By Amy Higgins published February 19, 2015

Content Strategists Can Follow Their Own Big Bang Theory

BigBang

A central tenet of content strategy is to create many content assets from the Big Idea. Here we explore how the concept works in practice.

As content marketers, we struggle with the never-ending battle of quantity vs. quality. We want to produce quality content with an extremely high ROI and we want enough content to appeal to all our varied audiences. But too often there’s a tension between quality and quantity.

What if you could produce quality content and repurpose it dozens, even hundreds, of times for your diverse audiences? Sound too good to be true?

Just as the Big Bang theory describes how the universe originated from a single point billions of years ago, the Big Bang Theory of Content will help you create – from a single point of content – an explosion of infinite ways to reuse and repurpose a single big idea or story.

To create your own big bang, think of your entire content library as a galaxy, and each high-level topic as its own solar system. For example, GE has a massive variety of content. One solar system for GE is the Internet of Things; it’s a topic area with hundreds of assets, and it supports the company’s desire to position its engines and turbines as interconnected, smart machines because of their GE software.

Deciding on a topic (i.e., solar system), however, isn’t enough to get started. Each content solar system has a sun – the single point of energy around which it revolves. For your content plan, your sun will be a single, extremely large content asset that documents all the ways in which you will dissect the Big Idea you’ve chosen, and how you will distribute it via social media. Just as our sun holds the planets and moons in orbit, so too will your content sun power all the assets you create within that topic area.

Concur creates content solar system

At my previous company, Concur, we began by planning our organization’s galaxy – or all the main topics/stories for which we wanted to be known by our audiences. For us, this was easy. We started with the main solutions Concur provides – expense and travel management, invoicing, and cash-flow management. These became our three solar systems. At this point, we didn’t look at personas or even our end-use case for each piece of content. We simply wanted to answer a single question within this galaxy of content: “How does Concur help?” and go from there.

We began with the expense story line (i.e., solar system) and created our sun, The Essential Guide to Managing Expenses. This was an entirely new process for us, almost backward from the customer’s journey. In essence, we were starting with the final destination of our customers’ journey and walking back toward their first moment of engagement.

This asset took us over six months to create, with many ups and downs along the way (a process we have cut by 75% since that first try). While creating our Essential Guide (i.e., our sun) we discovered five common themes and story lines that required a deeper dive; hence, we created the planets to tell those stories. Like the planets in our very own Milky Way, our content planets have moons orbiting around them. Some planets have only one moon while others have five or eight moons. And let’s not forget the satellites. Of course every galaxy is different, this is just how Concur’s Expense Galaxy was formed.

Create your own galactic content system

Here’s how you can view your galactic content system, including examples of what Concur created for its celestial content system.

  • Galaxy – All of your content across all topic areas
  • Solar system – A single high-level topic for your organization that can support a large library of content
  • Sun – One huge asset (e.g., a 40- to 100-page report) that tells your complete story related to that topic (it powers all of your content)

Concur example: The Essential Guide to Managing Expenses

  • Planets – Larger assets like eBooks and videos that tell a particular story line from your high-level topic

Concur example: 15-page eBook How to Create a No-Questions-Asked Expense Policy for All

  • Moons – Mid-sized assets (e.g., smaller eBooks, white papers, SlideShare presentations, and infographics) that help lead people and back up the planets

Concur examples: 12-page eBook Integrating Travel Into Your  Expense Management, SlideShare post Expense Policy Workbook, infographic What’s Your Expense Personality Type?, and Smarter-Than-the-Average Spreadsheet

  • Satellites – All of the smaller photos, GIFs, and social media posts that drive engagement to the rest of the solar system

Concur examples: 25-plus blog posts, over 100 social-media graphics, over 400 social-media posts, both organic and social

Concur’s entire expense-management solar system took almost a year to create, and we plan on using the content created for the next 18-plus months. In total, we have over 550 pieces of content, with more being generated daily as we reuse and recycle content from our sun, the Essential Guide. Our galaxy of content supports all of our activities, including thought leadership, demand generation, webinars, sales-enablement tools, customer onboarding, and in-person events.

It’s been a fascinating journey along the way. We’ve laughed. We’ve cried. We’ve prospered. What’s next? To infinity and beyond … with the creation of our next two solar systems.

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of  Chief Content Officer. Sign up to receive your free subscription to our bi-monthly magazine.

Image courtesy of CCO magazine

Author: Amy Higgins

Amy Higgins is the strategic account manager at TopRank Marketing. Follow her @AmyWHiggins.

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