How elastic is your content? Can you stretch it?


I started thinking about the elasticity of content after I came across some findings in the October 2014 Taking the Pulse report by the Australasian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA). This report is a benchmark of business development and marketing activity in Australasian law firms. 

The report showed that in the top five activities where dollars were spent, 45% of dollars were spent on in-house events (as in seminars) and accounted for 42.5% of time. Conversely, one of the bottom five activities for budget spend was thought leadership (represented by white papers, research, book publishing) which accounted for 2% of their budget or 5.3% of their time.

What surprised me was the disconnect between the events and the thought leadership activities. To hold an event takes a lot of time. There are logistics to organise, people to invite, the topic to plan and the material to prepare. In house seminars are in themselves thought leadership events so the potential to stretch the seminar material to other mediums is certainly possible. It looks like a missed opportunity for the firms involved. If their investment of time and material into events was extended to other content mediums they could maximise the value of their effort. 

Does your content have stretch?

Whether you’re about to plan an event or develop your next thought leadership piece, consider if your topic area has elasticity. If it does you can make your content travel further and longer. You can spread your content across many channels, repackage it for different formats and deliver more value to your clients by exploring it in depth.

The trick is to plan ahead and be strategic about the topics you choose to make them work harder for your business. Once you’ve created unique content for one purpose look for ways to extend it and disseminate it wider than the original purpose. Regard it as your obligation to your clients to share your seminar material beyond an event. Not everyone can attend events although they might want to keep up to date with what you have to share. Make it easy for people to hear what you have to say and share your material in user friendly format too.

The stretch test

To check the elasticity of your content ask yourself these questions:

·         Does the topic have arms and legs, as in other related tangents, I can explore? Use a mind map to test how the topic can extend.

·         Does the topic have sufficient complexity to allow me to go deeper into the area and provide more value to my audience?

·         Does this topic have a use by date? Or will it be relevant beyond today?

·         Do I envisage updates or new developments in the topic area that will require me to revisit and update the material?

·         Will my clients benefit from a deeper exploration of the topic? What’s in it for them?

·         Can I involve professionals from a variety of practice areas or business units to make the topic richer?

The deeper you can explore your topic the greater you can leverage your material and make your effort last longer. When your intent is to deliver your audience your best information and thinking, the value of your content is likely to be greater to your audience and your firm considered more valuable too. It’s best to make a few topics work long and deep, rather than feature many topics that run shallow and have little relevance after their first outing.

Flex your content muscle across other mediums

Once you determine whether your content can be explored more deeply you can extend the material across other mediums. However, always tailor the content to suit the medium especially if you intend to use different social media platforms.  It’s tempting to blast all social media channels in the same way however this isn’t best practice.

Although not an exhaustive list, here are some ways to repackage your content:

·         Videos you can post to your website or start a YouTube channel

·         Ebook or special edition newsletters

·         Technical updates or submit articles to industry publications

·         Create infographics to use in proposals or presentations

·         Podcast series where you interview topic specialists

·         Slideshare presentation of the event highlights and key topic points

The options are only limited by your imagination and the preference of your clients. There’s no need to create material in a format no one values.

One last tip, revisit the material you’ve produced in the past and see if it could be freshened up and brought back to life. It’s worth a look. 


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