4 Ways to Rescue Interesting Content from the Tar Pit

Avoiding the content marketing tar pit

Somewhere in your marketing communications tar pit there is interesting content. Your readers can find it more easily if you rescue it.

Around 1900, a few men standing near the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California, realized that there were animal bones in the tar.

“What a find!” exclaimed the first. “We could do research for decades on the fossils in this tar. It’s an archeological treasure.”

“Yes,” said the second, “but first we need to figure out how to get that treasure out of the tar.”

How content gets bogged down in the tar pit

As a marketing manager, what do you do when you inherit a tar pit, like a mixture of new, old, obsolete, fresh, interesting and dull content?

When your company acquires another company, you usually need to bring the acquired marketing content into alignment with your own. Maybe you get a new job in a company that has been desperately trying to tell its story, but it has never managed to do it in an interesting way. Or perhaps you wake up one day and realize that you’ve been breathing your own exhaust for too long, and it’s time for your content to focus on your ideal reader instead.

Four ways to get your interesting content treasure out of the tar pit

  1. Break up walls of text. Can you even bear to read your own content anymore? Is it just a forbidding collection of long sentences and paragraphs? Can you use subheadings and callout boxes to break up those solid pages of text that seem to go on forever? Smaller pieces of valuable content will tell your story without snowing your reader under.
  2. Cover all points in the sales funnel. Not every prospect is ready to buy. Content that trumpets the virtues of your products is too far down the funnel for early-stage prospects who are still trying to understand the problem they have. Tune your content so that it suits prospects at three different levels: Awareness, Consideration and Decision.
  3. Rewrite your text to address customer needs. Visitors don’t want to know how many transistors you can pack onto a single chip. They want to know how all those transistors can help them get their work done better, cheaper and faster. It’s easy for your content to fall into this tar pit, but you can rescue it by changing “chicken pieces fried and battered at 145 degrees” to “finger-lickin’ good.”
  4. Bucket the text better. Are you sure that your ideal readers can find your content? If your entire website is a tar pit, and the white papers, webinars, case studies and product briefs are all mixed together, it becomes difficult to locate your story, let alone tell it. Rearrange the text into buckets according to what visitors want to see, instead of what the writers wanted to describe. Look at the Resources section of almost any tech website for an example.

The treasures are in the tar pit. You just need to find them. Eventually, you can create content that never gets trapped there in the first place.

photo credit: David Berkowitz


Author: John White

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a content marketing writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Content Marketing Writer.”