To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted …”
Content marketing demands constant attention, just like gardening. Here are 7 ideas that marketers can learn from gardeners in autumn.
1.) Extend your growing season by protecting your plants. For example, we grow some leafy green plants under plastic, to keep the heat in and extend the growing season.
Weed cloth not only suppresses the weeds and eliminates any need for herbicides, it also warms the soil to keep crops growing even after the first freeze.
Lesson: Extend the life of your content by freshening up existing perennial content with new angles, facts and figures. Even your evergreen content needs a trim now and then.
2.) Harvest thoroughly. All year long, we look forward to the fall harvest. Even though we’re pretty far north in Chicago, we can harvest as late as December, especially in years that are unusually warm like this one.
But remember to harvest as soon as possible. I’m still kicking myself for not bringing in all of our Asian pears before I went on a 2-week trip. By the time I got home, scavengers had eaten the rest.
Lesson: Harvest early and often. Use frequent calls to action to harvest customers.
3.) Trade. We have established trading with our gardening neighbors, sharing crops. This year our neighbors grew and shared surplus rosemary and potatoes, while we grew and shared surplus lettuce.
Lesson: Trade abundant content with others through guest blogging and curation.
4.) Preserve. Harvest is not the end – it’s only the beginning of the activity of autumn. We spend time to preserve what we’ve grown – canning, drying, preserving and protecting the harvest.
Lesson: Wise content marketers preserve ongoing communications with new prospects who haven’t made a buying decision yet. Once new customers have been won, it’s time to make future offers to upsell and cross-sell.
If your product has a limited lifecycle, you may even be able to forecast when customers will need replacements, and design the content calendar accordingly.
5.) Clean up. As the leaves fall in autumn, you have to rake again and again. Some trees like our Russian quince stubbornly cling to their leaves well into winter.
It’s a tempting thought to skip the chore of raking … but if you do, it creates future work. Leaves turn the soil acidic: a telltale sign is moss growing on the ground.
Wherever there’s moss, you can’t grow grass unless you add lime to the soil to make it viable again. So it saves a lot of work to rake up the leaves in the first place.
Lesson: Be foresighted. Do the one chore today that lets you avoid having to do two chores tomorrow.
When strong winds blow, branches fall from our trees, creating windfall. We collect branches to start fires in the fireplace over the winter.
Bonus Lesson: Look at what content resources are available and ask: are they trash or could they become treasure?
6.) Protect. After clearing weeds, leaves and branches, it’s time to protect plants with mulch so they overwinter well. This is especially important for sensitive plants such as our fig trees, which surprised us by growing miraculously far to the north here in Chicago.
Lesson: Protect your evergreen content by tending it and freshening it. Continue to share bite-size pieces with your audience through social media.
7.) Be grateful. We are grateful for the fruits of our labors, and our ability to share with family and friends.
On Thanksgiving this year, we harvested a last round of vegetables from the garden. We had fresh local organic lettuce, kale, chard, Brussel sprouts, and carrots in our Thanksgiving meal.
Lesson: Be grateful to customers. Smile at them. Say thank you.
At the end of every season, we make careful note of what we learned this year. What worked and what didn’t. What to do more of, what to do less of next season.
We’ll spend winter dreaming about what we can plant in the spring. We browse seed and tree websites and catalogs, order trees and shrubs, and imagine the new experiments that we’ll undertake in spring.
With our actions of harvesting, preserving, trading, cleaning up, protecting and planning, we set the stage for a productive next year.
Content marketers can learn a lot from gardeners. Here’s more:
- 5 lessons for content marketing from gardeners in the spring
- 7 lessons for content marketing from gardeners in the summer
- 7 lessons for content marketing from gardeners in the winter.
As a marketing change agent, I consult with clients, lead content marketing workshops for the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and write the weekly Simplify Marketing blog.
With experience from Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, RR Donnelley and Tellabs, I've been named:
- Content Marketer of the Year by the Content Marketing Institute.
- Best Marketer by BtoB magazine.
- A B-to-B CMO to watch by Fierce CMO.