In marketing, as in life, situations will inevitably arise that require a certain amount of scrappiness. And a spur-of-the-moment, quick-turnaround-required content push — while not ideal — is a situation you ultimately might end up facing.
Maybe it’s the end of the month, and your boss is freaking out. “We need more leads!” is the battle cry. ”And we need you, [your name], to create and promote some new content pronto so we can generate those leads!”
Or maybe you’re facing that classic, high school-era, “Oh-crap-I-totally-forgot-my-presentation-was-due-tomorrow” scenario, where, for whatever reason, you completely forgot that you were supposed to be launching a content marketing campaign the next day. And instead of confessing to your boss that you messed up, you decide to dig down deep and get this ish done.
For such situations, when perhaps you’re a bit panicked; a bit all over the place; a bit ready to lose it because there are only so many hours in the day and you need to launch this thing tomorrow and you’re on your fifth espresso and you don’t even know where to begin …
For situations like those, here’s what to do.
Step 1: Assess and Create Your Content (1 Hour)
Ideally, you’ll always have a completed piece of content on standby for emergency situations (like the ones I outlined above).
Assuming you do have a piece of backup content ready to roll, your first step in launching a campaign will be to retrieve and review said backup content.
Maybe you keep it in one of those glass cases labeled “In Case of Emergency ….” Or maybe, like HubSpot, you store your backup content deep under ground in a radiation-resistant inbound marketing bunker, right next to your stockpile of blog posts. And Twinkies.*
*Editor’s note: HubSpot does not actually have a subterranean bunker filled with marketing resources and Twinkies (but please don’t tell Erik, he still thinks it’s real).
Regardless of where you store this “emergency” content, you’ll want to devote some time to reviewing — and, if necessary, updating — that content to ensure it’s still relevant.
Specifically, you’ll want to be able to answer these questions:
- Who is this content for? Which of your buyer personas are you trying to target with this content?
- What stage of the buyer’s journey is your target audience in? The awareness stage, where people have realized or expressed symptoms of a potential problem or opportunity; the consideration stage, where people have clearly defined that problem or opportunity; or the decision stage, where people have arrived at a strategy or solution for that problem/opportunity? (Not sure? Our Content Mapping Template can help you get that all figured out.)
- Does the title of your content clearly convey what the content is about? Have you optimized your content’s title for organic search? (Pro tip: Do some keyword research to figure out which phrases get the most search volume. The goal here isn’t to keyword-stuff your title, but to make sure you’re using the precise language that your prospective customers are using. Tools like the Google AdWords Keyword Planner and HubSpot’s Keyword Tool can help.)
Of course, there’s also the chance that when faced with launching a last-minute content marketing campaign, you won’t actually have any content ready for promotion. In which case, you’ll need to create some new content on the fly.
It goes without saying that this is not an ideal scenario. In a perfect world, you should always take as much time as you need during the content creation process to ensure that you’re creating something you’re proud of.
But alas, we don’t live in a perfect world. In some cases, you may not have enough time to create the greatest content, and may instead need to settle for creating content that’s good enough.
With that in mind, here are some quick and dirty ideas for creating a good piece of content in an hour or less.
The Blog Post Compilation Ebook
Let “copy and paste” be your mantra for this super simple piece of content.
Start by thinking of a topic that you’ve already written about on your blog. Then, search through your library of published posts to see if there are a few posts on that topic that you could combine to form a (loose) narrative for an ebook.
I did this exercise just for fun by searching through old HubSpot posts, and within five minutes came up with six posts that I think we could combine to create a decent ebook about QR codes:
- Intro/Foreword: Are QR Codes Dead?
- Section 1: Everything a Marketer Should Know About QR Codes
- Section 2: How to Make a QR Code in 4 Quick Steps
- Section 3: 9 Unique Ways to Generate Leads With QR Codes
- Section 4: How to Track Your Offline Sources with QR Codes
- Conclusion: 4 Mistakes Marketers Make With QR Codes
Once you have your outline, creating the ebook is as simple as copying and pasting the text from the blog posts you’ve compiled into an ebook template and giving ebook one more round of edits. FYI: My colleagues have created a bunch of free ebook templates you can use for this (and she explains how to use them in this post).
The Audio/Video Compilation Site Page
You can apply the same blog post compilation strategy for creating an ebook to your audio or video content in order to make a site page (i.e. an instructional page on your website).
Run a podcast? Try organizing some of your episodes around a common theme or topic and embed those episodes on your page. You can then write (or record) an introduction and a conclusion for the top and bottom of your page.
Create a lot of videos? It’s the same process as above, just embed your videos instead of podcast episodes. (Note: We’ve tried this “video site page” idea before with our Essential Crash Course on Modern Email Marketing.)
To retain the lead generation value of the campaign, just make sure to put your site page behind a landing page form (like we did with the example above).
Externalizing Your Internal Content
Chances are you use internal content on a weekly (if not daily) basis. Whether it’s an excel spreadsheet that you update, a style guide that you refer to, or a checklist that you use to track your work, that content has the potential to be valuable not just for you, but for your audience as well.
Search through your internal content and see if there’s a piece that’d be a good fit for a content marketing campaign. If you find something suitable, just be sure to A) remove any sensitive data or company information that you don’t want external people to see, and B) add in some instructional copy (or a separate instructional PDF) so people know how to use the content.
Regardless of the format you end up using for your content marketing campaign — be it an ebook, a site page, or an internal template — the earlier bullet points still apply: Your content needs to align with your target audience and your content’s title needs to be optimized.
You could spend 60 days making your content as pretty and as buttoned-up as possible. But if you skip the essentials, your campaign could suffer.
On the other hand, if you spend 60 minutes nailing down those essentials, you can still run a successful campaign — even if your finished piece isn’t as completely polished as you would’ve liked.
Step 2: Create Promotional Images (1 Hour)
If your content already has a well-designed cover image or title page, use that as the basis or thematic center for your promotional images (i.e. the images that you’ll use to promote your content on your blog, via email, via social, etc.).
Don’t have a solid cover image or title page to start with? No problem. You can design your promo images from scratch.
To begin, I recommend coming up with some type of visual metaphor or icon that represents your content’s topic.
For example, a few weeks ago I had to design a cover image and promo images for The CMO Guide to Resourcing Your Inbound Strategy. Since the content focused on the resources and tools a CMO needs for inbound marketing, the visual metaphor I decided on was a toolbox.
After about 5 minutes of playing around with a toolbox icon in Adobe Illustrator, I decided it’d look cool to have a bunch of other icons (representing tools and resources) sort of flowing out of the main toolbox icon.
And about 15 minutes after that, I was finished with the flat cover image you see to the right.
Once you’ve created an initial, flat image for your content, you can use that image — and the elements that comprise it — to make all of your other promotional images.
For example, I took that flat image I designed (above), brought it into Photoshop, and used the “Transform” > “Distort” function to stretch it over a 3D image of a book. The end result — a 3D book with a transparent background — is now the landing page image for this particular piece of content.