When determining your content marketing mix, you want to make sure that you have what we at Marketo call “Big Rock Content Pieces”. These are your big kahunas, the large thought leadership pieces that not only illustrate your unique point of view, but that you can also break up and use to create smaller content pieces. At Marketo, our “Big Rocks” are in the form of our Definitive Guides, which can be 80+ pages jam packed full of awesome content and tips. From our guides we develop a variety of other content pieces: cheat sheets, infographics, visual slide decks, webinars, podcasts etc, so we can extend the life of our guides for a long time.

But how do you create one of these crazy “Big Rock” pieces? Sounds like a lot of work. Well, it is! They take a lot of time and effort to write, edit, and design something that is truly unique. Here are 5 helpful tips to make sure your content behemoth is a huge success:

1. Always create an outline.

This might sound obvious, but when you are creating such a big piece of content, this is an absolute must. Clearly define what you want the flow of your document to be and determine what topics you want to tackle. Once you have your outline, it is always a good idea to socialize this to internal stakeholders and SMEs (subject matter experts) to make sure that you are covering all of the right topics. You might also want to add an abstract or an intro to provide more clarity on direction and tone. The more organized you are when you begin, the better you will feel later when you are trying to compile many different sections and connect all of the dots.

2. Meet with internal SMEs and/or assign sections.

You may or may not be an expert on the subject you are writing about. Most likely, you will know enough about the subject to write intelligently about it, but you probably don’t know the detailed ins and outs. As you want your piece to have depth, you need to leverage experts within your company to help you fill in the blanks. You can assign out sections to your various experts. This accomplishes two goals–it enables you to get detailed information on what you are writing about, and it gives your SMEs a chance to enhance their personal brand, as their name will be listed as an author. However, this is not always possible given time constraints and the other person’s bandwidth. In the case that he or she is too busy to write a section, schedule time for a brain dump. Have your expert tell you everything he or she knows about the topic, take detailed notes, and create the section yourself.

3. Make sure to add visual elements and worksheets.

You don’t want an 80 page document of just text. You want your asset to be more dynamic, so be sure to add pictures and photos to illustrate what you are talking about. Also make sure you break up the text with some checklists, worksheets, or templates. We do this a lot in our Definitive Guides. We give you some important information about how to do something, and then we give you a worksheet so you can apply what you have just learned to your own company.

4. Give yourself enough time to write, edit, and design.

When planning ahead for the big launch you want to give yourself enough time to write and design your document. We usually start writing 1-2 months in advance and then give 1 month for design turn around. For design and layout we work with a company in the UK and since each document is so large, it takes time for them to come up with a concept, lay the book out, and give us a couple of additional rounds of editing. Putting something together on this scale is difficult, so plan ahead!

5. Determine what assets you want to create from your larger piece.

You want to get as much life out of your content piece as possible, and a great way to extend value is to create smaller content pieces from your large “Big Rock” asset. At Marketo, we take our large content pieces and create cheat sheets, smaller whitepapers, visual slide decks, webinars, blog posts, infographics, and more. Having such a diverse asset list from a large content piece also enables you to promote different types of content via email and social media. For instance, you might find that a template has the highest conversion rates when promoted through email, and an infographic works best on your social media channels.

What other tips do you have for creating large content pieces? We would love to hear!