November 17, 2016

Master Marketing Efficiency with One Simple Trick: Upcycling

3 min read

Written by: Olivia Perek-Clark  |  Share:


You know those word association games? Where someone asks you to say the first word you think of when they say "ketchup" and you're definitely a weirdo if you don't say "mustard"? Well, have you ever done one of those with the word "lazy"?

No? All right then, now's the time.

What's the first word you think of when you hear the word lazy? Go ahead, take a second. But only a second.


Was it: boy, like the furniture brand? Was it: bum? Was it: sleep? Pajamas? Couch potato? (That's two words!) Any of those would have made sense. But we're willing to bet our finest reclining chair that you didn't choose the one connection we're here to talk about today: efficiency.

You're probably thinking, "Of course I didn't choose efficiency! Who would? YOU'RE the weirdo!" And maybe you're right. But after spending some time last week at INBOUND 2016 thinking about all the ways laziness can spur efficiency, and how efficiency really enables laziness, too (in only the best possible way), we can't help ourselves. That's the association.

One place where this association is especially clear is in content marketing.

How Upcycling Lets You Be a Better Type of Lazy

We know you've heard the phrase, "Work smarter, not harder." This idea is just like that. When you upcycle content, you're making your content work harder for you. But let's take a step back. What is content upcycling?

As Salma Jafri, the YouTube host of Content Marketing Tips, told us in her INBOUND talk, definitions of content upcycling are somewhat personal. What content upcycling looks like for you might be different from what it looks like for your neighbor. Often, upcycling gets lumped into a narrow definition: using something for something else. Here's an idea that's a bit more expanded:

Content upcycling means converting content into multiple formats for the purpose of adding value and bringing the content into circulation again, perhaps for a new audience. It is repurposed, but also reused. It is about giving new life. But it's not recycling. The item you produce needs to be equally as valuable or more valuable than the first item. It cannot depreciate the value of the first item.

So where do you start? First, there are some base ideas you need to grab hold of and run with.

• Marketing is an expense. Content is an asset.
• Good upcycled content should be able to stand alone.
• The topic and the information is the content. The infographic or video is the content format.

Understanding these three ideas should help you realize that, though applying one content idea to 10 varied formats may seem like a lot of work, it's much easier than creating 10 disparate content pieces based on 10 separate ideas and letting them slowly depreciate.

So you see, we're back to thinking about laziness!

It's important to remember, said Jafri, that if you want to be lazy and smart, you'll need to spend the majority of your efforts in the creative stage. That's where the magic happens. By leaving room for varied formats based on one content idea, you save yourself tons of time in the distribution and promotion phases of content marketing. (It's worth noting that there are tools to help you create efficiencies in the creation process, too, such as Haiku Deck for presentations, Showbox for video production, any number of infographic building tools around the web, etc.)

Benefits of Upcycling: More than just Marketing Efficiency

Jafri outlined some of the amazing benefits of upcycling content that might seem out of reach if you've never done it before:

  • It puts the focus on creating better content
  • It's awesome for SEO
  • It extends your reach
  • It extends visibility without repetition/annoyance
  • It respects your audience’s learning style/preferences

To gain these benefits, you have to know how to get started. We loved these tips Jafri highlighted at INBOUND:

• Build a list of content types you could create, including interesting standouts like speeches, workbooks and live videos.

• Only consider upcycling content that's evergreen, serial or authority-based.

• Know that some content is not a good upcycle fit. Trends, fads and ideas without a central theme won't make the cut.

• Begin to define success. Remember that all upcycled content needs to be able to hold its own. As Jafri puts it, it doesn’t depend on the other pieces you create to be successful, so there’s no reason to measure it that way.

• Choose your tools. That list of types/formats from the first tip? Find a tool to help you with each. Add the tools to the list.

Unpacking Upcycling

There's a lot to think about here, and diving in headfirst might not be the right course for you. If you're hesitant, we suggest watching Jafri's talk for some examples of excellent upcycling to see how easy it can be.

And we promise if you upcycle content the right way, you'll see the value emerge quickly. Not only will you be equipped for efficiency, but also laziness. That's something we never thought we could say!

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Topics: Demand Generation

About The Author

Olivia is the manager of New Breed's Inbound Team. She excels at helping clients identify, build and execute scalable demand generation strategies using the HubSpot ecosystem.

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