Developing Your Content Inventory

December 04, 2015 8:34 am


Developing Your Content Inventory

Possibly unaware of it, you probably already have a rich ccontent inventoryontent inventory.

If you have a website, write a blog or are active in social media, you’ve already been creating content even without a documented content strategy.

Today, very few professionals and SMEs start content marketing with zero storytelling assets on hand. Underdeveloped blogs, social channels, existing marketing and client communications can all become valuable components of your content strategy.

Before cranking up your content production take some time to analyze your current content inventory. The easiest approach is to analyze possible storytelling assets by using the following inventory categories.

Categories of Your Content Inventory

Given today’s easy access to communication tools, everyone who can access a computer has an inventory of existing content. This includes self-employed professionals and owners of SMEs.

In most cases this content is generated on a one-off basis, with little if any thought given to saving it for future use or reference. Fortunately virtually all content is now computer-generated, which means it has been probably been saved in one form or another.

If you don’t already have one, you are going to need a content management system (CMS). This system makes it possible to publish, edit and modify content easily and effectively. There are a number of CMS solutions available, including three that are free: WordPress, Drupa and Joomla!

I find that the WordPress solution works well for my purposes. Do some research to determine which of the many is best for you.

The major challenge of analyzing an inventory of content is knowing where to start. Generally speaking, content falls into one of five categories.

Advertising & Promotional Materials

This is the most obvious source of potentially useful content. This category includes fliers, brochures, informational advertising and all those other hard-copy communication used to promote a business. Some of this material can be revised fairly easily to contribute to the success of a content strategy.

Online Marketing Communications

This category of content includes everything from short Twitter or Facebook posts to more detailed web pages. The quantity depends upon online activity: the more active, the higher the volume. As for quality, some of it is quite good, some is just so-so and some of it is not so good.

Regardless whether content is good, bad or indifferent, it may have a role in content strategy. In many cases weak content can be improved or at the very least stimulate new ideas.

Be ready for a surprise when you start to analyze your online content. In my case, I found over a thousand blog posts and hundreds of pages of web content.

Offline Marketing Communications

These communications are conventional hard-copy and electronic marketing tools. They also include copies of speeches, presentations and published articles and content.

My offline inventory contains both hard copy and electronic content. Since I love to write, writing has been a common element in my marketing. Over the years, I have been a regular contributor to several newspapers and magazines. As a result, my content inventory includes several hundred published articles that are available for repurposing as part of my ongoing content strategy.

Similarly, because I enjoy helping adults learn, education and training have also been key elements of my marketing activities. Material prepared for these live presentations represents another source of potentially useful content in my content inventory.

Public relations in its various formats leaves a trail of potentially useful content. Where did you file all those speeches you gave to the Chamber of Commerce, service clubs and other organizations? What about that great interview you had with the local radio station or that specialized magazine? Once you start digging around in your archives, there’s virtually no end to potentially useful content you will find there.

Client/Customer Communications

Many successful professionals and SME owners believe the business that educates the most wins the most. As a result, client and customer communications offer rich, largely untapped pools of useful reader-friendly content.

Frequently client/customer communications are based on research-generated information. Like the communications themselves, this information also represents potentially useful reader-friendly content.

With some careful editing and revision, much of this content can be converted into valuable case studies. If interesting research findings did not find their way into the communications, there is no reason you can’t create a case study to illustrate the relevant points. That’s creative writing at its best.

Internal Communications

Unless you work totally on your own, isolated from all others, there is a constant flow of communication with associates, colleagues, network contacts, staff, suppliers and a wide range of other people. Much of this communication is written, taking the form of planing documents procedural and operating manuals, correspondence and other shared content. (By way of illustration, the outline of my SEO silo theming below was taken from an internal planning document.) Provided there is no violation of either confidentiality or copyright law, much of this content can contribute to the overall effectiveness of you content strategy.

As noted earlier, you will probably be surprised when you start to analyze your content. In all likelihood, your content inventory is richer than you thought.

Keyword Themes

Once the content inventory has been completed, the next major challenge is to sort this mixed bag of written material into a manageable order.

To bring about this seemingly impossible result, SEO Silo Theming serves as useful model. My web manager introduced me to this concept, while we were upgrading my website.

Essentially silo theming is about segregating themes into different ‘silos’ so that people and search engines can easily identify the main topics of a website.

In my case, we selected five themes to serve as silos.  Here is the overall structure:

  1. Marketing Professional Services
  2. Marketing Essentials
  3. Marketing Wisdom
  4. Marketing Trends
  5. Marketing Success

With this structure in place, it’s fairly easy to assign a location to each piece of content identified during the inventory. Those content pieces that don’t fit neatly into the structure can be group into a miscellaneous or left-over category. It’s like saving those odds and ends that might prove useful some time.

Once the structure has been populated with existing content, you can identify areas of abundance and gaps. These gaps will be filled with new content prepared as part of the overall content strategy.

Re-purposing Content

With the content now organized by category, you well positioned to re-purpose it as part of your content strategy.

Appropriate content can be re-purposed in various formats such as :

  • Blog/Social Media Posts
  • Web Content
  • Special Reports
  • Ebooks
  • Training

These formats will be discussed in a subsequent post.

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