Author   |    Speaker   |    Chief Content Officer


Creating ridiculously good content is hard. Which is why you have to squeeze every drop of juice out of whatever content you create—as C.C. Chapman and I wrote in the fifth “rule” in Content Rules:

“Reimagine; don’t recycle.”

“Recycling is an afterthought; good content is intentionally reimagined, as its inception, for various platforms and formats,” we wrote. “[C]reate content that comes to life in various formats, across many different platforms, and that can address multiple audiences.”

In other words, instead of using a “one and done” approach, treat anything you develop as pieces of a larger whole. View all of the pieces of content you plan to create as expressions of a single, bigger idea. Or, alternatively—if you are starting with something larger, like a white paper or an e-book—think about how you can create smaller chunks of shareable content from that single content asset.

Jason Miller of LinkedIn draws an analogy in his new book to a Thanksgiving turkey: The big roasted beast in the center of the table is the core content asset that comprehensively covers a topic you want to “own.”

That turkey is generally gated content—in other words, it’s behind some kind of registration wall.

But that metaphorical turkey can be sliced and diced and julienned and fried and fricasseed into smaller pieces of content—infographics, slide shows, blog posts, sales and event collateral, social posts, quizzes, and so on.

It’s not unlike how a turkey might be reimagined, in the days after Thanksgiving dinner, into turkey sandwiches, soup, quesadillas, samosas, nachos, hash, or stir fry. (Or turkey cake. Which is either awesome or awful. You decide.)

Image via Chow.com

Image via Chow.com

The smaller pieces are generally not gated, because the call to action on each asset leads back to the big turkey itself.

Our friends at Column Five developed an infographic that illustrates this idea. They call the smaller pieces “divisibles”—or, divisions of a bigger asset. But let’s stick with the turkey analogy here, since it’s Thanksgiving week and all… mmmkay?

The infographic is below. But before you consider the approach, two reminders:

1. Key here is to establish a single messaging focus—based on keywords or conversations you want to own or take a leadership position in.

2. Also key is that you create content that isn’t just one giant roasted, basted, stuffed infomercial for your company. Instead, your content should be useful, inspired, and pathologically empathetic to the needs of the people you are trying to reach.

You want a Thanksgiving turkey to be irresistible, tasty, and created with a generous dose of love for your family or friends or whoever owns the shining faces seated around the table. When it’s placed in the center, it’s a kind of holiday gift that the cook is delivering.

Your content should be the same: Irresistible, tasty—something they can’t wait to dig into.

Here’s how Column Five visualizes it (click to enlarge):

Divisible_Content_Soda

 

Divisible Content 101 via Column Five


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38 Responses to This Simple Strategy Will Stuff Your Business so Full of Content That It Will Have to Wear Its Fat Pants

  1. Chris Conner says:

    Hi Ann,
    I like the reimagining idea. It’s especially important for business that struggle to create content to understand they may not need new ideas. They might just need to spread their ideas around more.

    But if they don’t think about the possibilities ahead of time, it’s difficult to go back and pull out what they need after the fact. You can’t take the spice out of the cake after it’s baked.

    Keeping with the food analogy, what if we think of the answer to every possible audience question as an ingredient available for our marketing feast?

    Stocked with this collection of ingredients, we can “pre-imagine” many tasty combinations from awareness appetizers to delighted desserts. I encourage clients to think about all their ingredients before they combine them into their marketing content. It becomes much easier to see how many ways the answers can be combined or used on their own in different formats.

    And the meal is more satisfying when all the dishes work together.

  2. David Kemper says:

    Seems to me that, like a turkey dinner, recycling vs re-imagining is all about whose perspective the cook is taking: If it’s all about how the kitchen can get rid of leftovers quickly, then it’s recycling. If it’s about what the diners would enjoy eating, it’s re-imagining.

    A helpful parallel for me is remembering that different people have different learning styles – so re-imagining content is often about meeting my learner where they live…

    It’s not about ME.

  3. Jack Vincent says:

    Very cool post with appropriate imagery, particularly before Thanksgiving and especially because I don’t like stuffing but love cranberry!
    Have a great holiday, Ann!

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  9. Great post, Ann! I’m partial to the day-after Turkey Pot Pie filled with leftovers! Have a happy one!

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  11. Youllifeire says:

    I truly agree with the facts listed.Actually, recycling is only manipulating the old stuff,but re imagining produces an entirely unique content.A turkey concept will be awesome for the Thanksgiving.

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  13. Brilliant post, Ann! I gotta have me some turkey cake!! LOL

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  15. David Friedlander says:

    Great post, and possibly the best headline ever for a marketing article! It’s definitely sound advice for any marketer creating content.

    It seems like a lot of B2B tech vendors fall flat completely on repurposing content, let alone reimagining it. We write a dozen 10-15 page white papers with excruciating technical details, put it at the top of the funnel, then never extract chunks of more consumable interesting content. The long-form white papers are great as core content and there’s so much in there. I don’t quite know why, but many B2B tech vendors are content laggards.

    I’m going to skip the turkey cake, though 😉

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  17. Keith says:

    This is a great technique!

    I am totally going to use this!

    Thank you! 🙂

  18. Temenouzhka says:

    Great post with great basic idea, but I wonder – when you are talking about turkey why are you using this wonderful mouthwatering cake photo 🙂

  19. Ellie Thomas says:

    Hi Ann,

    I wholeheartedly agree with your insights about creating comprehensive content then using that to break-out and reformat for other sharing platforms. Recently I have noticed that many lifestyle bloggers regularly shift the order of these two steps, and it seems that they can be used interchangeably. For instance, many compile blog content that they have already created along with new content into an easy to access e-book. Likewise, they use newly created e-book content in blog posts to build excitement for the book. I think both of these approaches work well, and it is important to share this content across all different platforms for brand integration.

    Thanks for the post!
    Ellie

  20. Tanvi Gala says:

    Great post! I know now the benefits of Divisible Content and Content Marketing! The way you organized the visual definitely helped understand the success of it. I would love to know more about how you go about choosing specific platforms for the people you are trying to reach. As a Digital Marketing major I’m really interested in the social media and how you organize those platforms in the Divisible Content. Thanks for the post!

  21. Dave Wedge says:

    Hi Ann,

    I just discovered your blog for the first time and am enjoying reading through your posts.

    This approach makes such a lot of sense and is something I have been trying to do as I am always trying to improve my own writing. It gets easier with time and experience but like other publishers I know I find the process of trying to find the language and crafting quality content in the first place really tough some days.

    The lesson learned for me was that if you don’t reimagine content you have to constantly find new topics, and that is generally harder.

    For me turkey cake is definitely a step too far by the way.

    Thanks for the post, Dave

  22. Hugh Culver says:

    Thanks Ann-another great post!

    My favourite line: “Instead, your content should be useful, inspired, and pathologically empathetic to the needs of the people you are trying to reach.”

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