In the current environment of economic hardship caused by COVID-19, many businesses are scaling back on content budgets. While we’ve made some arguments for the value of staying the course or increasing content during this time, we also know that financial facts are just that: Facts you can’t always ignore or sway.
But scaling back on your budget doesn’t necessarily mean substantially reducing (or stopping) your content production. And that’s a good thing, because content can be critical for communicating with and providing assurance to your customers and audience during a time of crisis.
Check out these five tips for stretching your content budget further without sacrificing quality.
1. Prioritize Content According to Business Value
If your budget is limited or you’re cutting back, make sure you know what content is most valuable to your business. Look for ways to use your content budget for long-lasting value when possible, but understand the immediate needs of your audience too.
For example, during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis, companies that offer food subscription boxes might find paid advertising to be a valuable way to connect with people who are searching online for meat or other items that are in short supply locally. For these companies, the business value of content for ads is two-fold. First, it can lead to an immediate conversion. Second, it can lead to long-term value if the subscriber remains with the business.
But for many companies, ads won’t provide the most long-term value in this type of situation. Instead, SEO content that increases performance in search results in the future might provide more long-term value. Thought leadership may also be important for businesses attempting to assuage consumers and create trust and authority.
2. Consider Outsourcing Your Content Writing
“If you really want to reach a lot of target audience, your content production has to be massive,” Esther Meyer, the marketing manager at Grooms Shop, says. “Think social media posts, blog posts, email marketing content, website and landing pages. It’s okay to outsource your content marketing to other people. But you must maintain quality when you outsource. The most important thing to keep in mind when outsourcing content is to have a content marketing tone and style guide. You also need to communicate your needs and desires in a clear and concise manner.”
Outsourcing content can be a way to maintain scale without blowing your budget, but you do have to be smart about how you go about it. Working with the cheapest writers available typically results in sub-par content quality. That leaves you scrambling to rework content before you publish it, which increases expense.
For best results, you want to hire high-quality freelance writers at reasonable rates.
Working directly with freelancers can be more expensive than you plan as well. If you’re considering outsourcing content to stretch your budget and save yourself time, consider keeping a content creation company on standby.
3. Repurpose Existing Content
“Another way to stretch your budget,” says Katie from Digitally Enhanced, “is to optimize and repurpose content. If you’re going to put the time and effort into creating a piece of content, transition into the mindset of creating a content experience. Ways that I’ve created multi-purpose content include taking one interview and creating an expose or mini-series, a Q&A, a how-to or checklist, a video and associated social media and email accompaniments.”
Katie says she’s created up to 15 content assets from one content idea and provides these tips for others who want to do the same:
- Take your 5-10 top performing content pieces and turn them an ebook, PDF or other long-form content with a compelling and relevant headline
- Aggregate similar content pieces into a deeper whitepaper
- Pull out audio from existing video/video series into a podcast
“One of the best things you can do is build out a strong content tracking system,” says Katie. “I would guess that any brand’s content program will be divided by overarching themes, so in this system, be very clear about which theme content falls into, when it was written, if it leverages any outside sources and other pertinent information. From this, I recommend an annual audit and refresh so that no content is ever more than two years old and all sources are up to date and still in good standing.”
4. Start With Content From Your Team
Not all content needs to be in the form of the written word. In fact, 88% of marketers note that video marketing provides a positive ROI (up from 33% in just 2015). Start with different types of content your team can put together such as videos, webinars, podcasts or interviews. Even better, see if you already have some of this content in your archives.
Creating content using your existing team’s expertise and knowledge can reduce the cost. Then you can provide those videos or interviews to in-house or freelance writers and have them generate articles, blog posts and other text-based content from them without the need to do additional research. That helps support faster turn-around times on content writing and can potentially reduce the cost of written content.
5. Seek Guest Posts From Experts
Finally, reach out to business partners, influencers or other non-competitors who might be willing to provide a guest post for your blog. In many cases, experts or business partners are willing to provide a post for free because it provides them with additional exposure for their own brand. You might also swap guest-posting favors and provide something for their blog. You each get fresh content but can easily write about topics you’re familiar with.
Content doesn’t have to be expensive. But cutting your content budget altogether, even during a time of crisis, can be a costly mistake that impacts your company’s future. Instead, work within your resources and get the most out of the content budget you’re able to keep.