From articles to press releases, from brochures to books, from ads to advertorials, the web has reduced the cost of exposing your content by orders of magnitude. So spending less resources on getting your content out there means you can spend more time on producing killer content, right?
The bottom line is that your organization can’t function without content. Content is the life blood of any marketing organization, and without it, your organization will soon wither and die. You need a steady stream of content; it needs to be high-quality; and you need lots of it. So yes, the new world order the web enables means that you can spend more of your resources on producing killer content.
But there’s more to it than that. The fact that the web has reduced the cost of exposing your content by orders of magnitude means you should actually be spending MORE time on this aspect of marketing, not less.
I remember my friend Steve, when he was in the pizza business about 20 years, telling me how many different magazines there were for pizza. I laughed. Pizza? It’s certainly a strange world we live in. But several years later, when I spent a lot of time working in the advertising area, I started to really understand what he was talking about. There wasn’t just a magazine for everything—there were three or more magazines for everything. And it seemed like every magazine in the world, no matter how obscure or irrelevant to my marketing mission, started sending sample copies to me.
Things are different now. Many of those magazines are (thankfully) dead; of those that were not killed off by the Internet, most have suffered greatly, and significantly modified their business models. But the one sample magazine I received in the mail many years ago that will forever leave an impression on me was Render Magazine.
What is rendering? If you’re squeamish, you may want to skip past this definition I found on Wikipedia and pick up this story again with the next paragraph: “Rendering is a process that converts waste animal tissue into stable, value-added materials. Rendering can refer to any processing of animal products into more useful materials, or more narrowly to the rendering of whole animal fatty tissue into purified fats like lard or tallow. Rendering can be carried out on an industrial, farm, or kitchen scale. A rendering process yields a fat commodity (yellow grease, choice white grease, bleachable fancy tallow, etc.) and a protein meal (meat and bone meal, poultry byproduct meal, etc.). Rendering plants often also handle other materials, such as slaughterhouse blood, feathers and hair, but do so using processes distinct from true rendering.”
It’s a gruesome practice to picture in your mind, especially for the vegetarians/vegans out there as well as the PETA crowd. But look beyond animal brutality and the lessor-known aspects of the modern food industrial complex for a minute and think about this: if you’re going to kill an animal, for any reason, you better make damn sure that it was worth it. And that’s what rendering is all about. Virtually no part of the animal goes to waste. It’s a case study in sustainability, no matter how grisly.
So what does rendering have to do with marketing?
Advertising has always been different than many other aspects of marketing. One of the most important aspects of advertising is repetition—creating the perfect message, and then getting that one message out to the world over and over again, often running the same exact advertisement in numerous magazines and on many different web sites over a period of months or longer.
In stark contrast to advertising, the party line has always been that the rest of your content needs to be new. It needs to be different. Oh, buried deep in each unique story, you’re reinforcing common messages and themes in subtle ways. But the content itself needs to be fresh. Every time.
Why is that? The point of killer content is that you’re telling your story the absolutely best way you possibly can at a given point in time—that’s what killer content is all about. So if you’ve invested your resources in refining your story to the point of perfection, why would you want to change it? You wouldn’t dream of running a unique advertisement in every issue of every magazine you’re advertising in, would you? So why do you insist on doing that with the rest of your content?
Content Rendering is the process of converting your killer marketing content into other useful, value-added materials. This includes both derivation—the process of taking big blocks of content and parsing them out into many smaller pieces—and consolidation—the process of taking the little things you do and turning them into something bigger (see “So, You Want to Write an e-Book?”). Content Rendering can be carried out on an organizational, departmental, or individual scale.
Unlike many other publications, Render Magazine seems to have survived the web revolution just fine. There’s always money in efficiency—even more so during tough economic times—and that’s what rendering is all about. For your marketing organization, this is where the big opportunities lie. Because if your killer content gets published in one place and then languishes for eternity on your hard drive, it’s just one big waste of valuable resources.