To everything 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 …”
For years we’ve pampered our Asian pear trees. This year the big payoff came: a bumper crop of crisp, sweet fruit. Harvest time!
Like gardening, content marketing demands your constant attention. At home, we’re slowly transforming our yard from a conventional lawn with shade trees into an unconventional vegetable and herb garden with fruit trees and berry bushes.
Perhaps an unconventional approach can help you keep your content fresh. Here are 7 ideas that content marketers can take from gardeners in autumn.
1.) Extend your growing season by protecting your plants. For example, grow leafy greens under plastic or in a greenhouse.
We use weed cloth to suppress weeds and eliminate the need for herbicides, so all our crops can be completely organic. Weed cloth also has a side benefit – it warms the soil to keep crops growing even after the first light freeze.
Lesson: Lengthen the life of your content. Freshen up existing evergreen content with new news angles, facts and figures.
Even evergreen content needs a trim now and again. It’s amazing how much new growth you can get from freshening what you have already.
2.) Harvest early. All year long, we look forward to the fall harvest. But every year plays out differently come harvest time.
This year we had to start harvesting early. That’s because our Asian pears are weighing down the trees so heavily, the branches are threatening to break.
So we’re starting to harvest little by little, to unburden the tree and keep the fruit coming.
Lesson: Harvest early and often. Use frequent calls to action to harvest customers.
3.) Trade. There’s no need to grow it all yourself. Trade with fellow gardeners.
This year we grew 200 fresh herb plants for our friend André, a French chef who prepared our wedding feast (Diane and I married in our back yard on July 9). Now we’re sharing a bounty of herbs with friends, and drying some to use over the winter too.
Our neighbors are sharing surplus tomatoes and potatoes. We’re long on squash and Asian pears this year, so we’re sharing those crops.
Lesson: Share abundant content with others. Take advantage of guest blogging and curation. Bring more variety into your content mix and into theirs too.
4.) Preserve. Harvest isn’t the end – it’s only the beginning. Spend time to preserve what you’ve grown – canning, drying, preserving and protecting the harvest.
We even harvest and dry seeds that we can plant next year.
Lesson: How can you create content to help you preserve your prospects and customers’ goodwill? How can you find the seeds of new content ideas among the old?
5.) Clean up. As leaves begin falling in autumn, we’ll have to rake again and again. Some trees such as our Russian quince stubbornly cling to their leaves well into winter.
It’s tempting to skip the chore of raking … but if you do, it only creates more work in the future. Rotting leaves turn the soil acidic: one 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, as much as we dislike the work of raking up the leaves, we recognize that it saves a lot of work later on.
Lesson: Be foresighted. Do the one chore today that lets you avoid having to do two chores tomorrow.
Look at your available content resources and ask: are they trash or can they become treasure?
6.) Protect. After clearing weeds, leaves and branches, it’s time to protect plants with mulch so they overwinter well.
Protection is crucial for sensitive plants like fig trees, which have surprised and delighted us by growing vigorously so far north.
Lesson: Protect your evergreen content by tending it and freshening it. Share bite-size pieces through social media.
7.) Be grateful. We’re grateful for the fruits of our labors, the abundance of our gardens, and our ability to share with family and friends.
Lesson: Be grateful to your customers. Smile at them. Share your harvest. Say thank you.
Bonus Lesson for Content Marketers:
At the end of every season, make careful notes on what you learned this year. What worked? What didn’t? What to do more of, what to do less of next season?
Every year turns out differently. What worked this year may not work next year. How can you keep your content diverse enough to yield a harvest even during uncertain times?
As gardeners, we’ll spend part of the winter dreaming about what to plant when the spring thaw comes. We’ll browse seeds and trees on websites and in catalogs, place our orders early, and imagine the new experiments we’ll undertake next spring.
With our actions of harvesting, preserving, trading, cleaning up, protecting and planning, we set the stage for a productive new year.
Content marketers who are good stewards of their topics and audiences can take time to learn how to get better yields.
One way is to attend conferences such as Content Marketing World 2016. That’s where I’ll be learning new things about content marketing this week!
Content marketers can learn a lot more 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.