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How (and When) to Remix Old Creative Content

How (and When) to Remix Old Creative Content - Boom Online Marketing

With the ongoing threat of recessions, the cost of living crisis and *gesturing broadly at everything*, it’s going to be another challenging year for most marketers. 

As a result, it’s entirely possible that your content marketing budget (or your clients’) has been trimmed, and shrewd decisions need to be made about how to spend it.

For some companies, spending big money on a hero content campaign right now might sound risky. As with many things in life, success isn’t guaranteed (shameless plug: with the right creative content strategy you stand a better chance) and they’re often more willing to minimise the risk with smaller projects, spread across a few different avenues.

But here’s the thing, a LOT of the time spent on big campaigns comes from ideating, discarding bad ideas and refining until you have a prototype. So if you’ve seen success on a previous campaign, or seen a successful piece from another agency, then why not give it a remix? (Don’t steal, more on that later).

What makes a piece of content a good candidate for repurposing?

Ideally, everything that I’m about to mention should be considered whenever an original piece is in its early stages. You should be future-proofing your content with the aim of remixing later on when the time is right.

But, just because you can update something, doesn’t always mean you should. 

Let’s look at the basics:

Success:

Before you jump into anything, ideally you want to update something that’s worth a remix. Nobody remixed “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt did they? And neither should you (sorry, I hear he’s a very nice man).

Consider whether the campaign was successful enough to warrant another round. Have a nosey at the stats, if it was well-received the first time around, you shouldn’t be afraid to give it another go. If it was all tumbleweeds, maybe give it a miss.

That said, I would always take a bit of time to consider why a campaign wasn’t successful, as there might be unconsidered opportunities a second time around. 

But not for James Blunt (again, sorry).

Example: This piece we did for Superfi a few years ago, did so well that it definitely warranted another round.

R2DMC feat Aerosith - Ewok This Way

Budget:

With budget often being the key reason to recycle old content, you need to ensure you can do so, at the same level of quality, within the budget. 

If it was your own piece, check the time spent on the old campaign to see if you delivered on budget, not forgetting to factor in any price increases or circumstances that might make a remix more expensive.

Example: Adding a single new Pantone reference a year has made this a cost-effective, yearly winner for Aspire Doors.

simpsons pantone colours

Format change:

Seen success with a set of illustrations, or an infographic? Why not turn them into a simple video?

You don’t need to have amazing editing skills to stitch some graphics and captions together into a video, and it could mean the difference between being featured or not. 

In my experience some websites won’t take anything but a single old-school infographic, so just make sure you’re filling as many format gaps as you can.

New data:

If the data in a campaign is old, or less relevant to the audience, then it could be ripe for a refresh. Whether that’s updating a creative content piece to include new pop culture references, or researching new products on the market for a data-led piece, this is the crux of a remix: adding something new.

However, finding data can take time, so recycling content that requires a lot of new research can feel more akin to creating a brand new piece. You will need to weigh up the costs and see if it can be delivered on budget.

Example: The data behind this piece we did for CDA could be updated quickly to account for any changes or by adding new snacks to the research.  

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Outreach opportunities:

As an extension to the above point, in some (usually niche) cases you may have effectively dried up your quality outreach opportunities. Would adding a new angle, or new data expand your potential audience for this piece? 

Also, checking to see where similar pieces got coverage can be a great way to see how you might update your creative content. For example, perhaps the tone of the piece wasn’t right, or it was a bit too serious? A few tweaks of the copy and design could be all the refresh it needs.

Timing:

I was going to drop this under outreach, but it seemed more important than a footnote. If you’re looking to remix some content, dropping it at the right time can make all the difference. Ensuring you have a comprehensive content calendar in place can help with this. 

Example: This piece we did for Unbeatable Blinds could be made time-relevant again and again by adding new trending Netflix shows.

Bedtime story The Tiger Who Came To Tea reimagined as the Tiger King cartoon Carole Baskin Hugging a Tiger

Remixing other people’s content (stealing like an artist)

Okay, okay… this sounds a little dodgy but take a deep breath and repeat with me: “There’s nothing new under the sun” followed by “I must not rip off other people’s work”

We cool? I’ll continue…

steal like an artist

It’s MORE THAN OKAY to be influenced by and expand on other people’s ideas; we wouldn’t have ANY of the movies, Netflix series or music we have today without it. 

It’s called “Stealing Like an Artist” which my good friend and colleague Wayne Barker has spoken and written about at length, who, in turn stole it from the writer/artist Austin Kleon.

Now, it doesn’t give you carte blanche to plagiarise, instead it lays down simple rules around how one can “steal” ideas to create new pieces. But crucially for content creators, what it also does is provide a pathway to quicker content ideas, and therefore it’s ideal when you’re on a budget. 

How so? Well if you’ve got your finger on the pulse you’ll know what sort of content, what pop culture references etc have been doing well out there in the world of creative content and digital PR

My advice is to keep a swipe file (I use Trello, but a spreadsheet or Word doc is fine too). Here you can stow all your shiny finds like some kind of digital magpie. You’ll soon start to see patterns and tropes in the type of content that does well, and you can apply it to your clients’ niches. 

Trends will shift over time, so it’s important to keep on top of your swipe file. Here are just a few examples:

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Things reimagined as other things

Okay so we all love to see Disney princesses reimagined as other things and this format is as strong as ever. It can get good results whatever industry niche you are in, whether it’s The Simpson’s house reimagined in other styles or famous songs reimagined as book covers they’re almost always engaging and great fun.

How many things can fill a thing?

I’ve seen so many of these over the years and they always do well, whether it’s plastic waste or how many songs would fill an ipod. It’s the same idea, just applied differently.

What’s the most popular thing in a thing?

Again, really strong format. People are fascinated by people, even if it seems at first glance something fairly banal. Take the most popular emojis around the world or the most loved takeaways in the UK. It’s a simple format and if your client has unique data you can do the same for them.

Remove (or reveal) things from places

Done well this can be very effective and there are so many ways to approach it. From removing visual pollution from cities to seeing what cities would look like without iconic landmarks. Fancy sliders aside, you can achieve the same with a gif, or two sets of images.

I could go on. There are of course many more out there and I heartily recommend signing up to Mark Porter’s fabulous Content, Curated newsletter, Iona Townsley’s wonderfully comprehensive Grapevine. And of course, seeing whatever crap I’m tweeting out at 3am in the morning. 

So, let’s summarise:

  • Plan to future-proof, try to create content that can be remixed
  • Try to provide your content in as many formats as possible
  • Keep an eye on the data, or pop culture for easy updates
  • Keep a swipe file on any content types that can be remixed, look for tropes
  • Don’t be afraid to steal like an artist (honour, study, credit etc but never duplicate)
  • Follow a variety of different content curators

If you’d like to learn more about creative content, or how you can reuse and recycle what you already have, just get in touch and one of our content marketing specialists will be more than happy to help.

Peter Bingham

Peter Bingham

Peter has over 20 years of design, content and illustration experience, eclectically weaving his ideas and creativity through a mixture of design disciplines, including print, content and web design. Give him some crayons and watch him go!View Author posts

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