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Tag: audit

Don’t know what content you have? You’re not alone

“People spend millions of pounds on something and they don’t know how to make it work?”

That was a question from a contact’s father when he heard his son made a good living consulting with companies who had bought large IT systems. My contact said he just had to smile back at his dad. He had no good – or short – answer for him. small__3866035973

The story comes to mind when I think of the way large companies have all kinds of content – on their websites, in brochures, in printed reports, technical documentation and on and on. Rarely does anyone have oversight over all this. Sometimes it can run to over a million items, never catalogued in one place, certainly not all providing value.

But, as the broad content industry that stretches beyond traditional media, we shouldn’t be down on ourselves about this kind of thing. It happens everywhere.

Tech diaspora

One company I used to work with has an arm whose core business is to catalogue all the products large tech vendors sell around the world. In this market, Apple is the exception. One of the unusual (and highly advantageous) aspects to its business is that you can pretty much lay out everything it sells on a single conference room table. Try doing that with an HP, IBM or Samsung.

As such, for dozens of companies, the organisation I worked with ran a large call centre filled with linguists who would research the unique model of every product a vendor sold in every country. Sometimes a product’s model number would simply change because of local standards (a PAL TV in the UK versus the NTSC model in the US, for example), other times it would be exactly the same product but given a different model number for each country.

What’s amazing about this? The companies themselves couldn’t keep up with this fragmentation. There was a market in keeping an up-to-date database for most large consumer and B2B tech companies who would buy that information. About themselves.

Just do it – though not all of it

I came across another related example recently. Partly out of idle curiosity and partly to test out Q&A site Quora. I asked:

How many unique footwear designs does Nike have available new at any time (aside from the design-your-own options, of which there must be millions of combinations)?

Part of me thought that’s an unanswerable question – which of course makes it ideal fodder for Quora. But after giving up on getting a response, a few weeks later someone describing themselves as a “sneakerhead” replied. Among other things she said: “This question is just about impossible for anyone to answer because of the large number of ‘special makeup’ styles Nike creates as exclusives for specific retail accounts” – coupled with local models for different countries.


What do these examples show? It’s not just those with a content role who sometimes struggle to know what they have in the locker. (Or Foot Locker, in Nike’s case.)

That’s just the way some industries are. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to work out the answer or that there is no benefit in doing so.

Content audits are the equivalent in content marketing and are rarely perfect. But a best estimate as to what any organisation has is a starting point for working out what needs to be newly created and what can be reused.

This is often the first – albeit frustrating – step in developing a content strategy.

*photo credit: ksuyin via photopin cc

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Content audits – 3 tactics to run with right now

Approaches to content auditing are being formalised, mainly by those who seek to charge you for such a service. And make no mistake, demand is up as everyone realises a professional content strategy has to embrace auditing.  magnifying glass

We have no problem with this emerging market – we even undertake such projects – but there are some fundamental tactics every organisation can immediately run with.

We talk about these in our recently released B2B Content Marketing 2014 special report (email us for your free PDF copy). But here are three:

1. “What do we have?” Before you ever commission or plan something ‘new’, check what you already have. It might be much easier to repurpose something from your archive. It might be that it has been tried and no one in your audience cared (which tells you something). But always start your move forward with a quick look over your shoulder.

2. Ideas, not just assets. We talk often about not just considering ‘assets’. This isn’t a phrase those with a content background would tend to use. What’s more important than the tangible pieces of content you have (more on that in point ‘3’) is the ‘why’. Even your best-performing past pieces of content aren’t appropriate if your overall goals have changed. And what of those past ideas that never got developed but in hindsight were great? You must dig up those too.

3. Beyond traditional content. A proper content audit isn’t snooty. Content doesn’t just mean blog posts, infographics, white papers or Slideshares. It is all those things and all other forms of communications. Event presentations, brochures, technical documents, how-to videos, pamphlets, podcasts – all these and more are valid. They might take some editing. They might take some updating. But find your content wherever you can.

Remember, a content audit isn’t just due diligence, isn’t just a step in a process someone has deemed ‘best practice’. More than anything, a content audit must be practical.

Any of us who have been at the content audit coalface know it can be hard work. Make that effort worthwhile and so it saves you time and money in the longer term.

photo credit: Bart van de Biezen via photopin cc

For more advice like this, on content audits but also a range of related content marketing areas, contact us for your free copy of the B2B Content Marketing 2014 special report, produced by Collective Content (UK) and Xpointo Media.

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Contact us

Contact us to find out how we can help you:

Email:  tony.hallett@collectivecontent.co.uk

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