Marketing collateral is likely one of the biggest resource hogs in your organization.

Whether you are running a business, heading up an advocacy group, or volunteering for some sort of non-profit, the need to market never goes away.  Which means, in turn, that the need for new creative materials to use in your marketing or advertising never goes away either.  Marketing collateral, especially when done well, takes quite a bit of time and energy to develop and produce – and we’re not even talking about the cost of outsourcing your needs.

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Perhaps you are one of those folks who volunteers for a non-profit group; perhaps it’s a charity, a volunteer organization, amateur sports or activities club, or similar.  You may think that you don’t create or use marketing collateral, but I can assure you that you do.  Every time you post on Facebook, send out a Twitter, update your club blog, or generate an email to your member base to get them more involved, well, that’s marketing collateral you are creating.

I have worked with a lot of business owners and marketers over the years, and I notice that the same scenario pops up over and over again…  marketing or advertising managers constantly want – rightfully so – fresh materials to run ad campaigns and to use in marketing promotions.  While there is nothing wrong with creating new marketing collateral, if you have a “one off”, or “use it and toss it” philosophy, you’ll be spending a lot of time – and therefore money – on wasted collateral.

Not every piece of collateral is worth using again.

Before I dive into the most efficient and effective ways that you can refresh your marketing collateral by recycling instead of always creating from scratch, the first thing I want to touch on is this point.  Some of the materials that you, your staff, or outside agencies, create, is going to be crap.  That’s just the way life goes sometimes.  Every piece of every campaign isn’t going to be effective, or even that good.

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In the battle to reduce costs and maintain effectiveness, you have to determine what content is reusable and what is destined for the rubbish bin.  You’ll gain nothing from re-using ineffective content, and you should also be able to distinguish which parts of a specific campaign are reusable – so my suggestion is that if you aren’t doing A/B testing on the various parts of your campaigns, now would be a good time to get that set up.  I’m not going to delve into it now, but I will put it on my list for a future article.

How Can You Effectively Reuse Your Existing Collateral?

If you’ll think of your existing collateral as a series of building blocks, that are (hopefully) organized around central themes, ideas, or campaigns, then you can take stock of what types of marketing collateral you have on hand, and what format you currently have on hand.

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The next thing you’re going to need to examine is the types of distribution you are currently using, and whether or not you are supporting those methods in a robust way.  If your company has a social media account on every platform under the sun but you don’t go back and engage with users on any of them, you’re likely just wasting your time posting updates to those platforms.  But you never know when you might get a search engine hit from a social media posting, so you’ll want to pick and choose your platforms that you ‘bother working’ versus the ones where you are just broadcasting.

For us, we use Google + to “broadcast”, meaning we don’t check to see if anyone commented, and if they have left comments, we don’t continue the conversation.  We’re in it just for the SEO opportunities, so we push our new posts out to G+, and we rotate our reposts for podcast episodes there as well.  We never really could figure out how to make G+ pay off, so we have pretty much abandoned it, even though we do get a steady number of click thrus from the posts.

I’m sure at least a handful of people are reading this post and calling me stupid, since I’m sure you make so much money from G+ that you think I am being foolish;  perhaps, but I never could figure it out so I moved on to what I can do well.

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Top 10 ways to get the most from your existing content.

I’m going to use a single podcast episode as my example for where, when and how you can recycle your content into way more than the original creation.

 

  1. We pick out topics based on our audience and what we want to talk about in a particular cycle.  Sometimes it’s online marketing, sometimes it’s state legal cannabis, sometimes it’s events promotion.  Each of these (and plenty more) topics are directly effected by a client or prospect deciding to sign up for our platform and wanting to learn how to better use it.
  2. We create a notes board in Trello, with all the salient talking points, work out a bit of a loose script for the episode, and organize all of our supporting data and links on the board.
  3. We record the show.  In post production we add an intro about rating or reviewing the podcast on the users native app, we point out the URL for the podcast, and where to get the show notes for the podcast on the URL.
  4. We create the podcast episode in our website.  Since we use WordPress (like so many other people) to create and maintain this site, we have a master style guide for how we write and produce posts, podcasts, and other portions of the site.
  5. We include pertinent information for SEO, social posts, etc, in the original podcast episode.  We tag it, categorize it, and otherwise label it so that our automated distribution plugins will push it out to almost every place it will end up; we save our Podcast Marketer pass updates for the next week (we release new episodes every other week), although we use a very simple formula for updating the passes, and you can see it in action by signing up to get mobile updates for the podcast HERE
  6. Later in the week after the episode has been released and all of our social accounts have posted the new episode update, we follow that with a blog entry on the podcast production site (DominoResearch.com, in case you are wondering) at the end of the week.  This serves two purposes – one is to reiterate to people who are paying attention that we have a new episode, the other is for SEO relevance without repetition and the other is to keep the new episode release alive in our social media feeds.  (In a later post, I’ll talk about how we turn our blogs into video clips and use those to extend our promotion.)
  7. As I mentioned in #5, we release a new episode every other week, on Wednesdays currently.  On the alternate Wednesday (ok, sometimes it’s Thursday or even Friday) we update our Podcast Marketer pass with the new episode details, which generates a lock screen notification to all of our mobile subscribers.
  8. We’re distributing our podcast episodes on iTunes, Google Podcast App, Stitcher, TuneIn Radio and a few other feeds that have picked us up independently, and some of these platforms – like Google Podcast App – send their own lock screen notifications on the day the new episode drops, which means we’re getting a mobile notification EVERY week via some means or another.
  9. We have a repost feature set up inside our website that randomly sends out a social media post for a single podcast each day.  That means all of our Twitter, FB, G+, etc are pushing old episodes every single day.  While this may sound strange, you would be surprised at how many people will occasionally catch a Twitter mention and listen to the episode – it’s one of the primary ways that we continue to get fresh traffic and ears to the podcast from old releases.  There’s nothing wrong with the older episodes, and after spending all the time and effort to research, record and release them, you had better believe we’re going to ride them into the dirt trying to get people to listen to them.
  10. We generate a portion of email newsletters from the RSS feed for the podcast episodes.  We run several mailers and they are sorted out by topic, and when we publish the new episodes and the supporting blogs, etc, those are all tagged with triggers for inclusion in these email newsletters.  Our email newsletters also have their own triggers set to automatically post to Facebook and Twitter, so we’re adding another repetitive element into those feeds, and possibly catching more eyeballs that didn’t see it the first time since the organic reach for all social is so low these days.

You know, like the ION network that only runs re-runs of old procedural series all day, every day?

We’ve just come up with the bright idea to take our podcast episodes, and recycle them as well – in the same way that a 70s rock band has ‘greatest hits’, we are doing a ‘best of’ mini-series inside our podcast, and we’re pulling out the best episodes – either based on total number of listens or the ones we just happen to like – and excerpting them into new episodes featuring the old content.

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For instance, if we have 15 episodes about how you can use our platform to create and execute a much better events strategy (provided you are actually producing an event, which a lot of our clients do), then the option of listening to a couple of episodes that pull the ‘best of the best’ content and repackage it, along with new narration so you know exactly what will be covered on the compilation episode, can literally save you hours of time listening to old episodes or walking back through the search feature to try and find something specific you are looking for in our materials.

In case you’re wondering, we intend to publish and promote these ‘best of’ series in the exact same way we would any other episode – we’ll have the additional blog post, the Podcast Marketer update, the rotation in the repost feed and the mailer.

One other important note about repackaging and reusing existing content –

Make sure that you are putting a fresh spin on every use of your marketing collateral and content.  Simply saying the same thing over and over isn’t going to work very well, especially if you want search engine traffic.

This offers you the opportunity to be creative, to try different words and different styles of writing, graphics and video editing.  Again, I will say that content or collateral that missed the mark initially probably won’t be improved by widening the distribution, so you should probably give that some thought when you set up your criteria for what content is worth recycling.

The last thing to consider is consistency.

If you are going to start a program like this, you have to be willing to see it through for at least six months, likely closer to a year, in order to start reaping the real benefits.  Many of the assets you’re recycling can be turned into long tail products, but dumping the idea as too much work (when it’s really a lot less work than building all new stuff all the time!) or unproductive before you’ve had a chance to watch your traffic or sales stats is just bad judgement on your part, IMO.

 

Lots to think about, eh?