7 Easy, High-impact ways to leverage your content

Adding THUD to an offer is one way to get more results from your work. Another, and often easier, way is to leverage your content. The main ways to do that are to increase distribution and to repurpose what you’ve written, recorded, or licensed.

There’s some overlap, but we’re going to focus this time around on 7 specific things you can do to repurpose your content. Some will be familiar, and have a few twists you may not have considered. Others will be new to a lot of people.

They all work. Let’s start with the short form…

Twitterize It: If your content contains high-impact quotes or strong section headlines that will fit in around 120 characters, use those as Tweets. Essentially teasers to attract people to the web page where they can read the content.

I say 120 because Twitter seems now to only include part of a URL in measuring the length of a Tweet.

2 examples so far from this article might be:

“Winning the Content Wars: Get maximum leverage from your… [url here]”

That one talks to a somewhat general group, but is specific enough to sort down to content creators. Because it’s targeted to that group, the unfinished second part adds curiosity without being a blind ad.

“7 easy, high-impact ways to leverage your writing [URL here]”

This one is very straight forward. It talks to a clearly defined group (writers) and promises an easy to understand benefit. The specific number makes the “high-impact” part more credible. And everyone loves techniques that are “easy.”

Not very creative stuff, but it works. If you have a flair for quotable lines, that can make this a more productive technique. Use those quotes in your Tweets. If the content they point to is good, you’ll find people retweeting them.

This is an excellent way to practice your subject line writing, too. Tweets that get clicks and retweets should be saved to a “This worked” file. Over time, you’ll start to see patterns that you can emulate in future Tweets and email subjects.

If you use benefit-laden text, they can also show you what your audience is most interested in.

Really productive Tweets can even be used as the basis for the primary text of banner ads.

Exploding Bullets: This is a great trick for developing promotional content that has high value and will generate targeted traffic.

The concept is simple. Take a small but significant point from your product and expand it into an article. Explain some of the nuances you might have left out of the product, or give examples to show how to use the ideas in a practical way.

An example from this article would be the idea of using productive Tweets to design banner ads. You could talk about the standards for measuring it, layouts for the banners, what goes into a popular Tweet, or how to increase the chances of retweets.

That’s at least four possible articles from one short sentence. You can probably find dozens of similar opportunities in a typical product. They will all be attractive to your market, and are likely to generate only very targeted traffic.

For another twist on this, look at your sales letter. Every bullet point in it is a likely prospect for this strategy. Even if you explain the concept fully in the product, a new article, phrased in different ways or from another perspective, can be useful.

There’s an added benefit that should be obvious. All that content serves to expand the product itself in future versions.

Checkpoints, Charlie: Everybody loves checklists. Clear, point by point outlines of what you need to do or have to accomplish something in a practical way.

Almost every bit of content that suggests a course of action could be the basis for a checklist.

There’s a benefit to using checklists as content that doesn’t get discussed a lot. Because they involve specific actions, people picture themselves doing what’s described. If the picture they form involves fun or real results, they’re more likely to view the product the content points to as offering the same.

If visitors arrive at your sales page in a results-focused and action-based mode, they’re much more likely to read the whole thing and do something about it. Like, for example, buy stuff.

That’s always nice.

Map the Minefield: This is one of the most underused content strategies around. It’s especially useful when talking about alternative tools or techniques.

When you talk with people about ways to get something done, tell them the potential problems. Things to avoid, why a strategy can backfire if you do (or don’t do) certain things, what shortcomings various tools have, etc.

You might stay with “Stuff newbies should avoid” or go into more advanced questions. That will depend on your desired audience. Just tell them what could create problems, why, what the consequences would be, and how to avoid them if possible.

The only thing people like more than curing a headache is preventing one. And, if you know the common pitfalls, there’s a really good chance you’re going to stop them from making a mistake they were actively considering.

If they’ve already made that mistake, you’ve done wonders for your credibility with something like this. They know, from personal experience, that you know what you’re talking about.

Not only is this useful, it’s the sort of thing a lot of people tend to leave out of their products. We think that telling people what they should do will isolate them from all the bad ideas. Anyone who’s observed any niche or market for long knows… the new folks all tend to make the same mistakes, have the same bad ideas about what will work, and see the same time-wasting “shortcuts that aren’t.”

The trick to getting mileage from this is to give them the specific advice mentioned above, but to offer them alternatives with a more positive result. Then point them to your product for even more ways to get things done without the hassles.

That’s major marketing mojo.

Be Resource-ful: Similar to checklists, a list of recommended resources, carefully chosen and picked for results, is another very popular type of content.

Combined with the “minefield notice,” these things can go viral, and they’re simple to create. The thing that makes them work best is when they’re complete. That doesn’t mean they list every resource available, of course. Just that they include at least one good resource for every step in the process they’re intended to help with.

Be specific about which step each item is meant for, and why you chose it, and you’ve got something that people will value. You’ve just saved them the time spent looking things up and trying them all out. You’ve helped them avoid mistakes and pointless expense. And you’ve shortened the time to getting results, often by a lot.

Done right, these things are gold.

Tell Me a Story: Stories are powerful. They can teach a lesson without preaching, make complex concepts easy to grasp, and bring home the consequences of actions in ways that have real impact.

You have thousands of stories that could illustrate your ideas in entertaining and thought-provoking ways. Use them.

As an example, here’s a true story I use in my creativity course.

I was sitting in a restaurant one day, working on the outline for this book. The waitress, a freshman at a local college, was complaining about several kids who had ‘pushed by’ her on their way ‘in’ through the ‘out’ door.

“How rude,” she said.

Later, she came back with coffee and asked what I was writing. I told her it was a book on some creativity exercises I had developed. She told me that she didn’t have a creative bone in her body.

I hear that a lot.

I bet her I could prove, right then and there, that she was extremely creative. She laughed and asked me how much I wanted to lose.

I asked her about the people who’d gone rushing past her the wrong way through the door that morning. The conversation went like this:

Me: “Do you know any of them?”

Her: “No. I don’t hang with people like that.”

Me: “Like what?”

Her: “Rude and pushy.”

Me: “Did they bump into you, or say anything on the way by?”

Her: “No, they just laughed.”

Me: “At you?”

Her: “No, they didn’t even notice me!”

Me: “You probably figured out just what they were like, too, didn’t you? Just as soon as they did that.”

Her: “Oh yeah.”

Me: “You know what those kind of people will do, pretty much all the time, don’t you? You probably even know why most of them are like that.”

Her: “OH YEAH! Spoiled little rich kids. They’re all over campus.”

Me: “Did any of that go through your mind as they pushed by?”

Her: “Now that you mention it, it all did.”

Me: “See how creative you are?”

Her: (Confused) “What do you mean?”

Me: “It only took you three seconds, start to finish, to invent three complete human beings!”

That punchline set up the rest of the chapter the story started. It works because we all do what she did. And we’ve all been on the receiving end of that kind of wrong assumption. Most of us never stop to think about just how it happened.

That’s the key to one sort of effective story. If it has that “been there, done that” feel, it works.

Don’t have a story? Invent one.

There’s nothing wrong with fictional stories, as long as you don’t present them as facts to support a sale. It’s all in how you start them out. You could begin with “Imagine you’re at the mall and…” or “Suppose you were talking with someone and the conversation went like this,” or “What if…?”

Describe the fictional scenario as though it really happened. Use active words and create a clear picture. Then finish with something like, “If that happened to you, what would you do, say or think?”

These kinds of stories can add a lot of impact, especially if they’re believable and consistent with common experience.

Here’s an advanced trick for the writers in the crowd: Choose your set-up line based on what point you want to make.

“Imagine” puts the person in an experiential mode. They will see themselves in the setting and feel what they’d feel if it happened to them.

“Suppose” sets the stage for an analytical process.

“What if” leads to more of a choice or reaction frame of mind.

These are what I call “leaners.” They’re not absolutes, and the effect they have is strengthened or lessened by the words that follow. They are good ways to start out, though, and they’re common enough openings that people know what you’re getting at.

More to the point, they make it clear thee aren’t true stories. If they illustrate common problems or situations, the person will relate to them anyway.

A real advantage to invented stories is that you can make them a perfect fit for the point you want to make. That’s not always the case with real life examples. The true ones have more impact, but may not always cover every base.

Here’s a tip for the less experienced writers: Don’t overdo it. You don’t need to be extreme to make your point, unless the real-world consequences would be that extreme.

If you’re trying to explain or teach something, the person reading or hearing your story has to find it believable or you’ve just wasted your time and theirs.

If you’re going to stray outside the real world results, do it by understatement. An intelligent person can fill in the more extreme blanks on their own.

Even the most mundane principles or techniques can be illustrated by stories. And there’s no limit to the imagination, so they can be focused around almost any part of your products.

The “two guys” approach is especially effective for using this as a promotional tool. Start with “Guy one does X, Y, and Z, and fails utterly.” Follow up with “Guy 2 does A, B, and C and gets these amazing results.”

If you think stories are just for fun products, consider: The Wall Street Journal used the “two guys” approach to sell a huge number of subscriptions.

Stories are powerful.

Graphic Violence: Hammer the net with graphics. But make them GOOD graphics.

One example that’s easy is to take a quotable part of your product and turn it into a Facebook graphic. Post it the page your content is on, and then post the link to Facebook. If the quote is shareable by itself, that means more traffic. If the article it links to supports the quote and people feel it says something about them, that increases the odds it will be shared.

If it’s an action-based quote, you may get some traction just by including the URL at the bottom of the image. That’s not as solid a source of visitors, but it may be worth doing just for branding

You can also post these images to a Facebook page and share them on your timeline to drive traffic to the page.

You can post them to Twitter or Pinterest, use them on your blog to set the stage for a post, or add them to sales letters to focus attention and break up the monotony of long swaths of text.

A really popular format these days is the infographic.

These are huge images. They make their point using statistics and quotes about business models, industry trends, social changes, or pretty much anything else.

People seem to love these. They’re more likely to visit sites mentioned in them than in any other image type. (Or so their promoters claim.) They take a bit more design skill to create, but they can be worth the effort if your topic lends itself to statistical explanation.

Images that tell a story or promote a point of view can go absolutely nuts on social media.

One that I saw yesterday was a photo of a n elderly woman who had allegedly been beaten by an 18-year old kid who got a reduced sentence despite this. Problem is, that image was a fake. That didn’t stop it from being shared over a quarter of a million times.

Someone took a Photoshopped image, posted it to their Facebook page, and hit the traffic jackpot.

I don’t recommend faking situations, especially like that. It takes “graphic” to an extreme level. The lesson in this one is that tapping into emotional responses is a powerful way to get attention in social media. So, what is there about your product, or the problem it solves, that people feel strongly about? Tap into that. It works.

Get graphic, get traffic.

By the way… If I turned just this section into an article or report, that last line would be a great example of Twitterizing content.

Promo Power-Up: This is a bonus tip that can more than double the results you get from the other ideas here.

Take the leverage points you’ve created using any or all of these ideas and offer them to your affiliates as sales tools.

Let them repost the articles and stories, with their affiliate links in the call to action. Give them the images or Tweets, with instructions on linking properly to get credit for sales. Give them the stories to post on their blogs or Facebook pages.

Put those checklists and resource lists in text, html, and PDF format, and let your affiliates brand them and give them away. Or offer them as subscription bonuses, and make sure your affiliates get credit for what their visitors buy after they sign up.

If the content is good, you’ve just set everyone up for a win.

The thing to keep in mind here is that most of this doesn’t take much time at all. You may not be good at graphic design, but that’s only one tactic. The rest is just taking what you already know and have written about and framing it in different ways.

This is, in some ways, a marketing extension of the “THUD” principle. Combine these ideas with adding THUD to your offers, and watch what happens.

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