Today’s post is a re-post, reprinted with permission from author Sam Lewis of the U.K.-based Ember Television. Sam and his colleague Robin Powell are like the peanut butter to my chocolate in the world of financial communication service providers. While I focus on the words, Ember Television’s Regis Media team helps evidence-based advisers create high-quality videos and illustrations. words and pictures work best together in helping you reach out to your ideal audiences. I encourage you to reach out to either of us for more information. Thanks, Sam and Robin, for letting me share our conversation here!
PS: “Bespoke” is a British term for custom-crafted, so “bespoke content” means it is custom-written. Even I, a word-nut, learn something new every day by looking beyond my usual borders!
It’s well-known that for content marketing to be effective, content has to be posted regularly. A Hubspot study found that businesses that posted 15 times or more per month saw their web traffic increase by 500%. When faced with statistics like this, content marketing can seem like a beast that constantly needs feeding.
The problem is that we’re now expected to produce more content but with the same budgets. For some organisations, like financial services firms, this can seem like an impossible task.
Pre-produced content can be the cost-effective solution. Pre-produced content is content that has been created for general use. The subjects and messages are broader and don’t tend to promote a specific organisation, product or service. Because pre-produced content is bought at a fixed price, it costs less because the production costs are shared by the customers. It’s an off-the-shelf solution as opposed to being designed specifically for one organisation’s marketing goals.
Think of it as the Marks and Spencer suit to the Savile Row tailored three-piece suit: the quality is still there, but it’s designed to be worn by a large number of customers who need a suit and cannot justify having their own tailor.
For example, Regis Media, the division of Ember Television setup to serve evidence-based financial advisers, has produced a six-part series entitled “Six Steps to Successful Investing”. It’s been well-received by advisers starting their content marketing.
To find out more about pre-produced content, we caught up with Wendy Cook, who runs her own communications consultancy for evidence-based advisers in the United States.
Ember: Why did you start offering pre-produced content as a service?
Wendy: Each of my adviser clients is delightfully unique, and I wouldn’t want it any other way! But one of the reasons I work exclusively with evidence-based advisers is because of their shared commitment to focussing everything they do around their clients’ interests. I added a Content Sharing Library after realising how often I was “reinventing the wheel” when helping multiple evidence-based advisers communicate their common values. While I still love working on custom projects, it seemed beneficial to also offer advisers the choice of pre-produced content to effectively spread the costs of professionally written content on subjects of general interest to them.
How does it actually work?
I’ve tried to keep it simple, so I can focus on churning out good content. Advisers subscribe as members of the Content-Sharing Library for a flat annual fee. During that year, they can download any or all of the content that is already in the library. That includes new content, which is added at a rate of at least two new pieces every month. At the end of the year, they get an invitation to renew.
What about modifying the content?
My goal is to provide content that “works” out of the box, but that also can be modified as desired, so I typically provide the content in a fully editable Microsoft Word format. Members can then customise the content, or potentially hire me to help with that. While I retain copyright for the material, members are granted relatively wide license to use the content as they see fit.
How popular is this sort of content with advisory firms?
So far, so good. My goal is to continue serving evidence-based advisers with quality, pre-produced content, for when it makes good economic sense. It’s a specialised service for specialised purposes. In terms of numbers, the service has been up and running for nearly two years and I have around 100 members, with very strong renewal rates.
Are there any particular channels that pre-produced content particularly lends itself to?
As I mentioned, there are times when pre-produced content can be the most cost-effective method. The best use is for communicating with specific groups or individuals, such as in e-mails, e-newsletters and conversations. Some advisers have also repurposed the content into video scripts.
For use on websites or blogs (where search engines will penalise sites with duplicated content), I do not recommend using the content exactly as it is. That said, it might be a starting point for a customised version of the subject matter, such as borrowing passages and adding your own spin on it. Or another approach might be to craft a custom introductory statement in your own words and then link to the content in the form of a PDF report or white paper.
Pre-produced content should not be submitted to the media. For example, if you write a column for your local paper, that paper would expect your column to be your own, copyrighted writing.
How important is it for an adviser that at least some of their content is bespoke?
It is very important, especially in your web-based communications. Bottom line, custom content will always be the most effective way to share your unique message, tailored precisely for the specific audience you are seeking to reach. But for those of us who have not yet found that tree where money simply grows and grows, it can make good sense to save your custom content budget for your most vital messages, and take advantage of cost-effective pre-produced content where possible.