It's one of the most common challenges I hear. Not just from colleagues, but clients, connections and friends. Everyone knows they need great content to execute an effective marketing campaign -- they just can't produce enough of it!
There's no getting away from it: Creating high-quality content is hard. It takes time, expertise and resources. So, if any of these are limited -- and let's face it, when aren't they? -- what can we do to make the most of the resources we have?
There are lots of ways we can recycle content. Obviously, I'm not talking about simply publishing one article again and again. It's about using each piece of content you produce to make the production of your next piece easier.
Let me explain this with a few examples:
• Images: Images are fundamental to the content marketing machine. Even the most text-driven content is nothing without the right image. So, how can we reuse the images we create? Well, it depends a lot on how you use it, but most images can be repurposed in some way. One good example is banner ads. Let's say you create a full set of banner ads for a particular campaign. It would only take a few very small adjustments and this whole set of ads could be utilized for remarketing the same -- or even a completely different -- product. This "recycling" will save your design team hours!
• Donuts: In the TV advertising industry, advertisers will often create what's known as a "donut." Put simply, it's a blank spot in the center of the video ad that allows different text to be inserted depending on the exact message they are trying to promote. This approach saves hours of editing and drastically increases the number of ads they can make with the same resources and budget.
The donut concept can be applied much more widely than just with video ads. You could apply this thinking to anything from podcasts to instructional videos or even written content like e-books or whitepapers. By creating a resource that can be easily adapted and repurposed for different functions and audiences you'll save hours of work and drastically increase the amount of high-quality content your team can produce.
• The "Template Mentality": The most important principle you can apply to scaling your content creation -- or anything for that matter -- is to fully embrace the "template mentality." Whether it's a blog post, landing page, case study or auto-responder series, templates will save you hours of work! Never throw anything away. If you've created something for a campaign, spend an extra few minutes removing the campaign-specific information and save the blank template somewhere your whole team can access it. Most importantly, let your team know it's there and encourage everyone to take this mentality with them into their next project. It won't be long before you've got a folder full of re-usable content marketing templates. For example, with case studies you can create the background imagery and placeholders for details like client info, challenge summary, solution summary, results, logos and supporting images.
Two Key Principles
The process of scaling your content relies on two fundamental principles:
Use Your Network
Sure, I know it sounds like I'm just being lazy here, but the most effective way to scale the amount of high-quality content you produce is to get other people to do it!
I don't mean you just sit back and let others do the hard work, I mean you must utilize your connections, your team and your partners. If you put systems in place that make it easy for people within your network to contribute content to your website or marketing campaign -- and make it worth their while to do so -- they will.
Think about it. How many followers do you have on Twitter? If just 5 percent of these people wrote a guest post on your site you'd probably have more content than you could handle!
And what about your team? Why do we rely on the marketing department to generate all the content? The sales team, customer service team and development team will probably have just as much to say. This is likely to be great content -- why not use it?
If you can learn to recognize opportunities to utilize your team and network in your content generation, you'll have no trouble scaling your production.
Sounds obvious, I know. But just like any other business process, your content creation is only going to be able to scale if you create robust systems to manage it.
I touched on a few ways you can systemize your content creation earlier in the article. Each time your team creates a new piece of content - this means anything from a tweet to an e-book -- they think about how they can turn it into a "system." And, once you have a system, it can be scaled, outsourced and economized.
An important element to bear in mind when you are creating these systems is that it's not just the "creation" that you need a system for. If it's going to work, you need to have clear protocols for each stage of the process. This includes brainstorming, repurposing, creating, collaborating, editing and publishing. You need to make the process clear and easy at each stage of the content creation process if it's going to work.
The creation of high-quality content will never be easy. It will always take skill, intelligence, originality and patience to create. However, there are things you can do to streamline your processes and make the most of your resources. If you can make the most of the human resources you have access to and create clear, robust systems that facilitate the creation of high-quality content, you'll see both the volume and the willingness to "create" increase significantly.