The Imagination: A Sustainable Resource for Online Lead Generation
Join us at Entrepreneur magazine's Growth Conference, Dec. 15 in Long Beach, Calif. for a day of fresh ideas, business mentoring and networking. Register here for exclusive pricing, available only for a limited time.
Let's assume your company is creating content--blog posts, white papers, YouTube videos or podcasts--as a way to generate leads. (A survey by my company, MarketingProfs, and the Content Marketing Institute found that 90 percent of companies are.) You've embraced the mindset that useful or entertaining material can attract and nurture customers--and you've realized that creating it is hard work. It's a challenge to come up with content that engages customers and delivers results, not to mention to then produce enough of it and have the budget to fuel it. So, are writer's block and time or budgetary constraints cramping your lead-gen style?
One key to making the task easier and more sustainable is to reimagine your existing content. That means treating everything you create not as a "one and done" but as a critical piece of a larger whole, an important link in a sustainable content ecosystem--a circle of life, if you will. Here are three ways to reimagine your material to create your own sustained-content food chain.
Maybe you have large, meaty content assets--e-books, how-to guides, white papers, research reports--on your website right now. If they are valuable to your customers, then they are ripe for reorganizing. Deconstruct and repackage them into smaller pieces to reach as wide an audience as possible. Think chop shop: Slice up that e-book into a series of newsletter articles, blog posts or other shorter-form, more easily digestible content.
You can also do the opposite: Repackage tweets, newsletter articles, blog posts or Facebook comments into larger packages. Perhaps you asked an intriguing open-ended question on Facebook or LinkedIn Answers (something like, What's the worst business advice you ever received?). Curate the answers and craft them into a blog post or article. Alternatively, you could reorganize a series of blog posts; for example, put together your book reviews and create a report on "Our Top Reads of the Year." You can also use a tool like Storify to curate posts and images on a theme relevant to your audience; a garden center might assemble photos and text generated during a freak spring snowstorm.
Freshen your "evergreens"--those timeless items on your site that never go out of style. (They're the blog posts that are several years old but attract continuous traffic because they address perennial issues.) Evergreen content ranks highly in searches and attracts healthy inbound traffic, so it's worthwhile to dust those items off and republish them to ensure they stay relevant.
Similarly, look through your analytics to find material that was crazy-popular when it debuted. You can simply redistribute it--talk it up on social networks or in your newsletter--but it's better to rewrite or edit it to give it new life. Can you offer new information? Are there fresher examples or new numbers to share? Could you add a few "lessons learned" since the original post was published? Then, publish the update on your site, leaving the older version intact (and linking both posts together for extra search-engine juice).
In fact, consider augmenting any posts or articles with new information, stats or checklists, and creating a downloadable document behind a lead form on your site, requiring visitors to provide their information for access. You might even create versions that target different audiences, such as B2B vs. B2C.
This is a fun one. Remixing your content means re-creating it in another format--extending the ideas found in the original, but expressing them in a different way.
For example, you might take a recorded Q&A session from a webinar or live event and have it transcribed (use a service like CastingWords.com) into a blog post or newsletter article. Or you might interview the speaker via Skype to get additional answers, and release that as an audio download. You could create a video of clients quoted in your case studies, showing in a new way how your products and services help other businesses, users or consumers. Or you might take a series of photos from a company event and use a tool like Animoto.com to string them together into a fun slideshow. The options are limitless.
There are many tools you can use to organize your reimagined lead-gen efforts. Online calendaring systems--such as WordPress' plug-in, Basecamp or DivvyHQ--can help you think through and keep track of your content. Google Docs can provide multiple users with cloud-based access to scheduling and other documents. Even the lowly spreadsheet can help keep things straight. But, in my mind, the best tool for content development is often the most overlooked. And it's the very thing you need most: imagination.