading your production team to churn out more videos, and ask where the marketing plan can become more efficient.

Building a leaner strategy requires planning, strong communication, room for creative growth and smarter analysis. Leaner strategies aren’t always lighter on formats – but they’re more thoughtful. They yield content that’s more interesting and meaningful for users, and, in turn, companies get more mileage out of their marketing efforts.

Consider the Earth day mantra to evaluate a marketing plan.

Reduce

If you can’t quickly identify the purpose of an individual piece of branded content, stop investing in it. Ask where it adds value – to your users, your strategy and your bottom line. Like turning off the lights in an empty room at high noon, you should pull the plug on content if there’s no idea about who the ultimate consumer is or how that piece is benefiting your business goals.

Content marketing is not, as a colleague put it, an all-you-can eat buffet. But some companies treat it that way. The more-is-more mentality only works when there are enough resources and time to invest in each individual piece. Even then, it’s often the case that more planning (over more collateral) separates the good from the great. A series of videos that create standalone and connected stories are better than an endless stream of clips that come off as scattered.

Still, the data shows marketers really are putting more money behind their content this year: An Adobe survey found 36 percent of companies identified content marketing as a top priority for their organizations, making it the most important element of web marketing overall for 2014. Nearly half of B2Bs report they’re increasing spend on digital content. But to get the most out of this content, brands should emphasize their strategies over the quantity of articles, graphics and more. 

Recycle contentHere’s a quick checklist to see where you can cut the waste in content marketing: 

  • What is the intended goal of this particular content?
  • How can your brand do something different with this information than competitors?
  • Why is this format the best solution for the goal?
  • Where will brand personality fit in?
  • How can you communicate about this content with the team, and how will you ask them to amplify it?
  • What metrics will this content be held against in (two weeks? two months?) time?

Added incentive to consider a reduced volume in favor of more heavily resourced projects: For those who still cite SEO as the “goal” of their content, Google has said websites don’t get better rankings simply for having more pages. They stand to benefit because they have more of the kinds of pages that users find valuable.

Reuse

Once you’ve highlighted core investment areas within your own content campaign, make sure you’re repurposing high-priority assets into multiple formats to expand marketing opportunities. In other words, look for the obvious and useful byproducts in the content creation life cycle.

Look for the obvious and useful byproducts in the content creation life cycle.

For instance, a LinkedIn study shows white papers are considered one of the most time-consuming types of content to produce. This makes sense – they require a lot of original research, combined with high-caliber analysis. But the work that goes into creating a top-notch white paper can be extended to fuel myriad web content needs.

As an example, take that white paper and slice and dice it to produce:

  • A blog series: Give a less academic take on each of the core sections in the paper, and supplement  individual posts with interviews from internal experts in different areas.
  • A series of “info stat” graphics: Each can depict a bite-sized nugget of information from the white paper – perfect for sharing on social media.
  • A webinar or trade presentation: Use the research in the white paper as the foundation for virtual or in-person events that connect you to prospects.
  • Landing page enhancement: Keep information-hub pages on your site fresh with updated statistics (or your visual info stats) that highlight demand for offerings.
  • A video: Invest in an animated or presenter-led clip that gets across core, high-level insights from the research.

Disclaimer: Each of these suggestions requires a new investment of time and resource.

This approach requires some added resource, but it still allows a brand to take research already completed and make it accessible and engaging to a wide range of audiences who may prefer to interact on unique channels.

Recycle

Disposable content is exactly the type of garbage people are trying to tune out and search engines are trying to punish. Good content has a good, long life, and it should be helping companies gain traction with new audiences over time.

Don’t be afraid to take things out of the archive. Content that intstructs readers on how to do something is proven to have a long shelf life (and it’s typically evergreen in nature). But even more news-y pieces can be revisited in light of timely events or circumstances. If a company wrote an op-ed on, say, market predictions when a new compliancy law is introduced… or baby bump predictions around the latest celebrity buzz …these pieces can be re-shared with users a few months down the road with commentary on how right (or wrong) the prediction proved.

True fact: Some of Brafton’s most widely read blog pieces in the past month were posts created in 2013… even 2012 in one case.

Go green

When you take some time to conserve creative energy and marketing resources for a unified goal – and invest the campaigns that really matter – you’ll create content that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

If you’re interested in more on this topic, my colleague Francis and I are co-hosting a webinar on May 13 – Repurposing your content: Do more with less. You can sign up to join us, and explore other ideas for #SmarterContent strategies.

Happy Earth Day. Go lean, see green* with that content.

*As in money.

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Katherine GriwertKatherine Griwert is Brafton's Head of Marketing Content & Communications. She has covered SEO, social marketing and new media news for several years. Katherine has a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing has been featured in a number of web publications.
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