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When your content marketing plan falls apart, consider kintsugi

Why this Japanese practice can help you repair your content strategy — and how we did it ourselves

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Kintsugi is a Japanese practice you may know of, even if the name is not familiar.

It is the art of reassembling and repairing broken ceramics with gold, celebrating the breakages as part of the object’s history as opposed to something to be hidden.

The end result is a beautiful new work, threaded with gold and carrying unique value and meaning — proof that breakages and flaws can make an object stronger and more valuable, if an artist is willing to devote time to its repair. 

This is the analogy you should think of when returning to your content marketing strategy in times of crisis:

When the plans you had fall apart all of a sudden,
The work you’d already created is abruptly irrelevant,
And your knee-jerk reaction is to throw it in the trash -
Consider how you can repurpose and reassemble the pieces with golden threads
to give your content value again.

Repairing your content marketing strategy

Has the content you spent hours of work on and strategy you spent multiple meetings devising fallen apart? You’re not alone. Businesses across New Zealand and the world have been scrambling to reconsider their new angle, tone, and direction since COVID-19 took over our newsfeeds.

Lighthearted blog posts and a multi-part sales strategy now seem trivial and in poor taste as jobs and lives are being lost, and our way of life has changed so abruptly.

But you don’t need to discard your plan completely. Instead, look at how you can recycle your content and strategy to find new ways forward. Reassess your pieces, repurpose what can still be used, and draw it together with threads of gold to reassemble something more valuable than before.

(If you haven’t created a content marketing strategy before, now could be an excellent time to start. See our guide or contact us for advice to create your own personalised strategy.)

Reassess

Before you can reassemble, you must first reassess what you have to work with, where you can add value, and how you’re going to do it.

You’ll need to have in front of you your current content marketing strategy, your ongoing pieces of content, and your team of thinkers — management, marketing, and writers.

On a blank piece of paper, start answering the big-picture questions for your content: 

  • How do we want to come across right now? 
  • What tone do we want to use in our language?
  • What is the main message we want to convey?
  • How can we add value for our audience? How can we help?
  • What can we do to connect with our audience? What are they feeling and needing?

Consider each question in the context of your company brand guidelines, and how you can align your new answers with your established personality. Keep in mind that this is a sensitive time and your audience may not react as they have before — you’ll want to tread more carefully, communicate more openly, and err on the side of caution. 

For example, if you usually use a lot of cheeky emojis in your social posts, do these need to be toned down to be appropriate? If your communications are usually professional and academic, do you need to introduce a little more emotion to connect with your audience and what they’re going through? If you use a lot of humour, can you do so tastefully now without offending your audience?

Once you know your answers to these questions and how they align with your brand, you’ll have clearer guidelines to help you identify which content you can repurpose, and how to assemble the pieces of your strategy back together.

Repurpose

With the help of the new guidelines you’ve just created, it’s time to start repurposing your pieces of content and finding the gold threads that can tie them all together.

Look at each article or post in your content plan, including past and future content that’s not quite right, and ask yourself if there’s a way to use parts of it to create new content.

Of course, you can always write new content from scratch, but our goal here is to help you use those hours of effort already spent planning and writing to turn around your content quickly and efficiently and get it out to your readers. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself when assessing your content: 

  • Could this piece be shelved for later, when life has returned to normal?
  • Can this be rewritten from a different angle? (Using the same research and quotes, to save time?)
  • How can your advice piece be pivoted to apply to this situation?
  • Can that sales pitch be re-focussed into a helpful guide? 
  • How can you make this article valuable for your audience’s current needs?
  • Do you have any already published pieces that can be re-posted or rewritten for the current situation? 
  • Can you pull together a “Top Reads” list from previously popular content?

Repurposing content that you already have cuts down on the time needed to research, plan, and write new pieces, allowing you to connect with your customers at pace and spend more time on other business needs.

Reassemble

Now, with your content re-worked and new guidelines set out, you can reassemble your content marketing strategy for the near future and continue creating and publishing with confidence.

Don’t be afraid to show your imperfections and call out to the content you wished you could post — appearing to have a relevant article hidden up your sleeve for this situation would seem dubious, so communicate authentically around what you’re sharing.

By sharing your efforts you’re reinforcing your commitment to providing your customers with relevant content. Those threads of gold that stitch together your new content are proof of your resilience and strength, and something to be proud of.

We are all facing the same challenges in our businesses right now, the trick is to use these challenges to transform our everyday content and business communications into something more valuable.

(The best way to create value is to offer value, especially in times of crisis. See our guide to learn how to add value and stand above the crowd with your content.)

How BizStory Content repaired Nose To Tail’s content marketing strategy

In late March, New Zealand went from business-as-usual to almost-total lockdown in a matter of days. Nose To Tail, a dog-care service on the North Shore, was one of our many clients to be disrupted by the sudden shock of month-long closure.

Days out from sending their usual monthly newsletter containing two insightful blog posts, we found ourselves scrambling to repair their shattered content strategy and create something that was reflective of the new situation and emotionally in touch with what people were going through.

We started by reassessing what their audience would want from them right now. We looked to the questions customers were already asking, and decided to write up a guide to caring for your dog during the COVID-19 level 4 lockdown. Drawing on official government and health ministry advice, we collated a go-to resource for pet owners to ensure their dogs stay happy and healthy throughout the crisis.

Going quickly to our existing content marketing strategy, we spotted a great article idea that we could repurpose - a blog post planned for July about recommendations for books and movies for dog lovers. Originally scheduled for July to account for people staying indoors in bad weather, we were able to repurpose it quickly for people staying indoors in lockdown. Same content: different angle.

Finally, we reassembled the two new blogs within a comforting, heartfelt email of support and connection - letting customers know that the business would be closed for the time being, as per government guidelines, but reopening as soon as possible and looking forward to reconnecting then.

We decided that the previous content we’d prepared will be perfect for recycling in May (or even June, if the lockdown lasts that long) so it’s not going to waste and will see its day when the time is right. 

Finding the threads of gold

When faced with a fractured marketing strategy and a business-changing obstacle, we’re proud to have pulled together a valuable new creation from the remains of our client’s content and plans.

“You did an amazing job of regrouping the content to fit the times and change direction. The team are amazingly resourceful and efficient. Thank you!” 

- Kath Fitzpatrick, Nose To Tail Owner

Testing our ability and efficiency, we took the opportunity to find the gold and reassemble this content into something stronger in order to reach out to the client’s audience exactly when they needed it.

Just because it’s broken, doesn’t mean it’s the end.

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Has your strategy fallen apart? You’re not alone. We’ve helped scores of clients to repurpose and reassemble their content in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Get in touch with BizStory Content for a chat to find your way forward with confidence.



 

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