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Content Marketing: The Leftover Trick

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In the wake of Thanksgiving, no doubt we all lived on leftovers. I, for one, could lunch on turkey sandwiches and snack on pumpkin pie slivers for weeks. For those who prefer a little more variety, I can get you the recipe for my wife's turkey gumbo. (Or you could go to the Food Network for suggestions. I'm not sure about the turkey crostini, though.)

Few meals take as long to prepare as Thanksgiving dinner, so it's a good thing all that food doesn't go to waste. And it struck me this Thanksgiving that marketers could take a lesson from turkey gumbo—what I call the "leftover trick":

  • After you put all that work into creating that whitepaper, for example, think about what else you can make out of the asset.
  • Can your marketing team make a meal out of that webinar on social media?
  • How many weeks of "content slivers" could you eke out of a new survey?

Here are five simple ideas to get you started, all of them so easy you can even do them in a somnolent state induced by too much tryptophan in your system:

1. Slides in SlideShare: Finished your webinar? Why are your slides not in SlideShare? Last year, the site averaged 60 million unique visitors a month and 215 million page views. Lead capture is built in.

2. Q&A From Webinar Into FAQ: You just answered a bunch of questions from interested prospects. Think of all the prospects who didn't attend but might be wondering the same things. Take the Q&A from your webinar and turn it into an FAQ blog post. You can even get lazy, like I did, and get a transcription service (such as to transcribe the Q&A for you. (It cost me $21!)

3. Transcript from a Good Webinar: If the webinar went well, why not transcribe the whole thing? You can turn it into a blog post, a series of posts, or stuff it under your replay embed the way Moz does with its Whiteboard Fridays. It's great for people who prefer reading to watching, and it can't hurt your SEO if you have something interesting to say. And transcription's cheap—typically $1 per minute.

4. Blog to Podcast: Here's another easy one you can order up from the post-meal couch. Turn your blog post—or all of your blog posts—into podcasts. (Services such as VoiceBunny charge about $125 per 500 words.)

5. Tweets From a Whitepaper: All those pull quotes, captions, and interesting stats in your whitepaper are just about the right length for a tweet. Use them to promote the asset itself. Again, this is just cut-and-paste stuff.

There's almost no end to how you can repurpose content. Good organizations do it thoughtfully. Column Five calls it a "divisible content strategy": "Divisible Content is a strategy for streamlining content creation. You create one core asset that comprehensively covers a topic. This asset serves as your foundation, which you break down into smaller 'divisibles,' publishing in a variety of formats across different platforms."

(Also see Ann Handley's "This Simple Strategy Will Stuff Your Business so Full of Content That It Will Have to Wear Its Fat Pants.")

Once you try this approach with a few assets, you will no doubt arrive at a recipe that works best for your team. You can then take the same approach with all of your future assets. You may, for example, decide that all whitepapers will turn into...

  • A blog post introducing and summarizing the assets
  • A set of tweets that can be used to promote each asset
  • A few diagrams that can be shared on social media

I have taken this approach a step further in my organization. When working with contract writers and designers, instead of a whitepaper as the deliverable I now specify that I want a whitepaper, blog post, and tweets all delivered as a package.

It's usually not much more work for the writers, and they fall into your rhythm when working on projects. I find they also think more broadly about how their piece will be consumed and you get a more versatile piece as a result.

So, whether you take the leftover approach, where you think of ways to repurpose existing assets, or a planned divisible content strategy, which is more like how professional chefs use the ingredients they buy, your content yield will increase.

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Tim Matthews is VP of marketing at Incapsula and the author of The Professional Marketer. He occasionally publishes thoughts on marketing at Matthews on Marketing.

Twitter: @timmatthewssv

LinkedIn: Tim Matthews

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  • by Mary Jane Fri Dec 5, 2014 via web

    Great way to flex your content-marketing muscle. Love it!

  • by Michelle Boucher Fri Dec 5, 2014 via web


    I, too, could eat turkey and pumpkin pie ad nauseum! And, I agree on the whole leftovers/re-purposing idea. I've done this for a few years, and I cannot tell you the measure of benefit received from transcribing a webinar and slicing it into 8 pieces, then dishing it out. Not just in SEO ranking value, niche leadership and easy blog content, but ultimately in leads as well.

    I also send copies to the speaker to use - another great way to exponentially increase reach!

    Keep up the great work.

  • by Jeannette Koczela Fri Dec 5, 2014 via web

    Repurposing content is such a great way to save time. I did #3 the opposite way---I wrote an article series and then turned it into a webinar. Then I broke up the webinar into each article/slide show for a video series. But I didn't thnk to put these on SlideShare. Thanks for the suggestion, TIm.

  • by Tim Matthews Sat Dec 6, 2014 via web

    Very cool idea, Jeanette. I am going to go back through our blogs an bylines to see if there are webinars in there.

  • by Steven Lucas Tue Dec 9, 2014 via web

    So simple, so obvious and yet so seldom done. This brings the re-use, recycle, renew adage into the digital age. I especially like the idea of collating Twitter posts into a document.

    This is going to speed up e-product production no end.

    Thank you.

    Steven Lucas

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