If At First You Don’t Succeed, Repurpose: 3 Ways to Save Your Business’ Resources

Is there anything worse than spending time and money developing a product just to see it fail? I think not.

But before you throw up your hands and toss out your investment, take a deep breath. Is everything truly lost?

Someone must’ve thought that promotion or content was a good idea; otherwise you never would’ve invested resources in the project. Chances are that something is still salvageable and can be repurposed.

1. Repurpose your content.

We’ve all been there: we’ve written a brilliant blog post or developed a SlideShare presentation, posted it, and then…nothing. The social shares never came; the comments never came.

newsies on broadway

Let us seize the day! And 8 Tony Award nominations!

Before forgetting about the content and moving on, think about how you can repackage your content in another medium. Can you reuse your SlideShare presentation in a webinar? Can you bundle some blog posts into an e-book or white paper? Maybe you can pull some important, digestible points from old blog posts and tweet them.

Real Life Example: In 1992, Disney released a movie musical called Newsies. The movie bombed at the box office, but slowly gained a cult following over the next twenty years. With the colorful characters and snappy musical numbers, there had to be a way to repackage this movie to reach a bigger audience.

In March 2012, Newsies: The Musical opened on Broadway. It was instantly labeled a family-friendly hit and a critical darling. The show brings in packed theaters every night and was recently nominated for 8 Tony Awards.

Good thing Disney didn’t bail on the project, huh?

2. Repurpose your products and services.

So you’ve come up with a product that’s best invention since sliced bread…

…but another company beat you to the market.

If you can’t carve out your own portion of the market, then take components from your product and translate them to a new service. Maybe some of your software can be adapted; perhaps your hardware can hold a different product.

Real Life Example: Remember how Microsoft tried to claim a part of the mp3 player market with Zune? The Zune never quite caught on like the iPod. In fact, I would say that it failed pretty spectacularly.

But Microsoft didn’t just toss out the Zune.

Instead, they used their Zune software and ecosystem as the cornerstone media player for all of their products. Now all Xbox consoles and Windows phones use Zune for their movie and music needs and the software is available for PCs.

3. Repurpose your promotional products.

It’s likely that at one point you’ll find yourself with leftover promotional items. Whether you have too many t-shirts lingering from your company picnic or a giant stack of tote bags from a rained-out county fair, those promo products can still help you expand you brand.

acrylic straw tumbler at quality logo products

Nobody is going to be mad if it says “Company Picnic 2010” on it.

Make up gift bags for your interviewees, set them out at the front of your store, or offer them as prizes at your next office team building activity or competition.

Real Life Example: As we are a promotional products company, it’s only natural that Quality Logo Products has tons of logo items to pass out. We ordered ours to use at tradeshows, give to clients, and run promotions…but we still have a lot left over.

So we take advantage of our surplus by sending QLP swag packs to our awesome interviewees and some of our blogger friends. We surprised participants of our December Advent Calendar Facebook contest with extra QLP branded items.

So before you toss an idea, product, or scrap of content, make sure there’s nothing that you can do with it first. Waste not, want not, right?

Have you repurposed any sort of content or product before? Any other suggestions to help companies to hang on to their resources?


Mandy Kilinskis

Mandy is proud to be a part of QLP’s content team. A self-professed nerd, her interests include video games, sitcoms, superhero movies, iPods and iPhones but never Macs, and shockingly, writing. Her claims to fame are: owning over forty pairs of Chuck Taylor All Stars, offering spot-on coffee advice, and knowing an unbelievable amount of Disney Princess facts. You can connect with Mandy on


  1. Jeff Porretto

    What a great topic! It seems every effort (whether succesfull or not) has a “well, now what do we do with [blank]?” moment. For our industry it seems to be the piles of promo products that are left over. But as you pointed out, a little creativity goes a long way into turning something that looked to have little or no residual value into a real brand booster!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Precisely! It is far better to get your products into other people’s hands instead of having them rot away in a physical or virtual landfill! 🙂

  2. Jaimie Smith

    This was a really cool topic!!
    That is kind of what I do with my blog topics I think of. If I think of one that I think is super cool, when I go to write it, it may not come out as great, or I just may not be able to write it at all. But I will keep the idea written down in hopes that one day I can write a nice blog about it.
    Great job on this post, Mandy!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      That’s a really great practice, Jaimie! You never know when you can recycle an old idea into a new one!

      That’s actually how this blog started. I was going to write about Disney recycling Newsies into a musical, but I couldn’t write enough to merit an entire post. So after working on some other ideas, I was able to recycle it into this post! 🙂

  3. Rachel

    I like that you mention giving away extra promo products in a Facebook contest — seems to me that unused promo items can be great social media giveaways. Lots of cool ideas here! Awesome post, Mandy. 🙂

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I know that Yoplait gave out a lot of promo items via Twitter to Community fans that reached out to them. I don’t know if they had some left over or just a stockpile of them, but everyone really appreciated them and took pictures. Sounds like a winning move for Yoplait!

  4. Jen

    Love this post Mandy, very creative! I like the different examples you gave, especially the QLP swag examples. I can guarantee business run into this same problem more often than not, and it’s nice that you gave ideas on how to reuse their promos.

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Jill’s post that I linked to has even more examples! And I’m sure if we all put our heads together, we could come up with some more, too. 🙂

  5. Jill Tooley

    Great job mentioning Zune! I never would have thought to use that as an example. Their Xbox app was pretty cool until they switched something over and disabled the music videos I paid cash money for (grrr!), but I still use it to look at movie trailers and watch TV shows I’ve purchased. However, I never would have touched their mp3 player since I’ve been on the iPod bandwagon since 2006. By repurposing their product, they’ve exposed a new audience to their offerings!

    Also, that Advent Calendar promo was a blast. I love giving people free stuff! 🙂

    Fab post, Mandy! Très Bien!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      Merci, Jill!

      I’m glad that Microsoft didn’t lose ALL of their money from developing the Zune. I’m sure that they saw a big loss, but at least it wasn’t all for naught. I’m glad that even iPod lovers can get some use out of it!

      It was cool being able to send all of our winners those promo items. I’m sure the participants liked the extra swag, too! 🙂

  6. Amy Swanson

    Wow, this was a very cool and informative post Mandy! I never knew ‘Newsies’ was a movie that bombed at the box office, I just knew about the play in New York. Zune’s recycling efforts were also new to me! Just proves that you shouldn’t give up on something, you never know when it may come in handy 😉

    Great job!

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I grew up watching a copy of “Newsies” that my parents recorded on a VHS and it was one of the first DVDs that I ever purchased. It’s a fun watch. It stars a young Christian Bale that was clearly too cool to go to dance rehearsals.

      I didn’t know that Zune still existed until a random Google search a few weeks ago. As I told Jill, I’m glad that they were able to find a use for it!

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