Find the holes in your marketing effort and learn how to fix them.Get Your Digital Marketing Roadmap


From the Trenches

Repurposing Content: It’s Like Turning Donuts Into Cake

Yvonne Lyons | July 1, 2019

Remember that commercial for Dunkin’ Donuts where the little donut man gets up super early every morning and says, “Time to make the donuts”? Like a hamster on a wheel, he makes his donuts day in and day out. People love donuts … but frequently, there are just too many. Do you think that little guy ever becomes dismayed at the number of donuts he has to throw out every day? All that hard work into the dumpster or donated at the end of the day, but either way, definitely not moving the needle for his little Dunkin’ franchise. Wouldn’t it be good if he could make something different out of those donuts and sell them again the next day?

Ok, I get that you might not want a cake made out of yesterday’s donuts, but all those Dunkin’ franchisees would be psyched. Because they’d be able to truly maximize the value out of unsold donuts. Here’s my question: Do you ever feel like that donut maker? Except instead of donuts you’re making content every morning because it’s “time to make the content” … over and over again.

We have, in fact, been making metric ass tons of content for the past decade. Five years ago, Mark Shaefer said we were in content shock because there was so much more content than people could consume. It took another few years for people to actually start understanding that Mark was right. They just kept getting on the hamster wheel to make more content, to the point that we are now drowning in it — in fact, 60-70% of content sits unused.

Every day, though, there are STILL people who get up to make more while they simultaneously search for a way to prove the value of that content. My suggestion: Stop cranking out content like donuts.

We have an advantage over the poor donut maker, my marketing friends. We are NOT making donuts. There are no laws about food preparation or worries about trying to turn a stale donut into something tasty in content marketing. All we need to do to get more value out of our content is to be SMARTER about how we create and use it.

Getting that value is not complicated: Start repurposing content today.

While it does take some planning, thought, and writing and editing resources, it will absolutely get you more value from the content you already have, allow you to engage current and new audiences on more channels and with different content formats, enable you to target buyers in different stages of the sales funnel, and reinforce your messaging (without boring your audience). And all for considerably less time and money than creating content from scratch.

Repurposing, Refreshing, and Repromoting

Let me take just a quick moment to clear up any confusion. Sometimes I hear people use the terms repurposing, refreshing, and repromoting content interchangeably. They’re not the same things, and while I’m not going to go into detail about all of that today (those are future posts), I do want to at least explain the differences:

  • Repurposing content — You are changing the format of your content, changing the target audience, changing or adding the channels on which you promote or engage that audience, or all of the above. You’re making a completely new piece of content (or multiple pieces) compared to what you originally had and may be promoting it all in totally different ways.
  • Refreshing content — You are using existing content for the same purpose it was originally intended, but you’re updating it. For example, you might take out the paragraphs about old technologies, fix any inaccuracies, and update sources.
  • Repromoting content — Here, you are redistributing content to new and existing audiences. No edits or format changes. You’re going for Round 2 on the marketing of your content.

Find Purpose in Repurposing: Four Key Questions to Get It Right

So, what is the most important thing to know about repurposing to get the most value out of your content? Repurposing content is not a random task that you tackle when you have some spare time. It has to be done with purpose. Meaning your approach to repurposing should be part of your overall content marketing strategy and planning, and then each individual piece you address also needs its purpose. That purpose could be to reinforce the message in a particular piece, or maybe to reach a new audience, or address buyers in a different stage of the buyer’s journey. Whatever the goal, when you think about how to repurpose individual pieces, remember that EVERY piece of content should be remarkable, so the quality outshines 99 percent of what is out there. Then you should consider the answers to these questions:

  1. What existing pieces perform really well? When you’re deciding what to repurpose, look at pieces that engaged your audience. What pieces received lots of social engagement? What content drove the most traffic to your website? Where did people spend time? (If your original piece of content was interactive, you’ll have even deeper data from user engagement to help guide choices.)
  2. What pieces didn’t perform well? I am not saying you should only repurpose the stuff that killed it when you promoted it. There might a piece with messaging that speaks to the core of what you do as a company that didn’t perform when you published and promoted it the first time. Take it apart and put it back together in a different way and then promote it again. Results might be totally different.
  3. Where can you change format to surround the castle? People consume content in different ways, so meet your audience where they are with a variety of content formats across multiple distribution channels. You could turn one piece of anchor content into videos, podcasts, infographics, social media content, and more. You can create 30 different pieces from that one anchor piece and deliver that subject matter to people in various stages of the buyer’s journey. If you start with a larger piece for users further down in the funnel, create smaller pieces and micro content to introduce them to your subject and engage them on social channels — maybe some you haven’t used in the past. If you have 10 blog posts all focused on one subject, stitch them all together with some editing to create an eBook for those ready to truly consider your service. The possibilities are almost endless for those willing to put some creative thought into it.
  4. How can you reach a different audience? Maybe you have a technical piece targeted to engineers. Repurposing could mean creating a shorter piece with similar subject matter that takes a less technical approach to address business decision makers, who need the info but not all the detail.


Start Working Smarter

Stop churning out content like it’s donuts. Stop leaning on the same content formats and get creative. (Dunkin’ makes up a new donut for every holiday, right?) And then stop sharing content in the same channels, in the same boring way you always do.

Instead, start getting value out of every piece of content. Create a strategy to repurpose and start showing real ROI on all the effort you put into content creation and distribution. When you truly begin to surround the castle by repurposing and promoting content effectively, you’ll get real mileage out of all the work you put into it — and you’ll see results.

Need some ideas for repurposing? Download “10 Ways to Generate New Content Ideas” or get in touch.

Related Resources

About Yvonne Lyons:

Yvonne Lyons is Right Source’s vice president of creative services, overseeing content and design for all of our clients. She ensures that all creative produced at Right Source is of the highest quality and is aligned with our clients’ business strategy and goals. Yvonne received a bachelor’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University in writing and literature and has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, branding and communications. You can find Yvonne on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn or read her other posts.