The Value of Repurposing Content

When light-colored denim came back in style a few years ago, I was in luck. For some reason, I had held onto a paid of designer jeans in that style for years. Those jeans, worn with the right accessories, made it into regular rotation in my wardrobe. Score one for my wallet.

Just like fashion, certain content can be repurposed and updated quickly and easily to bolster your content marketing without a lot of expense. We recently performed a content inventory and repurposing that cost a fraction of what we would have paid for new content altogether.

The key is knowing that there are certain pieces of content that should never see the light of day again — the Hammer pants, rattails, and disco suits of your content closet.

Should I be repurposing content?

Most often, we see brands revisiting old content when embarking on a rebrand or new website or channel launch. It’s sort of like when you’re refreshing your wardrobe, rooting through your closet and deciding which items to keep, donate, or toss.

Old pamphlets and other print materials can round out the content on a website. Information from an old PowerPoint training presentation can be repurposed as a “how-to” on your website. A white paper can be republished as a series of articles.

Classic Denim Cool

You’ll want to first perform a content inventory, ensuring the pieces you reuse consist of your greatest hits. You wouldn’t wear a pair of jeans that never looked good on you in the first place — even if they were back in style. For example, no matter how hard I try, high-waisted jeans will never, ever look right on me.

Fortunately, when it comes to content, you can rely on hard data to determine the pieces that performed well. For the inventory mentioned above, we took an archived blog and began with the top 50 posts by page views.

There is a misconception that repurposing content doesn’t require any editorial retouching. In fact, all content should be revisited, to update facts, figures, strategic focus, relevance — and especially voice and style for consistency.

It’s like wearing a classic piece of clothing from your wardrobe. Yes, you can pull off the little black dress from years ago, but you wouldn’t pair it with the same butterfly clips and choker necklace you rocked at a Y2K party.

Chances are your corporate voice has evolved since that 2005 white paper was published — the same goes for editorial style. Are you using title or sentence case on headlines? What about the serial comma? How about the word email?

Mullet Lame

The key to success is understanding that reworking a story can often take more time or money than writing one from scratch. Some pieces require too much work — the voice or style is way off or the writing is just plain bad — and those should probably be tossed. The same goes for content focused on current events or data-intensive copy — if it’s not from the same calendar year, just get rid of it.

In the example cited above, we kept the stories that would still be relevant and wouldn’t require wholesale rewriting. That narrowed the pool of reusable posts down to below 30. One writer and one editor reworked each post for voice, style, and timeliness — and the whole project saved quite a bit of time and money.

The times that I’ve seen content repurposing work best are when it’s very focused. For the example above, we repurposed content from an old blog to fill out a website’s archive upon relaunch but relied on fresh content to fill the upcoming editorial calendar.

Keep an eye out for hidden gems in your marketing portfolio, but work smart and kick the unsalvageable stuff to the curb.

Not sure which content to revamp? Contact me; I can help.