Marketing is hard work and inevitably there’s a dollar sign attached, so you’re probably tempted to save time and money by repurposing your content. Why write something multiple times when you can simply write it once and use it over and over wherever there’s a blank “insert content here” gap?
While repurposing content is a smart idea if done correctly, the problem arises when content is repurposed verbatim across mediums, from print to web and back. If you do this, the time and money you save may end up costing you more in the end, and costing you in terms of business and customers.
Writing for print and writing for the web are separate disciplines. You may be crafting the same message, conveying your company values, benefits, mission, services and other core information but how you go about conveying that message depends entirely on where it will be seen. You wouldn’t put your brochure on a billboard. Or print your web pages, staple them together and call it a brochure. So your brochure copy should not be reused for your website.
I’m not trying to make more work for you. There are very good reasons to distinguish between repurposing content and simply reusing it.
Your website needs effectively targeted keywords in order to be found and listed by search engines, a consideration that is irrelevant in a printed brochure. You can afford a much greater economy of words in a brochure than you can on a website where repeating keywords over and over in single concise paragraph will sound ridiculous and spammy.
Writing for the web requires a delicate balance between readability for your human visitors and keyword hooks for search crawlers.
The amount of copy that you can include in a print piece is limited by space but your site affords unlimited space to sell, convince, educate and use search engine hooks to get your site in front of your audience. While you may be compelled due to space constraints to edit your copy for your brochure, you can not only expand the content for your site, but distribute it over more pages and include more visuals or other types of rich media.
Web visitors have short attention spans and are more likely to scan, skip and ignore marketing content in search of specific information. Your brochure is probably a tightly targeted marketing piece with glowing talking points about the wonders of your product or service. But studies have shown that web users ignore the marketing bluster and look more specifically for measurable facts, peer reviews and testimonials.
Web users are also more likely to skim, focusing only on headings, bullet points and bold text before deciding what to read.
There is no such thing as “cover to cover” on a website and no linear way of reading. People who open your brochure will start at the front page and you have more leeway to assume that they will follow standard left-to-right and front-to-back conventions. People who visit your website may never see your home page and can start anywhere. That’s why it’s even more important to make every page of your site its own marketing piece. No page comes “before” or “after” another so you must create context and grab a reader’s attention no matter what page they start on.
Before you commit one word to any page, think about the people you’re trying to reach. Consider how they’ll be reading your content – under the fluorescent bulbs in an office or on the brightly lit screen of a mobile device? Consider the purpose of each marketing piece and the goals you want to achieve. You may want your brochure readers to call you for a consultation, but encourage your website readers to sign up for your newsletter.
Once you know your audience, their needs and your goals, craft your content to fit.