HomeBlog What Thanksgiving Leftovers and Derivative Content Have in Common

What Thanksgiving Leftovers and Derivative Content Have in Common

June 27, 2016 | By Phyllis Davidson

  • Derivative content creation is a great way to get the most from your anchor content assets
  • Base derivative content on your target audience channel and asset type preferences, in the context of the buyer journey
  • Focus on quality of results rather than content volume

For the last few Thanksgiving holidays, my extended family has insisted on going out to dinner. I don’t like this plan, though it’s not because I like hosting or miss the tradition of the feast or retiring to the living room for football. In fact, I hate the post-dinner mess. I’m not big on tradition and football bores me. It’s what happens on the next day that I get so excited about: leftovers. Turkey sandwiches, turkey soup, warmed-up stuffing and potatoes – there’s seemingly no end to the Thanksgiving meal!

Just as the main Thanksgiving meal provides the foodstuff for many meals to come, a meaty piece of content – what we call “anchor” content – provides the substance for any number of additional content pieces. Creating this derivative content provides the opportunity to extend the value of your anchor pieces (e.g. reaching new audiences, filling gaps in the buyer journey, playing to asset-type preferences). And just as you want to be at the ready with the soup greens and Dutch crunch rolls on Thanksgiving day, it’s best to plan the derivative content at the same time that you plan your anchor content. Doing so will support content creation efficiency and provide the comprehensive content approach that’s needed to run successful campaigns.

Consider, for example, a third-party research report commissioned by your company to provide marketplace proof points for your value proposition. Here are some derivative content tips to consider:

  • Start with what’s easy. Certain derivative asset types require little additional resource to create, so it makes sense to check these off the list early in your planning. For example, if your anchor piece includes infographic elements, you can create a standalone infographic that can be delivered via social media, on your Web site or through other means. 
  • Leverage derivative assets to reach more targets. Once you have settled on an anchor asset, think through the audience goals you can achieve by creating derivative content. Is it possible that a derivative piece could reach a target buyer that the anchor piece won’t? Could an executive summary of a primary research report, for example, be used in an existing C-Level newsletter or syndicated to a site to which many of your target buyers already subscribe?
  • Fill gaps in the buyer’s journey. Craft a plan that extends the anchor content through the buyer’s journey via derivative assets. Let’s say you plan to use the research report in question in the educational phase of the buyer’s journey. Consider creating a derivative piece that demonstrates how your product provides a solution for a problem that’s cited in the research. Such an asset (e.g. demo or white paper) can be used in the selection phase of the buyer’s journey.
  • Check your “right content, right channel” data. Determine the consumption preferences for your buyer (in terms of delivery and asset type), and plan derivative content created specifically to meet them. Consider the primary research report as the anchor asset meant for several different personas, including millennial managers who favor videos. If reaching this audience is key, it may make sense for a video covering the research to be part of your plan from the outset.
  • Leverage social media channels for reach. There was a time when I personally numbered Facebook posts in a list of derivative assets. But in b-to-b marketing, we’ve learned that – perhaps with the exception of established blogs – social media is a delivery mechanism, not an asset. But social media still plays a critical role in your derivative asset plan. Use these channels to get your target buyers to view/download your anchor and derivative assets – social media may be the best way to reach certain buyers.
  • Content is more than the written word. Consider that primary research report again. Working with your field marketing colleagues, you could create an executive-level event that includes an overview of the research, along with breakout group assignments that give participants a chance to plot ways to operationalize the research recommendations. Such events can help with deal velocity (e.g. helping a buyer get approval from the company’s C-level decision-maker whom they encouraged to attend).

Just as the list of post-Thanksgiving turkey recipes is nearly infinite (have you tried homemade cranberry sauce on vanilla ice cream?) so too is the list of derivative asset types and approaches. These assets enable you to make the most of your anchor asset, while also enabling you to support marketing with additional content connected to a key theme. Like a Thanksgiving leftovers pizza, derivative assets can help you lay out your best ingredients in a new way!

Phyllis Davidson

Phyllis Davidson is Research Director, Strategic Communications Management, at SiriusDecisions. Based in the Silicon Valley, she has 20-plus years of marketing and communications leadership experience, including roles in public relations, executive and M&A communications, global campaigns and content strategy, and demand generation. Follow Phyllis on Twitter @PhyllisMusings