A Strategic Approach to Content – Repurpose vs Multipurpose Design

Posted by



How would the way you create content and manage your content operation change if you didn’t know the:

Intended audience

Purpose or intended use cases for the content

User experience to evoke

Key points to include and exclude

Desired outcomes and associated calls to action

Required length or format?

If you intend to repurpose content, this is exactly what you are facing.

If you want to get more out of content investments – to meet content quality, timing and availability, use case coverage, version and format requirements, in light of normal budget and resource constraints – you must resolve this dilemma.


Repurpose vs. Reformat

I see a lot of confusion about the concepts repurposing and reformatting. They are not the same.

Repurpose vs Reformat Content

Most people mean reformat rather than repurpose. Take a whitepaper, webinar, etc and “turn it into” a blog, an infographic, chop it up into little videos or podcasts. Nothing wrong with this, and you absolutely should do it. But it’s reformatting not repurposing.

This is important because reformatting delivers relatively less value than repurposing.

When building anything, but especially content, it’s important to understand your primary purpose. Consider your options for content, to:

  • Entertain
  • Capture attention
  • Generate interest
  • Educate or inform (nurture for leads)
  • Demonstrate or prove
  • Explain or brief
  • Train 

Now, think about the contentS, approach, tone, writing and design factors, and how they must change depending on purpose. If your education or nurturing content sounds like marketing or selling, or just entertainment, it won’t work well.


Operate Like a Publisher

Publishers routinely operate inside these fundamental considerations. They’ve developed process, procedures and techniques to make creating content for multiple purposes a standard practice.

Publishers think of content not just as the finished product (story) that is published, but more as the component assets that comprise each story.

They know their success is due in large part to the ability of their organization to leverage and reuse component assets into many different work products, for different purposes and even formats.

This thinking dramatically changes the approach to the when, where and how you:

  • Plan and prepare your content operation
  • Acquire, edit, document and manage source inputs
  • Create modular, source content components, independent of strict context and format considerations
  • Organize, document, maintain and deploy asset inventories
  • Assemble and deliver finished work products that are appropriate for each tactical use case and purpose 

What I’ve learned from content strategists who have faced and resolved similar issues in the areas of technical publications and websites, is content marketers must get better at designing and creating content for multiple purposes and reuse.

This means we must design, write and produce highly modular content components that can stand alone or easily incorporate with other modules with minimal or no editing.

Listen to  Joe Pulizzi (@JoePulizzi) talking with Robert Rose (@Robert_Rose) on their podcast PNR This Old Marketing, Episode 8: “Content Marketing, Dead Already?” They are discussing designing content for “atomization” – another word for component — to make it easier to get more out of content projects.

Transform Marketing and Sales Content Operations

No one wants to change, let alone transform anything. So why change the way you create and handle content?

Write down your primary content challenges and constraints. If they are similar to the top challenges reported annually in the CMI/Marketing Profs survey, the underlying cause of your constraints will be operational. That’s your answer.

Once institutionalized, a content operation designed to create modular, reusable content will simplify your content operations process and deliver better results.

Greater reuse of content will reduce the time and effort to create new content, even for different purposes.

Content will be available sooner and meet more use case requirements.

Expert resources will be applied more effectively. You will get MORE out of those resources (subject experts and customer interviews for example).

This will improve the quality of content, especially in terms of useful insights, audience relevance and design.

It will allow you to deal with the inevitable scale of output you are already experiencing. But a leveraged content operation will use scale to actually lower your content costs.

Higher business outcomes have already been demonstrated to accrue from better user experiences with content.

Use my opening question to prompt a shift in thinking throughout your organization about the different purposes of content. To operate like a publisher, to get the most from your content investments and efforts, you’re going to need a very different content operations process.


Related Content

Microcontent – the most important content type you don’t manage

Modular Content Creation vs. Traditional and Structured Content Approaches

Modular Content – Creative Repurposing for Content Marketing

Video — Tom Peters – Design Everything!


Resolving the number one unconsidered cause of low B2B sales and marketing performance, and revenue growth …
… the inability to deliver effective knowledge, conversations, and situation-specific information (content), in context, at scale
Contact: jburns@avitage.com           Phone: 508-397-7059           Copyright © 2021 Avitage Consulting LLC. All rights reserved.