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My Pocket-Sized, Content Production Secret

I’m going to let you in on a little secret that helps me keep up with my content production. I’m dictating this article while in my car on my way to a client meeting using the audio recorder on my phone.

As marketers, we’re all slammed with a never-ending to-do list. And no matter which side of the table you’re sitting on (corporate side or content service provider), one of the biggest challenges you face with content marketing is finding the time to create good content on a consistent basis.

If you’re a professional copywriter who has the gift of spitting out gold in mere minutes, good for you. I envy you. But if you’re anything like me, writing good content means inevitably wordsmithing every sentence, which requires a good chunk of time (even with my degree in journalism).

For those of you who are not natural or skilled writers, the task of blogging, creating web content or even tweeting on a regular basis is probably varying levels of daunting. How the heck are you going to get all that done in addition to your other responsibilities? A tool that has really helped me increase both my content production and quality is an audio recorder.

Tips for the Corporate Marketer

On the corporate side of the table, you’re probably  responsible for keeping new content flowing weekly, perhaps daily. If you’re on the ball, you have an editorial calendar you follow and you have subject matter experts you can leverage for editorial help.

I remember my corporate days, sitting in an engineer’s office picking his/her brain and frantically taking notes. Then I’d go back to my computer and try my best to wordsmith something that made as much sense as the conversation I just had. I can’t tell you how many times I thought to myself, “I wish I had recorded that conversation.”

What’s stopping you? Certainly not technology. Simple audio recorders are $20 on and your phone probably has one.
With my audio recorder in hand, here’s what I would do now:

Record every brainstorming meeting
Since you never know what great ideas might come up, put your recorder on the table and don’t forget to hit record. Don’t worry so much about taking notes. Sit back and listen. If the meeting doesn’t produce anything great, then delete the file. If it does, a quick transcription will help you recapture the good stuff.

Interview like you’re the customer
If you’re working with a subject matter expert (SME), facilitate your meeting as if you’re a customer with a specific challenge or pain point. Ask questions that help the SME address the issue in a way that benefits you, “the customer.” Then transcribe their answers into a great piece of benefits-focused content.

Keep the conversational tone
One thing that’s great about web content is that we can (and should) keep it more conversational than some other mediums. When we’re recording conversations, it’s a huge time saver to translate these conversations almost word for word so they maintain that voice and tone.

Use your drive time / commute
For busy marketers every minute counts, and the time spent commuting from place to place can be used effectively even if you need to be “hands free.” Look at your editorial calendar before you leave, pick a topic/content idea and talk through your thoughts en route. With my Android phone’s native speech-to-text function, I can start a new email to myself and bang out an article during a 20-minute drive.

Tips for Content Service Providers

Record your client calls
I’m a big fan of GoToMeeting, and hitting the record button allows me to capture both the audio and video (screen capture) from a virtual meeting. Whether you are creating content from this meeting or you’re handing it off to another writer, you’ll all benefit from capturing the client’s actual words.

Sit back and listen
When you’re recording the audio and not having to take frantic notes, you can let your brain explore a little more deeply into the individual thoughts that are flowing from the client. The meeting turns into more of a natural conversation and less like a question and answer session. Good things come from this.

Is the audio podcast worthy?
I’m no longer surprised to uncover unique, charismatic personalities within organizations. If I find myself looking forward to regular phone calls with these people and getting great stuff each time, should a podcast be considered? With the right people, a good content format, a little coaching and some inexpensive equipment, you can help your clients create their own industry radio show.

What did I miss? What other ways are you using audio tools to help you get more content done? Tell us about it.