In a recent WittyParrot article, The Death of Marketing Collateral as we Knew it we outlined the problems with the old document-based collateral model and the need for structured, reusable, content components.

The closing sentences in the article read, “I have seen the future of collateral. New platforms and methods are required to create, manage, maintain, and deploy componentized content, and it’s already here.”

Jerilynne Knight (MamaRed) has pioneered single sourcing and content reuse concepts and to kick-off a series of articles on creating reusable content components I asked her for an opinion on the barriers to creating reusable content.

1. Thought Process in General

We are accustomed to thinking in documents and templates, portals and file management repositories.

Reusable content is a new paradigm and not well understood.

Unless people are aware of the value of reusing content components they are unlikely to embrace it.
In general I would say there is fear of the unknown and education is an uphill battle.

2. People Don’t Get It, 

There are a few experts around who have written on this topic, but they speak in a language that is foreign to all but the content creation cognoscenti. 

The concept of ad-hoc creation of personally reusable content and sharing it with colleagues is foreign to these experts who are interested in and focused on creating enterprise content for reuse on any device.

3. The Experts are Drowning

We all go to a lot of training and too often the call to action on coming away from such an event is, “just create your audio, video, or get started on begin writing your book tomorrow.”

We need baby steps and easy to use, affordable tools, plus coaching and training to gain momentum.

4. Training in the Thinking Process

MamaRed and I have both run training sessions for clients trying to capture their value proposition.  

When after the morning coffee break on the first day, there are still blank stares around the room… we know we have to change how we communicate, because while we are experts in the concepts we convey, we are not being understood.

Content reuse concepts are new when applied to information management, but familiar in other aspects of our lives. The trick in creating understanding is in connecting novel concepts with simple, well-understood concepts.

MamaRed is adept in using simple metaphors “cooking and kitchens” for example.

People do understand salt in a container, sugar in another container, flour in a bag , yeast in a sachet and water in a jug and that these are ingredients (components) required to make bread (document).

They also know that when the bread mix comes in a clear in a clear plastic bag (document) it will be virtually impossible to separate the ingredients, (components).

5. Lack of a Convenient Repository

The ability to quickly and conveniently store and recall content components has been hampered by the lack of available tools. Existing tools consist of file managers, portals, documents and spreadsheets, or high-end repositories, with little available outside the expert market.

6. Lack of Standards

Even with a repository, what standards should be adopted?

The F500 “expert” market talks about DITA and XML, but this of no interest to the product marketing manager struggling with an under performing sales organization who cannot get their message across, or a content developer looking to save and reuse a nicely developed set of market positioning statements.

We need standards that make sense for the rest of us that create content and wish to reuse text and graphics. These standards will make it easy to find, share and reuse relevant information. 

7. A Mindset is Required

Creating reusable content in a small or medium sized business or F100 company requires a major commitment, because the benefits of componentization come with time, adoption, reuse and feedback.

Project sponsors and decision makers must understand that there is a front-load to any messaging project and that value comes over time through a legacy of reusable content.

If you are interested in learning more about the WittyParrot platform to capture, structure and share your value message across the enterprise via a drag and drop widget to any application, you might find the WittyParrot Sales and Marketing Alignment eBook of value.

9 thoughts on “7-barriers-for-businesses-to-creating-reusable-content

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