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How publishing professionals can stretch their marketing budget

I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the Summit on Content Marketing via my content marketing coaches Andrew and Pete. Twelve days … 100 speakers. Phew!

I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s on offer but one session blew me away because of how it resonated with the publishing industry: Gordon Graham’s ‘One White Paper, Five Ways: Stretch Your Content Marketing Budget by Re-Purposing’.

The budget problem – time and money

Publishing professionals – from presses to freelancers – have marketing budgets. That’s because our pockets aren’t bottomless. Furthermore, creating high-quality marking materials is labour intensive, and most of us are time-poor.

The question is, then, can that budget be stretched? And if so, how?

Graham, otherwise known as That White Paper Guy, has the answer. In-depth content and repurposing. Being able to repurpose our material can be a game-changer.

What’s a white paper, anyway?

Graham helps businesses communicate their value by creating white papers. The emphasis is on ‘facts, not hype’. He defines a white paper as ‘A persuasive essay that uses facts and logic to promote a better way to solve a business problem.’

They’re usually in portrait format, and include five pages of research-based narrative text that’s educational, practical, helpful, and usable.

White papers are superb vehicles for building trust because they’re based on research and problem solving. They help us make decisions, and in the publishing world, where margins are tight, markets are global and the relationships between publishers, authors, freelancers and readers are complex, global and increasingly fluid, trust is more important than ever.

Any publishing professional can create a white paper – from the marketing team in one of the Big Five to a lil’ old fiction editor like me. All you need is the will to do it. And do it well.

If the term white paper makes you nervous, fear not. Think of it as a booklet instead. It’s the research-based nature of the narrative content that’s key, not the name of the thing!

Industry examples

Take a look at Reedsy’s ‘The Lean Publisher: A Changing Freelancer Economy’.

Or how about Digital Book World’s ‘How Do Book Sales Stack Up – Genre by Genre?’.

That’s two pieces of valuable, usable marketing content. Or is it?

In ‘One White Paper, Five Ways’, Graham shows us how the publishing professional (or any professional for that matter) can create an additional five pieces (maybe even more) of high-quality content from each of those research reports. Bang for your buck, or what?

Graham offers some solid advice on good practice (I’ve paraphrased): think like a lawyer, research like a think tank, cite like a scholar, write like a journalist, and communicate like a person.

Isn’t repurposing cheating?

Repurposing is recycling. It’s a good thing. Not just because it’s cheaper. Not just because it saves time. But because it’s responsive.

Different audiences want to consume their content in different ways. I might fancy reading DBW’s white paper on my desktop right now but if I’m busy editing, it’ll have to wait. Perhaps a podcast might suit me better – that way I can learn while I’m cooking dinner for my daughter.

Enough about me, though. People learn in different ways. You like ebooks, she likes print books. You like conferences; he likes webinars.

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to content, no matter whether you’re a publisher, an editor or an author. And great content always respects the customer’s choice when it comes to delivery and accessibility.

Slicing and dicing

So how can the publishing pro get their additional five pieces (minimum) of content from the original bigger piece? Graham recommends the following:

  • Press release – that press release might well generate additional interest from journalists and other publishing professionals, thus amplifying your story. See Porter Anderson’s write-up for Publishing Perspectives: ‘Publishers in a Freelance Market: Reedsy Asks “How’s That Working Out for You?
  • Blog posts – extract the key themes and create one, two, three or more articles. These can go on your own company or business blog, or you can guest on someone else’s.
  • Social media – create a Twitter or Facebook campaign. Wherever your customers are hanging out is where you want to be posting. Focus on posting key shareable takeaways from your research.
  • Slide deck – PowerPoint or Google Slides are two options. You can use these at conferences and host them as online webinars. Simon Raybould’s Presentation Genius has a ton of information about creating top-quality slideshows.
  • Audio – podcasts or audio white papers (sometimes called whitepods) are increasingly popular, though for the professional touch Graham recommends hiring a voice artist. Audio is fantastic for targeting audiences who want to do something else at the same time.

Including clear calls to action in each of these slices is essential if you want the full findings of your research to hit the button.

Recycle and relax

Any publishing professional, big or small, can stretch their marketing budget by repurposing. Creating valuable in-depth, evidence-based content that’s oozing with quality is the starting point. Doing the hard work first means you get to reap the benefits on the chopping board later.

When you slice and dice, and deliver according to your audience’s preferences, you increase engagement, build trust and expand the life cycle of the story you’re telling. What’s not to like?

Louise Harnby is a professional fiction proofreader and copyeditor. She curates The Proofreader’s Parlour and is the author of several books on business planning and marketing for editors and proofreaders. Prior to setting up her editorial business, she had a 13-year ball working for two international publishing houses.

Visit her business website at Louise Harnby | Proofreader, say hello on Twitter at @LouiseHarnby, or connect via Facebook and LinkedIn.

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