Mining for Content: How to Dig for Derivative Content Gems


Brenda Caine, Senior Content Strategist



Stuck on creative ideas for new content? Need to create content for a multi-touch nurture campaign, fast? Have a new product or campaign and no content to support it? Or maybe you just have lofty content creation goals on a limited budget?

No matter your reason creating compelling content can feel overwhelming. But what if we told you that pure content gold was hiding right under your nose? All you have to do is dig for it! It may sound crazy, but there are a few best practices you can follow to turn a single asset into a treasure-trove of powerful and cost-effective derivative content. Here are some standard steps our content strategy team follows when we work on repurposing projects:


Don’t Start Digging Without a Plan!

Like a skilled gold miner, you can’t begin your journey for content treasure without a plan. Your plan will vary depending on whether you’re attempting to uncover content ideas from existing pieces or if you’re creating net-new assets with the intent to create derivative assets.

If you’re starting from scratch, think of ways to design your foundational asset so you can easily extract and reuse content. Can you incorporate data-driven callouts or bulleted lists? Are there different sections or chapters that can be promoted on their own? Designing with repurposing in mind is key to ensuring you’re not creating content that doesn’t serve your broader marketing goals and needs. Even better: this content is already reviewed by your team internally and approved! All you have to do is place it in a new design template or format. That’s right: shorter timelines, faster approvals and efficient investment!

If you want to venture into your content library to discovery any unchartered territory, we find there are a few formats that are pure content marketing gold. 


Derivative Content Goldmine: Our Favorite Formats

We believe with the right strategy and a little bit of creative brainpower, you can create derivative content from essentially any piece. But there are a few top formats we consider our go-to’s:

Survey Reports

Survey reports similar to the 2017 Content Preferences Survey Report published by Demand Gen Report (DGR) are fantastic candidates for repurposing content. Why? Because you can easily collect quantitative results that are easily adapted — straight from the survey — into graphically oriented short-form content. Trends or insights discovered provide a rich vein of potential longer-form content, thought leadership pieces and practical guides.

 “Hero” or “Pillar” Assets

“Hero” assets (or some call them “Big Rock” assets) should be central to any organization’s content strategy. Typically, any long-form asset, such as an E-book, white paper or comprehensive guide, hero assets are extremely detailed, meaty and chock-full of great content! Chapters or sections of your asset of choice can be extracted and restructured for different formats. Or, you can pull out key data points and transform them into a compelling infographic.

The possibilities are practically endless. If you want to have some fun, test the approach on one of your top-performing assets. We think you’d be surprised by how many ideas you will find.


Derivative Content Gems

Just like there are go-to formats chock-full of great content, there are a few staple formats that can serve you extremely well as you create your derivative content. Here are a few of our favorites:  


Infographics are always an obvious and logical choice when you have lots of data at your disposal. Make yours come alive by exploring ways to embrace creative themes and storylines, or by making them interactive. For example, we helped a client transform a white paper on cloud-based supply chain management into a roadmap-themed infographic highlighting the key data points and best practices.  


Listicles are pretty much what they sound like — short-form, list-based assets. Websites like BuzzFeed come to mind as proponents for listicles. But we bring the format to the next level by making them interactive and structuring them so they tease readers by giving them just a taste of information. Highlighting only three to seven items, listicles encourage further exploration through links to longer-form assets, videos, podcasts or other content.

Look for a theme within your larger asset that ties into a broader story or narrative. Are there keys to success that you can highlight? Are there any challenges or pitfalls your buyers should take note of? Key trends they should know? This is all valuable fodder for a great listicle. You can check out an example here.

Blog Posts

By standard best practice, you should be able to create at least two derivative blog posts from every piece of content you create. The great thing about blogs, though, is there are no restrictions as far as how to structure or organize your pieces! You can create blogs focused on the sub-topics highlighted in your foundational content, or you can focus on key trends and data points. Even better: you can spotlight success stories included as case study side bars.

Your brand messaging, tone, style and editorial guidelines will dictate the best approach. However, we recommend having some fun when you can. Is there a way to tap current events, popular culture or holidays for an underlying blog theme? And if you want to get the best bang for your content buck, experiment with different blog lengths. Pieces can be anywhere from 400 words to 2,000. Try different things and see how your audience responds.


Checklists are great because they can serve both your middle-stage and late-stage content needs. It all depends on the angle you take. For example, you can focus on ways buyers can embrace trends and disruptions highlighted in your foundational content. Or, you can highlight “top things to remember” for brands as they research and compare different solutions. Ideally, you want to include some information from your foundational asset — whether it’s data, examples or quotes from thought leaders — and integrate more objective insights and best practices that align with your brand’s key value propositions. 


Get Ready to Dig

Content repurposing doesn’t stop with content derivatives. Keep in mind that you can reversion both modular and derivative content for different personas, industry verticals, and even for specific accounts. Tweak and personalize titles, images and other small components to see an increase in your content inventory and get more value from your content investments (without breaking the bank).


Interested in identifying your best modular content pieces and/or learning more about how to create derivative assets? We can help you start mining that gold buried in your content. Contact our director of marketing and demand gen, Steve Voith, to find out how.


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