Gettysburg AddressAs you shape a content marketing strategy, does one need to create a lot of original content or is it enough to gather up links to interesting content created by others? The decision has real implications about the types of resources required to be effective. The constant concern over “feeding the beast” leaves many executives wondering whether it’s even worth pursuing a content marketing strategy, but understanding the options may help clarify the approach.

Of course, it’s not a simple black and white question. There are many shades of gray. So let’s take a look at some of the considerations to help you make this important decision for your own organization.

It’s Not How You Create the Content, It’s How Your Audience Perceives It

The key to good content marketing is to produce a product that your target audience wants to consume. It needs to be indispensable to them in some form. It might answer questions they have, keep them up-to-date on industry happenings, or share inside knowledge.

This compelling content can come from either aggregation or publishing.

Good Aggregation Isn’t Simply a List of Links

Here’s where many executives get confused. For an effective aggregation approach, you need to make careful editorial selections and surround the links with some context. People will rarely keep coming back to a site that does nothing but serve up random bookmarks – no matter how good the linked content may actually be.

Most audiences want to be able to skim through aggregated content and cherry pick certain ones to explore more deeply. That means that they will rely on the headlines and any summaries provided to help them make those decisions.

In some respects, aggregation can actually be more challenging. It takes a lot of time to find the best pieces to share and then surround them with the context needed to ensure you are passing on additional value.

Aggregation does have the advantage of permitting an organization to explore a broader range of topics than they might otherwise be able to cover – after all the level of expertise needed to summarize tends to be less than that required to author an original piece.

Not All Original Content Needs to be the Gettysburg Address

Yes, writing from scratch is hard and takes time. Even the best writers need to take time to research topics or fight through inevitable writer’s block. But not every piece of content in your arsenal needs to be good enough that it lives on in the reader’s mind forever.

In fact, most organizations fail to recognize just how much content they already create. Internal memos, press releases, white papers, membership communications, pitch decks, and all sorts of other things can serve as the basis for a good publishing-based content marketing approach.

If you have a long-form piece of content, break it up into manageable chunks to use on a blog or Facebook page. If you wrote something a year ago, but the topic still matters, reuse the original but update it slightly with current events or any changes that have taken place recently.

Take a client proposal and extract language that doesn’t give away their specific challenge and use that as the foundation for a piece of content. Share relevant slides from presentation on services like SlideShare and then embed them in a blog post. Record webinars and share those online. Videotape presentations at conferences, then post them to YouTube and your blog with a summary. Ask industry experts to respond to simple questions by email – thus sharing the writing burden.

None of this requires a clean sheet of paper and original ideas 24/7 to be successful.

But, Wait, You Didn’t Tell Me Which One We Should Do!

Bingo! In most cases, your digital team should work on a combined content marketing strategy that leverages original content with well-curated aggregation. Blending the best of both together allows an organization to cover a broad range of relevant topics while effectively managing resources.