Need Fresh Marketing Content? Do a Content Audit
Save Yourself Some Time by Doing a Content Audit as Your First Step
Need to fill up your content calendar? Before you even think about writing, do a content audit. This is one of the most effective, yet overlooked steps in the content generation process. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking you need fresh content to get started, but in reality, you probably already have some useful material in your existing collateral.
As a first step, gather all of your company’s marketing materials and create a library. This can include online and print materials new and old, such as:
- Sales literature
- Annual reports
- Press releases
- Previous newsletters
- Existing blog posts
- Guest articles
- Magazine articles about your company
- Old interviews
- Videos of product demos/discussions
- Case studies
- Reference materials
- Advertising campaigns
When I do this, I:
- Print everything out and lay it out on a table.
- Move the documents into groups as I skim them and categorize them.
- Jot down keywords to identify what the material is about in the margins.
- Highlight quotes or sections that look like they could be useful for other articles, blogs, etc.
Your first pass should be to identify what topics you have materials for. The next step is to identify which pieces have content that can be updated and reused. In many instances, you can revise content fairly easily and in a much shorter time period than it would take to create it from scratch.
Following are some examples of existing content that may just need a refresh:
- Case studies. You may have some old case studies that share good information but the customer name is no longer appropriate. In this case, replace it with a generic name. Instead of using “Abbott Insurance,” replace it with “One of the world’s largest insurers.” If the case study is old, remove the dates. If it has great quotes by someone no longer there, replace their name with something like “Operations VP.” Another option is to interview the customer and revise it.
- Company articles. Company-authored articles, even if they’re old, are worth discussing with your team. A product manager may say, “This is old news, we’ve advanced our product since this was published.” Ask the manager what has changed and why. Product managers can typically concisely describe what is obsolete and what’s new and better. You can use their comments as a starting point for an updated article.
- Blog posts. Blog posts are a great source of content that can be used in the “right now” and gathered for a larger project. Look over a series of older posts and see what can be repurposed. Is there a common theme that can be used to create a white paper or e-book?
- Newsletters, both online and/or older print versions, often contain useful but forgotten information. One newsletter I worked on had a recurring “Frequently Asked Questions,” or FAQ section with product usage tips. Although the company’s product had been upgraded since these newsletters came out, some of the FAQs still applied. We pulled out the useable content, updated it and created a new FAQ section on the company’s website.
- Corporate videos. A video that looks outdated can still be useful. In some cases, you can work with a video editor to revise and reuse it. Video scripts also can be mined for content. Customer quotes or testimonials in the video can be converted to short text quotes and used in other materials, provided they are officially approved by the customer and you don’t alter them after they’ve been approved.
- Product demo videos. These often contain the most concise descriptions of product features and benefits – even more so than written text sheets. I always watch them for this purpose. If the concept and script are really good but obsolete, they can serve as the framework to more quickly write a new script and produce a revised video.
- Slide shows. I’m always surprised by how much good material gets packed into presentations for specific events such as annual meetings, user conferences, trade shows, sales presentations, employee meetings, etc. Once the event is over, they get put on a shelf and forgotten, even though they’re usually full of great content and visuals. It’s worth reviewing them.
- Media interviews. Even if the interviews are old, you may be able to take sections of them and publish them on your website, newsletter or blog. If your CEO is talking about the company’s mission or vision of the industry, for example, this may be timeless enough to reuse, particularly if you haven’t previously shared it beyond a narrow audience.
These are just a few suggestions of ways to take a fresh eye to existing marketing materials. Look at everything you can get your hands on and ask questions about it all. Find out who contributed to the originals and, if you can, talk to them too. Ask them for ideas or stories of past campaigns that worked well. Many times, these conversations can result in unexpected ideas and hidden resources.
If you have any questions, please contact me. I’d love to chat and hear your ideas.
Paula Heikell is a professional content writer and author of marketing book, Mastering Content Generation: How to Write Quickly and Build a Rich Marketing Content Library. To read more of her blogs visit: www.wordwell.net.