First and foremost, this blog entry is fresh content. It’s not compiled from 15 other blog entries, hasn’t (yet) been turned into a “Top 5 Tips” list, is not also a podcast, and was not promoted last week via 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 bullshit, I thought I would add a healthy dose of caution into the conversation.
1.) 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.
2.) Crap in, crap 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 BMC Software, we have trillions of white papers that range from brilliant to, well, dumb. There aren't many dumb ones, but there are plenty inbetween. If I dig for gold and only come up with a couple shades of dirt, I keep moving.
- 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 shit and change out the buttons. They turn the old men's shirt into a woman's dress. 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 fraudulent 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.
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.