A marketing manager at one b-to-b technology client has come up with a clever way to repackage and reuse corporate knowledge. His executives are too busy to spend hours creating white papers, so he snags them for periodic audio interviews. The sound bites go up on the company's Web site as podcasts. Transcripts are posted on a blog and pushed out through e-mail promotion. The executives' remarks also form the framework for white papers, which are written by less costly junior staff.
This manager has discovered an important difference between the old and new worlds of media. In the days of print and the early Web, publishing information was the end of a process. Today, it's just the beginning. By reusing, repackaging and building upon a content base, you get a much bigger return on your investment than was before possible.
Wikipedia, the massive online encyclopedia, embodies this concept. Every article on Wikipedia begins as a single sentence but over time may grow to the size of a small book. Likewise, your online content can and should be continually refined and expanded. Ideas may begin on a single Web site, but they spread and percolate through a network of conduits. Content is never final.
Jody DeVere knows this. She's the founder of AskPatty.com, a service that trains and certifies auto dealers to serve female customers. Over the last two years, DeVere has assembled a trove of more than 2,000 articles and audio interviews contributed by everyone from association heads to NASCAR drivers. Nothing is wasted. Content is syndicated through RSS feeds to partner Web sites like Mommytalk and DivineCaroline. Every new article is promoted through Twitter and FriendFeed. Visitors to the site are encouraged to submit comments and exchange links. The more links and placements on other sites, the better AskPatty.com's search engine performance.
On the old Web, marketers posted new content and then dumped e-mail messages into a chute to promote it. The goal was to drive traffic back to a single Web site and, once the campaign was over, content was relegated to an archive.
In the new world, people set up outposts and partnerships all over cyberspace. These channels constantly spread information through feeds to achieve greater reach and search performance than you could ever get by yourself. Content is published in multiple formats.
Do you need topics for a blog? Haul out the white paper library you archived two years ago and update it. Then gather the updates together and create a new white paper. Interview the author for a video and post the audio track as a podcast. Syndicate through you partners. Repeat.
On the Internet, content never dies and is never final. Use that to your advantage. M