Halloween is Over but Skeletons are Still Here: How Content Skeletons Can Double Your Marketing Output

By Ross Beyeler

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As a content marketer, you're likely spending too much time creating one piece of content when you could be creating one dozen. While there is no denying that well-crafted content takes time, writing content is only part of the battle in successful content marketing. Finding effective ways of getting your content ‘out there’ is just as crucial as finding great topics to write about.

Perhaps even more important is the value of repurposing this initial piece of content into five, six, or even a dozen variations. By adapting your content to appeal to different target audiences, distribution channels and content formats, you can expand your audience reach while cutting down on your overall time investment. So let’s examine seven steps to building re-purposable content to help reach a larger audience.

1) Know Thy Reader

It's too easy to get excited about an idea and immediately put pen-to-paper (or fingers-to-keyboard) without first thinking about why you're writing the piece. One way to help identify the 'why' is to identify for 'whom' you're writing. Picture a specific person on the other side of the screen reading this content. Are you speaking to a prospective customer? Is this meant for industry peers? Will your mom be leaving the first comment? Once you've identified who's on the other end, you not only will you approach writing content in a clearer fashion, you'll also have a better understanding of how to reach that reader with the content once it's finished.

2) Mark Your Hunting Ground

Once you've successfully identified your reader, you'll want to give some thought as to where they spend time online. If your reader is a prospective B2B client, perhaps they get much of their news from LinkedIn. If your reader is a consumer, perhaps they get most of their news from Facebook. Knowing the channels that your reader participates in most actively will help you to understand not only where you should distribute this content, but how to format it as well. 

3) Select Your Canvas

Let's say your reader is a 45-year-old engineer who spends time reading industry blogs. In this instance, it might make sense to focus on crafting a long-form, technical guest post. On the other hand, let's say your reader is an 18-year-old tech-savvy female with limited attention. Perhaps you'd want to think of more image-driven formats such as an infographic to share on Pinterest or Instagram. The array of content formats is quite expansive and could include: blog posts, podcasts, presentations, infographics, ebooks, etc. Knowing your reader and where they spend their time online helps identify which format could be most successful.

4) Deliver a Punch

Great content inspires a result. This could be an action the reader takes, a new belief that is formed or simply some emotional response. Regardless, the reader should leave that piece of content feeling impacted. Identify this impact before writing your article. Think of it as the 'end goal' and craft your article with that goal in mind.

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5) Build Your Skeleton

Since our goal is to create content that can be re-purposed, consider approaching your content as a skeleton. First, construct an outline is flexible enough to serve as the basis for an article, a presentation or a podcast. You want a 'framework' that can be filled in with different 'content units' such as paragraphs, slides, questions or images. By crafting the skeleton first, you set yourself up to easily translate that content into alternative variations.

6) Rinse and Repeat

Look back to your original reader analysis of where they spend time online and what content formats might be appropriatechances are, you’ve identified a few channels and a few formats. Simply take the content skeleton and adapt it to fit each of the channel/format combinations identified. Write a long-form blog article for a niche publication. Record a podcast interview that's distributed through SoundCloud. Design a PowerPoint presentation that's posted on SlideShare. There are endless adaptations you could make using the basic skeleton. It's up to you to experiment.

7) Distribute and Measure

Not to be overlooked, you can't just post your content and hope it will find itself in the hands of your readers without a bit of work. Promote this content to your existing audiences via social media and email. Cross-promote content from one channel/format to another by referencing it as 'supplemental' material. Most importantly, measure the effectiveness of your content via tools such as Google Analytics (to see what drives traffic to your website), Bitly (to see what is shared most frequently), Hubspot (to see what gets downloaded), Disqus (to see what gets comments), etc.

These seven steps should help provide a structure for thinking about how to get more out of the effort you put into your content marketing campaigns.

About the author: Ross Beyeler manages Growth Spark, a Cambridge, MA, based agency that helps E-Commerce companies design interfaces that convert visitors into customers, implement technology to streamline operations and use analytics to guide marketing decisions. Since it's founding, Growth Spark has completed over 250 projects that led Ross to a nomination as one of BusinessWeek's Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25 in 2010. A graduate of Babson College, Beyeler has been a serial entrepreneur in the technology space with experience ranging from digital marketing, business development and strategic management. In 2007, he co-founded For Art's Sake Media, Inc., a technology company serving the art industry, and led it through seed funding, team building and product launch. Contact: Len Stein: [email protected] or 914.527.3708

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