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Content Marketing

How to Fix Bad Content to Make It Good

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Good content goepps

Do you have a digital filing cabinet of content gone wrong?

It includes pieces you were never able to use because they’re:

  • Articles made obsolete due to news events.
  • Press releases or studies never picked up by the media.
  • Guest content that wasn’t received well by your team.
  • Case studies that never really made the case.
  • Pieces your leadership team never fully embraced or liked at all.

Never give up! Here’s what you need to do to bring that content back to life so it can see the light of day and maybe provide value to the people in your target audience.

IDENTIFY ZOMBIE CONTENT

You probably don’t remember (or maybe you’d rather forget) every piece of content that never got published.

To find these hidden gems, search your systems for items that were created but never got published.

Also, look through your own and your team’s hard drives and cloud storage for completed drafts that never made it to the finish line.

Once you find some of this content, it’s time to figure out if it’s that bad (probably not.) There’s likely a gem in that lump of coal waiting to be mined.

REVITALIZE DEAD CONTENT

Work your way through your content graveyard. See if there are any great ideas in a piece that could be turned into something new and actually good.

  • Maybe a research report wasn’t profound enough to get published in a respected journal. Perhaps it might be repurposed into a blog or infographic that provides value to customers.
  • Do you have a blog article that’s conceptually great, but the writer assigned it couldn’t do it justice? Give it to a more appropriate writer — or editor — who could get it right.
  • Maybe you have some writing that’s a snooze. This could be another example of a piece that needs an author with a mindset or perspective that can make it compelling.
  • Do you have materials that hit the kill bin because of current events? What’s current eventually becomes history. Something that was once a lightning rod or passé might be extremely valid today (maybe with some hindsight tweaks.)
  • Have you found pieces that seemed so wrong they never got published but now prove your organization was ahead of the curve? Maybe they could be framed in an article that shows how right and prescient your company was.

Bad content to good: You work for a decorator. Just as the pandemic started, you were ready to publish a series of blog posts about how to make your home comfortable for guests. COVID-19 made the content utterly wrong for the time being. You may have forgotten that you filed it. However, right now, it could be beneficial information, especially since people are out of practice hosting guests, and their homes may not be ready. Now could be the perfect time to pull the pieces from the content dustbin and publish them, maybe adding a few post-pandemic references.

Tip: The previous example shows that content that was quashed because of current events could have a life in the future. Have a plan for reassessing this type of content every few weeks or months to see if it’s become viable. Otherwise, it could be forgotten over time.

HOW TO IDENTIFY TRULY BAD CONTENT FROM POSSIBLY GOOD

Sometimes, a piece of unpublished content deserves to end up in the eternal content grave. Some examples include:

  • The content is so outdated that it’s impossible to make it current.
  • The piece is based on a flawed idea.
  • It’s offensive to certain groups.
  • It’s politically incorrect.
  • A case study features someone who is no longer a customer.
  • An article is written for a persona your brand no longer serves.
  • The author is no longer respected.

It’s important to know that this type of content may not be completely dead. You could mine it for interesting bits and use it in social media, newsletter blurbs, customer quotes, and other short-form purposes. Some examples of this include

  • Quotes from experts
  • Helpful tips
  • Sidebars or short sections of longer pieces
  • Resource lists

Never let any usable material go to waste! This content mining project could be ideal for interns or junior employees with downtime. It can help teach them how to reuse content in creative ways.

Find out for certain if your content is any good. This article explains how.

FINALLY…

We hope this article proves that it’s worthwhile to search through your content attic. You might find some former losers you could turn into future winners. In some cases, with a fresh eye, you might find the content wasn’t terrible. In certain circumstances, it might have been the right piece at the wrong time.

You’ve already invested effort and money in the ditched content. Now could be the time to get something out of it. Want to avoid making marketing mistakes? Check out our tips for not making the nine most common marketing mistakes. And nine more.