When light-colored denim came back in style a few years ago, I was in luck. For some reason, I had held onto a pair of designer jeans like that for years. Those jeans, with the right accessories, made it back into my regular wardrobe rotation. Score one for my wallet.
Just like fashion, certain content can be recycled for a quick and easy bolster to your content marketing program — without a lot of expense. Here at D Custom, we are currently performing a content inventory to discover what we have in the back of the wardrobe — no ice queens or saintly lions so far — and we are finding quite a few blogs that stand the test of time. (If you have hit a wall when brainstorming blog topics, this is another way to help manage your editorial calendar.)
The key is knowing which pieces of content should never see the light of day again — the Hammer pants, terry-cloth tube tops, and shoulder-pad power suits of your content closet — and which ones are as classic as Chanel.
Speaking of …
Should You Be Repurposing Content?
When do you dive headfirst into that content closet? Most often, we see companies revisit old work when embarking on a rebrand, or a 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 — but, in this case, you’re deciding which content to optimize, update, or rework entirely.
There are plenty of ways to repurpose your content:
- 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 an online how-to or SlideShare.
- A white paper can be republished as a series of articles or blogs — or even an infographic.
- Old blogs can be updated with new information.
- High performers can be optimized and promoted (and re-targeted) to drive traffic to your site.
Classic Denim Cool
First, you’ll want to 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. In our current content inventory, we are using analytics as one of the determining factors when deciding whether or not a piece is worth repurposing.
We are also taking a strategic approach to our editorial retouching — incorporating new messaging; brand, voice, and tone changes; as well as revised buyer personas. All repurposed content should be updated to reflect these adjustments.
It’s like wearing a classic piece of clothing from your wardrobe. Yes, you can pull off that little black dress from years ago, but you wouldn’t pair it with the same butterfly clip, platform Mary Janes, and black tights 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 plain text email? We’re also making sure facts, figures, strategic focus, and relevance are all on-target and up-to-date.
A key component (and something we do just for fun) is re-optimizing your content against current standards in online marketing. This means altering the entire document to reflect your current SEO approach and incorporating all of your learnings about what’s worked on promotion (because you’ve been testing and measuring, right?).
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 roughly the same calendar year, there’s a good chance you’ll have to get rid of it or replace it.
In our content audit, we’re keeping the stories that are still relevant and won’t require wholesale rewriting, like — brace yourself — the one you are reading. A team of editors are reviewing posts for voice, style, and timeliness — and the whole project should save quite a bit of time and money (fingers crossed).
The times that I’ve seen content repurposing work best are when it’s very focused. For this particular exercise, we’re dipping into the archives to fill out our content calendar while we try some new content optimization techniques. We have three types of content we’re looking to repurpose, and it has to meet the criteria mentioned above. The effort should have the added benefit of giving us a little breathing room as we try a fresh approach to our content (coming soon on the DC blog!).
Keep an eye out for hidden gems in your marketing portfolio — but work smart and kick the unsalvageable stuff to the curb.