Creating content is a pain in the puppy. (I'm watching my potty mouth, you guys.)
That's coming from someone whose entire job is to create content. But if you're a multi-tasking marketer -- creating email campaigns, building landing pages, managing a staff, tweaking your PPC budget, designing calls-to-action -- content creation has likely been elevated from a royal pain to a practical impossibility. I mean, maybe you'll get a blog post written in a couple weeks. If you're lucky, a new lead generation offer could get pumped out once a quarter. And an infographic? Ha, maybe next year.
If you identify with that overburdened inbound marketer description and are constantly frustrated at your inability to create as much content as you'd like, this is the post for you. Because we've been there, man. And we've worked with thousands of customers that struggle with the exact same problem. Needless to say, we've gotten mighty creative at finding solutions to content creation shortages -- solutions that are usually right under your nose! So here you go ... here are 17 sources of quick content that can help you out in a pinch so you can keep feeding that hungry inbound marketing machine of yours.
17 Sources of Quick Marketing Content That Are Right Under Your Nose
1) Tap your sales and services teams.
The best marketing content is the stuff that answers people's common questions. And there's this whole slew of people working at your company -- the sales and services pros -- that are fielding people's questions all day long. Not only do they know the common questions; they also know the answers to them. Like the back of their hand, in fact. Ask them to write down the questions they get asked all the time, along with the answers they give. If the answer is meaty enough, it can stand alone as a blog post. Or, you can compile several questions and answers for a kind of FAQ-style blog post or downloadable offer!
Tip: If you record your calls for training or quality assurance, you can also use the recordings to transcribe questions and answers if you don't want to bug your sales and services teams.
2) Pull from your company collaboration tool.
Many organizations -- especially as they grow and struggle to scale internal communication -- adopt online collaboration tools. We have a couple here at HubSpot, one of which is an internal wiki on which we post, among many things, educational pages with content we think others might benefit from. Sometimes, these pages are also veritable gold mines of marketing content.
For example, we recently released a brand new ebook, 7 Awesome Analogies to Help Explain Inbound Marketing. Guess where that content came from? A page on our wiki where an inbound marketing consultant posted an analogy he uses with customers to explain inbound marketing ... and the comments on that post from other consultants with the analogies they use to explain it. Thrifty use of brainpower, eh?
3) Interview an internal expert.
A few things I'm not an expert on:
Which of the twelve remotes on my coffee table turns on the TV, which turns on the DVD player, and which turns on the cable box
How to French braid
The innermost workings of email spam filters
Unfortunately for me, my job requires me to write about that last one. Fortunately for me, we have an email deliverability expert on staff that knows ... all about the innermost workings of email spam filters. That's why we could publish this post -- "How Marketers Can Avoid Those Dreaded Email Spam Traps" -- without dropping everything for a day and researching the subject matter. We read an article on the subject, popped over to Email Expert Evan, and learned everything we needed to know in a fraction of the time. What I'm trying to say is, talk to people that know more than you. What they have to say is really handy, because you can quickly learn about a new subject matter, using their brainpower to power a brand new piece of content.
4) Interview an external expert.
This is just taking tip #3 on the road. If you have connections with experts or thought leaders in your industry, ask them if you can set up a short interview with them that you can turn into a blog post. If you conduct the interview over email, the writing is already done for you. If you do it over the phone, simply record it and transcribe your conversation -- there are even transcription services you can pay for if you're really strapped for time. You get some quick blog content, and your interviewee gets exposure to a new audience. Everybody wins!
5) Pull excerpts from lead generation content.
In April, we launched a new ebook, How to Unlock the ROI of Your Marketing Analytics. The thing's like, almost 100 pages. So we didn't think we'd be giving away too much to grab some of the content contained therein -- maybe just a part of one of the chapters -- and repurpose it as a blog post. In fact, teaser content like that helps promote the ebook, helping you get more downloads (read: more leads), as well as helping keep your blog afloat.
Just put a disclaimer of some sort in the post like you see above. It ensures everyone knows exactly where the content came from, and gives them another opportunity to download the offer if they liked what they read in the blog post.
6) Bundle your blog content into lead generation offers.
The love fest between your offer content and blog content works both ways. If you're jonesin' for a lead-gen offer, take a look at the blog content you've written. You'll probably find you can bundle a lot of those posts that center around a similar topic into one lead generation offer. For example, if you're a SEO consultant, you might have a bevy of content around long-tail keywords. Pull together the best of the best for a free long-tail keyword optimization kit!
Boom. Lead-gen offer. I mean, why reinvent the wheel?
7) Turn written content into visual content.
Do you have design talent? Does someone in your company? Do you have the budget to outsource design work? All or some of the above? Cool. Keep reading this tip.
Usually the hardest part of creating visual content is coming up with the concept. But if you already have the concept -- say, in another blog post you've already written -- you can turn that into a content visualization in a jiffy! Take our blog post, "7 Shameless Tactics Marketers Use to Lure an Audience," as an example. That post performed really well, so we handed it over to a design-minded employee and had him turn it into a funny visualization -- check it out here!
8) Wax poetic on camera.
Not interested in writing or design work? Well go get gussied up, because it's time to step into the limelight. Great marketing content takes many forms, and one of them's video. Think of a topic your audience would like some advice on, and conduct an interview with someone that has some good perspective on the issue. Alternately, you could hop on camera solo and give your two cents on the subject! Here, take a look at an example of this ... it's literally 30 seconds worth of content creation work.
9) Screen capture how-to content as you're teaching it.
There's more recourse for the writing and design averse. You -- and lots of people within your organization -- are teaching people things all the time. Whether it's next time you're training a new employee or you're hopping on a screenshare with a customer to walk them through a process, those are fantastic opportunities to create how-to video content. Just grab some screen capture software (there are several options out there; Camtasia is one of my favorites that offers both a free and paid version) and record yourself in action!
10) Write out the steps of your how-to videos.
And now that you've created a how-to video, you can put that content in another format! Hey, some people like to learn by watching, some like to learn by reading. Write out what you taught your audience in the video, incorporating screenshots where appropriate to walk readers through a process without making them turn on their speakers.
11) Solicit content from guest contributors.
If you're hurtin' for content, consider leveraging guest contributors to help feed your content machine. This can come not only in the form of guest blog content -- where bloggers write content for you and typically benefit by getting inbound links to their site within the content -- but with co-written offer content, too. For instance, we'll often host webinars with co-marketing partners that benefit both of us, because we each get exposure to one another's audiences, as well as help in the content creation process.
12) Turn presentation slides into SlideShares.
Speaking of webinars, those things typically have slides, don't they? They sure do! Turn the slides you use on webinars -- or any other presentation, for that matter -- into marketing content. You can publish those slides to your company SlideShare account, and then embed those slides into a blog post to amplify the impact. If you're looking for a little guidance on how to make the most out of SlideShare, consult this blog post.
13) Record presentations.
Speaking of presentations, if someone in your organization is a stellar public speaker, see if their speeches can be recorded and uploaded to your YouTube account and, of course, your blog. For example, we launched HubSpot 3 at our marketing conference, INBOUND 2012, during a keynote address. So what did we do? We recorded it (obviously) and published the video to YouTube and in a dedicated blog post just for that video.
14) Compile compelling data.
People flipping love data. It makes them look smart, it's easy to share, and it tells a big story in very few words. That's why compilations of data -- whether as a blog post, an offer, or both -- are fantastic ways to come up with quick and successful content. Continually bookmark research studies and articles with interesting content so you don't have to go data diving ... you'll just have an arsenal to work with all the time!
15) Turn everyday tools into downloadable templates.
Think about the work you do every day. Of those tasks, what are the things other people might want to know about? Figure it out, and make it a template. It might even be a template you already have!
For instance, we've recently launched a series of templates to help marketers ... do marketing. And these are all based on what we do every day, so it was easy as pie to create the templates! Take a look:
If you have multiple buyer personas, it may help your conversion rates as well as your content backlog to tweak your lead generation offers to align with your buyer personas. Think about it ... if you have one persona who works in enterprise level organizations and another that works in small businesses, don't you think your content should be edited to speak in their terms? This not only helps you create more personal marketing content, but it also doesn't make you go back to square one to launch a new offer. You already have the framework; you just need to make a couple edits here and there!
17) Set contribution requirements.
Finally, you shouldn't bear the burden of content creation all on your own; ask employees to pitch in and share a bit of that burden with you. Depending on the size of your marketing team, you could set contribution requirements for each person (this is ideal for a smaller marketing team) or for each sub-team (this is ideal for a larger marketing team). So you might require everyone in your team to write two blog posts a month, and one lead generation offer per quarter. Or, if you're working on a very large team with many smaller teams with rapidly shifting priorities, set content contribution requirements that jive with the team's size and monthly priorities. Remind them that creating content on a regular basis not only keeps their writing skills sharp (or design skills, if that's their superpower), it helps them build up an online writing portfolio that will come in handy for the rest of their marketing careers.
What other low-hanging content fruit is out there that marketers should leverage?