(Photo by Yuliya Kosolapova on Unsplash)

When Hilary Marsh was at the National Association of Realtors, she remembers taking a look at all the newsletters that went out to their members. The newsletters, which went out to about a million people, were being opened by fewer and fewer people. 

Why? 

They were sending too many. 

NAR’s staff of about 300 people represented 23 different departments, and there was no streamlined newsletter. By 2009, they were sending about 100 million newsletters, according to a presentation Marsh put together. 

The NAR staff eventually got ahold of all those e-blasts and brought the number down about 50 percent. The end result was less work, a cheaper email provider bill and better open rates. 

When it comes to content production, it’s incredibly easy to continue producing the same, regular blog posts, newsletters, eBooks and case studies that have always been written. But at a certain point, your staff may do well to take a hard look and ask why something continues to be produced. 

Marsh’s advice is to look at content as though it has a lifecycle.

“I envision the content life cycle as sort of a bell curve. … Ideally, at conception, people who will be involved in creating the content … are in the room together with subject matter experts and, at that moment, they know a lot because the passion for what they’re doing and why is in that room,” Marsh said.

That’s a good time to flesh out and clearly define a content piece’s audience, purpose goals and expected time period for which it’ll be relevant. 

With everyone on the same page around those elements, it becomes easier for a piece of content to “march along its predetermined path, so from conception we get into creation, review, publishing, promotion, maintenance and end of life,” Marsh said. 

Occasionally, it’s important to circle back and take a look at things like viewership, downloads or clicks to get an idea whether continuing a piece of content, especially if it’s serialized, is necessary. And, when it’s not, letting its production go should be a natural part of the process.

Marsh offers four questions to help you define how you should stop producing content you don’t need: 

  1. How do you know your audience wants or needs it? (Or what is the business need for it?)
  2. What is the measurable goal for creating it?
  3. How do you know you need new content about this topic?
  4. What is your capacity for actually creating it?

Chelsea Brasted is the writer and editor who serves as content manager for AssociationSuccess.org. A former reporter and breaking news editor for The Times-Picayune, she lives in New Orleans with her husband and two rescue dogs.

Chelsea Brasted is the writer and editor who serves as content manager for AssociationSuccess.org. A former reporter and breaking news editor for The Times-Picayune, she lives in New Orleans with her husband and two rescue dogs.

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