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Rehashing: The New Boring Marketing Concept

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Definition of rehashing: Regurgitating content we've all heard before, ad infinitum. May cause gag reflex and/or extreme yawning.

Sure, we occasionally read original content based on an original thought or study results that cast a new light on previous perceptions or a new technology in town. But, realistically, how much content can marketing writers and publishers contribute to social media and publishing without sounding redundant? Is there anything new under the sun anymore?

Now, before you jump down my throat and tell me I'm nuts, let's do an experiment. Enter the following in your browser search bar:
"Does your website build trust?"

What do you get? In Google, I got about 12,200,000 results that include the following organic listings on the first page alone:

Are you bored yet?

I suppose if you're new to a topic, then reading the same points in each article is comforting. At least, that way, you can assume the information is credible. But, what if you're looking for something NEW---something refreshing on the same topic? Then, this can become a frustrating experience.

So, here are my questions for the content creators:

  • How do you write fresh marketing content?

  • Do you think fresh content matters?

  • Where do you get fresh ideas that haven't been rehashed a million times?

Oh, and one more thing ... I did a search on Google: "Rehashing: The New Boring Marketing Concept," and guess what? Nothing came up ---yet.

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A Canadian who relocated to the U.S., Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of SOLUTIONS Marketing & Consulting LLC, a boutique marketing and communications agency located in Scottsdale, Arizona. During her career, Elaine has worked for, and with, many organizations, associations, and businesses, across North America, on marketing strategy and communications tactics.

From her earlier agency career assignments freelance copywriting Procter & Gamble, Nestlé Carnation, and Kraft materials, to “inside” senior-level marketing positions, Elaine’s passion for marketing has evolved to helping clients reach new heights through strategic brand-building, integrated marketing communications, and customer orientation.

She has been a contributing writer for The Business Journal and her articles have appeared in many publications, including the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Marketing News, The Arizona Republic, Advancing Philanthropy, and several association publications. She has been interviewed by CNN, Connect Magazine, and The Capitol Times, and her content was included in Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits by Jay Conrad Levinson, Frank Adkins, and Chris Forbes. Nonprofit Consulting Essentials by Penelope Cagney. and Share of Mind, Share of Heart by Sybil F. Stershic.

Elaine is a Faculty Associate at the Arizona State University Lodestar Center for Philanthropy & Nonprofit Innovation and a professional member of the National Speakers Association – she does keynotes and presentations on business and nonprofit marketing, branding, customer orientation, and cause marketing at conferences and meetings.

Elaine’s career has also included stints as a cookbook author, teacher, singer, and television show host. A golf and tennis enthusiast, Elaine is enjoying life in the sunny Sonoran Desert while serving clients across North America.

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  • by Amanda Brandon Tue Mar 15, 2011 via blog

    Thank you for writing this Elaine. The only benefit I see to rehashing is using a blog post or previously published piece as a element to start a new conversation or as a proof point to a new piece of content. I've worked on email campaigns where it was just the same message swapped around. I'm ok with repetition in marketing, but not going out and getting new stories, case studies or new research just irks me. Your audience may be new, but your existing audience is just going to ignore you. And, we scratch our heads in wonder at why no one clicks through.

  • by Paul Barsch Tue Mar 15, 2011 via blog

    Hi Elaine, thought provoking post this morning. Speaking for myself, I find new content from reading various publications and books and then synthesizing. Even then, I still find myself stuck with "five ways to improve your public speaking" type posts from time to time.

  • by Michael Perla Tue Mar 15, 2011 via blog

    Nice piece. Original ideas and concepts are hard to find. Most of us are retailers of ideas - few inventors. A lot of seminal thinkers apply one discipline to another ... e.g., physics to marketing or psychology to finance. Some are sucessful and some aren't, but looking at something through another lens is often enlightening. It's a classic "re-framing" exercise ... there are numerous brainstorming techniques - e.g., reverse thinking, attribute change, rolestorming, etc. - that can be useful to help one think in new, innovative ways. I do think fresh content matters. I will often read it on the spot ... it draws you in.

  • by Chris Tucker Tue Mar 15, 2011 via blog

    Hi Elaine, I wrestle with this idea as a consultant in social media. One big contributor to the problem is the heavy weight that search engines place on cross-linking and link backs. Every book I've read on SEO and writing for SEO talks about the importance of connecting the thought-dots, even to the point of rewarding a writer for proving that an idea is not necessarily original but validated by the opinions of others. Most people who re-hash or scrape are simply unwilling to invest time and thought into their online efforts, so we end up with the same stuff "re-hashed". "Sharing" is rewarded over originality in SEO, or at least it seems. I will always prefer originality and authenticity over "re-hashing", although sharing great ideas is good for all of us at times. Thanks for your post!

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Mar 15, 2011 via blog

    I agree with you, Amanda. "The only benefit I see to rehashing is using a blog post or previously published piece as a element to start a new conversation or as a proof point to a new piece of content."

    Heck, I've been guilty from time to time, too, reminding my readers of the marketing basics. Reiteration is especially important for non-marketing professionals. But I try to do that in direct marketing rather than in public media spaces.

    Thanks for weighing in!

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Mar 15, 2011 via blog

    Thanks, Paul! I know what you mean, and different sources can bring varying perspectives on any one topic. Or, when we read the same message from different content creators, it tends to build credibility for the information. On the other hand, rehashing is so prevalent that for those of us who are looking for something new, it can be a disappointment.

    Thanks, my friend.

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Mar 15, 2011 via blog

    You are so right, Michael. "Original ideas and concepts are hard to find." For those of us who blog and write content regularly, coming up with something innovative or fresh can be a challenge. I like your ideas on brainstorming.

    Thanks for your comment.

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Mar 15, 2011 via blog

    Hi, Chris. Good point on SEO. It's a volume business to build optimization, isn't it? There's nothing wrong with sharing - I do it all the time when I read something I believe will bring value to certain people. Unfortunately, you're right, it doesn't reward originality. But, one would think that writing original content would draw more followers to blogs and social media, right?

    Thanks for making this point.

  • by chandani Tue Mar 15, 2011 via blog

    Elaine, Thank you. I was thinking of starting something new and different on my blog and you gave me the direction. For me new content is reading what others have written along with books and finding the niche or my input. But still today with so many online content it is very tough to create a unique content.

  • by Mark - VAR Marketing Provider Tue Mar 15, 2011 via blog

    Thanks for the post Elaine. I think rehashing can have value when you use the content as a starting point, add your own thoughts/experience, and put it in a context that's useful to your audience. For instance let's say you work with nonprofit organizations ... you might publish a blog post that features the "5 Tactics That Nonprofits Can Use to Build Trust On Your Website." While there might be 12.2 million search results on "Does Your Website Build Trust," there are far fewer results for "Does Your Nonprofit Website Build Trust."

    Another thought is that you can rehash "boring" content and make it a lot more exciting.

    Ideally, you're cranking out original content every single time. But you're right, there just isn't enough new stuff under the sun. So if you're going to rehash and pay that content forward, then add your own spin, make it relevant (to your audience), and add value.

    My 2 cents ...

    P.s. I agree with some of the other comments about the value of sharing the ideas of others with your network AND using an existing blog post/content as a starting point for a new conversation.

  • by Constance Semler Tue Mar 15, 2011 via blog

    Hi, Elaine.

    You make a very good point. Good (fresh) content is hard to find and takes effort to produce.

    I second Michael Perla's ideas of how to get ideas for fresh content, and I'd add two to his list:

    1) Sample cutting-edge research in a particular area. For example, on the subject of website trust, researchers and academics that study persuasion and online behavior have fresh insights (B.J. Fogg and team at Stanford come to mind) to stimulate thinking on the topic.
    2) I also like to look at something that is important and commonly overlooked. For example, I noticed people write all the time about video content but not about audio content as much, so I wrote about improving quality of audio content.

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Mar 15, 2011 via blog

    Chandani, I guess when "they" say there's nothing new under the sun, it must be true. :) Obviously, coming up with unique content every single time we write is almost impossible. I agree that we can bring our own perspective to something already said. That, in itself, is unique, isn't it?

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Mar 15, 2011 via blog

    Thanks, Constance. New research can always bring new perspectives and takes on things. And you're right about finding the gaps. There are plenty of marketing topics not being covered today because of the obsession with electronic media. Thanks for adding your two cents.

  • by Dhana Tue Mar 15, 2011 via blog

    We are living in an age of information overload. The same applies for articles and re-hashing of articles. We cannot live without 'Google'. With so much information out there already, we need someone (search engines) to search the relevant data for us.

    Rehashing is unavoidable, unless you are Gartner or Forrester or other research agencies, because it involves time, skill and money.

  • by Elaine Fogel Tue Mar 15, 2011 via blog

    Agreed, Dhana. However, what the search engines will prioritize is what the search engine marketers have done well, irrespective of the content's originality, value, quality, or even relevance. Although rehashing is unavoidable, it is so refreshing when something different and unique comes along. Thanks for your comment!

  • by Graham Hendry Wed Mar 16, 2011 via blog

    While you may have a valid point I need to take exception with your use of the fact that the search argument "Does your website build trust" entered into the Google search engine returned 12,200,000 results. Whilst the number 12,200,000 may be correct, only a very small fraction of these results (say 100 or maybe 500) would relate to the whole search argument you entered and therefore will support your proposition.

    The other 12 million or so results will relate to any reference that Google has found that contain the word "Website" or the word "Build" (as in Bob the Builder, Buildings for sale, Build a house or what-ever) or the word "trusts" (Bankers Trust, trust your local politician, trust me etc etc etc.) To use a figure of 12,200,000 results weakens your article unless you can show that a large proportion of these really do relate to what you are claiming.
    Sorry to be boring.

  • by Leo Dimilo Wed Mar 16, 2011 via blog

    Well, Elaine, I think that the real issue has to do with where in the circle of discovery you are. Just because it isn't new to you doesn't necessarily mean that it is not new to someone else (or the person writing it).

    The freshness factor really depends on who you are writing to and where they are at in the point of discovery. I probably wouldn't write my views on developing social graphs for market segmentation, for instance, to someone who thinks that social media marketing is simply just a matter of signing up to twitter and getting followers.

    But if I had an audience that wanted to know about twitter, I could write about that in spite of the fact that it has been done and redone over and over. What's old news to me may be fresh to them.

    Of course, this is from a strictly social media perspective. The glut of rehashed content in search has reached the point of ridiculous.

  • by Elaine Fogel Wed Mar 16, 2011 via blog

    You make a good point, Mark. When you add your personal take, or apply a marketing concept to a different sector, industry, or segment, it becomes original. And, since I work with several nonprofits, I do that frequently. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  • by Elaine Fogel Wed Mar 16, 2011 via blog

    You are correct, Graham! I did not use quotation marks in my search, so the quantity of results is inaccurate. Rather than state the Google number of results, I should have used the term, "many" or "several." I stand corrected, my friend. And, you aren't boring. I welcome your comments. :)

  • by Elaine Fogel Wed Mar 16, 2011 via blog

    True, Leo. I thought about that. There may be a lot of rehashed content on any one topic, but if you write something similar specific to YOUR audience who may not be aware of it at all, then, to them it is original. But the fact still remains that, "The glut of rehashed content in search has reached the point of ridiculous." Thanks for adding your comment.

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