Content marketing is a voracious consumer of content. Where do you find yours?

We get this all the time.

A company will approach us to talk about B2B content marketing (which we love, by the way) and we’ll ask what content they have already.

“Nothing,” they say, “We don’t have any content.”

In our experience, this is… how do I put this… not true.

In fact, every company – EVERY company – is swimming in content. It may not be in a state that’s ready for content marketing yet. It may not be very customer-facing at all. But it’s not far off.

Here’s the thing: everything is content. (As the term content marketing takes off, it’s only a matter of time before someone asks, “What exactly is content-free marketing?”). You just need to find your dormant content and turn it into something useful. 

Where’s your content?

Hiding in powerpoint decks. Sales decks, investor presentations, process-focused slides…

Inside the heads of your people. Not just your smartest or most senior people; your front-line sales and support people too; and your product people.

In customer communications. Your customers are a prime source of Grade A content. Almost every interaction has at least the germ of a blog post.

In sales proposals. The things you use to get people to take out their checkbooks.

In promotional bumf. These days, marketers discount all those data sheets and product brochures and case studies as ‘old-school’ content. But there’s gold in those pdfs (if you’ve got the pan to swish it out).

In what other people say about your world. Journalists, bloggers, analysts and experts are all paid (in one way or another) to secrete content. Get your paper towels out.

In everyday working docs. Those banal process documents meeting reports, project summaries and status updates.

In emails. Your email store is absolutely packed with content ready to discover and unleash. In your In box and your Sent folder. Internal emails. External emails. Marketing emails. Viagra spam. (Okay, maybe not Viagra spam – although I did once write a post on it).

In your social channels. Stop tweeting and just listen to every one else’s tweets for a few hours. Dig under the self-promotional layer in every LinkedIn group. Peel back the social veneer of Facebook. Shine a light into the darker corners of YouTube, Slideshare and Pinterest.

Once you start looking for it, you start seeing content everywhere. Not just the surface scum that the curation robots harvest. Really valuable content.

The catch

The catch is that very little of this content exists in the ideal form for content marketing. In fact, almost none of it does.

Your job is to mine this content for the good stuff. Then smelt it, pour it into your moulds, let it cool, then pop out the shiny new content ready to take to market.

How to spot the good stuff

The good stuff has, somewhere inside it, one or both of these qualities:

  1. Insight into how your customers could do their jobs better. Any practical ideas or tips or principles that point out new ways to attack their nastiest challenges.
  2. A view on how their world is changing. Trends, themes, ideas and indicators that show how the status quo will soon be neither status nor quo.

That’s all you’re looking for. Nothing trickier than that. And it’s everywhere in and around your organisation. 

How to turn raw effluent into sweets.

To turn a barrel of crude insight into 164 litres of sticky content, you need to process it:

  • Filter it. Removing the self-promotional pollutants and ridiculous claims.
  • Boil it. Remove the faff and babble. Get down to what really matters.
  • Mould it. Give it the right structure and form for the ideas it contains. A blog post, eBook, video, Prezi, Slideshare, graphic…
  • Sand it. Take off the rough edges.
  • Test it. Share it with knowledgeable people who you trust to be honest with you.
  • Ship it. Get it to market and tell the people it’s aimed at that it’s waiting for them.

Just use it

Despite what thousands of neo-natal content marketing strategists will tell you, content marketing is not rocket science. It’s common sense with roller skates on. It’s about doing things that lead to shareable insights.

It’s about taking all the content assets you’re sitting on, and giving them a job to do.

You’re awash with content.

Use it.