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How to 2x your output with content waterfalls


Yo! Welcome to the next episode of The Reeder, expert content strategy advice for growing your career and business every Saturday morning.

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I’ve hired freelance writers at all my marketing gigs. But I’m maniacal about quality, so it’s hard to find writers that know how to take ideas and turn them into high-converting content assets.

I worked with Damn Smart Marketing at Gong, then immediately brought them with me to Clari. They write stellar copy — emails, content assets, landing pages, and more — that drive engagement and impact. I consider them a part of the team. 

If you want damn smart copy that fuels your content strategy and helps hit your marketing goals, reach out to Donna at Damn Smart Marketing.

Right now I’m finishing up my 2024 content strategy deck for Clari.

It’s one of the best parts of my job as Head of Content. I love the process of tying creativity, marketing tactics, and planning to help grow the business and align with strategic business outcomes.

Or put more simply, build a unique brand and put up number$.

And while I’ve always prided myself on running a lean operation, I’m not immune to the pressure to produce more, with less resources and a small team. Big “do more with less” vibes. No complaints, that’s just the way things are right now.

And after a few recent chats with other marketers, I’m not alone by a mile.

But even if you’re not a B2B marketer, you’re probably looking for ways to increase your content output.

Which leads us to one of the major initiatives for my team in Q1: design and run a content waterfall strategy.

Content waterfalls are a production framework for scaling your output

Waterfalls are helpful because they:

  • Provide a clear framework for content production

  • Increase the ROI of your work

  • Help you scale, especially across channels

  • Give you clarity into your inputs and outputs

  • Remove the exhaustion caused by coming up with new ideas every day

Put simply, it’s a mechanism for producing more content from a single source.

Like taking a podcast and turning it into a blog, or taking a blog and choppin’ it up into five social posts.

How to design a content waterfall

Step 1: Identify and capture your inputs

Consider inputs as your Point A, or the top of the waterfall. You need to know what you have to work with.

There are two types of sources that feed your waterfall: polished and unpolished.

Polished content is the final product that is ready to be (or has already been) published.

These are typically longer form pieces that include, but are not limited to:

  • Podcasts

  • Blog posts

  • Webinars/keynotes

  • Ebooks

  • Newsletters

These are easier and faster to repurpose because you can copy/paste or reuse with minimal changes because you’re already working with a finished product.

Unpolished content is “raw” content that hasn't been refined yet and is not ready to be published as is. These are things like:

  • Customer advisory board conversations

  • Executive roundtable events

  • CEO town hall meetings

  • SME interviews

  • Internal strategy sessions

These are typically informal conversations that contain valuable ideas and provocative insights that just need some writing/editing/finessing to get them publication-ready.

Unpolished content is the most neglected but most impactful because they are candid in nature. You get the “real talk” that can lead to phenomenal insights. Don’t overlook them.

Step 2: Identify your outputs

This is your point B, or the bottom of your waterfall. It’s the new content that you want to produce.

There are two questions I like to ask here:

First, what do I need to fuel my content strategy?

When fueling your channel strategy, I usually work backward. Because once you know what you need, you can figure out how to splice and recycle.

Here’s where you take inventory across your channels and see the gaps in your content calendar that you need to fill. For example, I might look at my LinkedIn channel strategy and decide I need two “value posts.” Then I move to the second question…

Which inputs will support my outputs?

You don’t need to repurpose everything just because you can. I prioritize:

  • Unpolished content  (because I get the best inputs here)

  • Top-performing evergreen content

  • Expensive content, like commissioned analyst reports

You want to avoid adding content that flopped to your waterfall (unless you can tweak what you believed didn’t work and try again). Waterfalls are designed for volume, but never at the expense of quality.

Step 3: Map your content waterfall

Now it’s time to design out how your inputs will transform into your outputs.

When building a waterfall, you have two options for reusing content:

Repurposing is when you transfer it to a new format, like taking a podcast and turning it into a written blog.

Rule of thumb: if you said it, write it. If you wrote it, say it.

If you said it, write it. If you wrote it, say it.

Recycling is when you take parts of a piece of content to create something new, like taking a keynote and using it to inspire a LinkedIn post.

(FWIW, these terms are used interchangeably all the time, which is totally fine. I do it too. I’m defining them here so you can better “see” your options.)

Keep in mind that not everything needs to be repurposed just because it can.

You want to look for the “highlights” that have the strength to either serve as a stand alone piece or are substantial enough to grow into one.

You’re specifically scoping the best performing content to repurpose and pulling the highlights within them to recycle.

Here’s what to look for:

  • Stories

  • Insights (aka “aha!” moments)

  • Guides (aka how-to explanations)

  • Perspectives (the more contrarian, the better)

An example to inspire you

By now seeing a waterfall mapped out will get you to the finish line (or the plunge pool – the official name for the bottom of a waterfall).

Below is a general example to show you the “flow” of content. But you can adjust and customize for your content, style, channels, etc.

You can swipe this guilt-free. In fact, I hope you do.

Waterfall Example

This is how one long form asset, like a report, can easily fuel multiple channels. Think once, publish over and over.

As your get better and faster at repurposing, you'll find new opportunities to add or channels to launch.

Let’s wrap

I love this strategy because it genuinely makes my job easier — I take our best ideas and top performing content and use that to fuel my content engine.

Content is a value game, not a volume game. And waterfalls help me grow my team’s impact while avoiding burnout.

I hope this guide inspired you to create your own content waterfall. It's the easiest way to double your content ROI and scale your best ideas. 

Holler at you next Saturday,

PS: If you liked today’s post, you can help me grow this newsletter by forwarding it to one person with a quick “You’ll love this, totally worth subscribing.”

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