I’ll admit it: I spent so much time this past year creating content that I didn’t make enough time to read. And reading is important when you’re a content creator. After all …
It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it. – Oscar Wilde
I’m determined to change, and I started by making time to read The Business Case for Agile Content Marketing by Copyblogger’s Brian Clark.
What exactly is agile content?
It’s the type of content that responds and adapts to the needs of your audience. It’s what is taking the place of traditional advertising for businesses large and small.
It’s the kind of content we should all be creating.
Here’s my take on Brian’s advice, but don’t stop with this post. Grab the full report: The Business Case for Agile Content Marketing.
Agile content starts with research
You have to start somewhere. At first, your content ideas will be based on guesses.
You’ll have better luck if you make those very educated guesses. And the way to do that is to spend some time and energy on market research. Use your research to figure out:
- Who you want to reach
- What challenges they have
- What their deeply-felt desires are
- How they’re currently meeting those challenges and fulfilling those desires
When you have an idea about all of the above, you can plan your content to meet these needs. But don’t stop there. It’s just getting interesting at this point.
Move right along to …
Shipping your content
Here’s the tough part.
You aren’t really executing on an agile content marketing strategy until you put it out into the world and start listening to feedback.
This is the reference to staying sane in my headline. It’s cold-sweat-inducing, nerve-wracking, and scary at first. But don’t worry, it gets much easier over time.
And it’s 100% necessary. After all, how will you know if your ideal customer is digging what you write if you don’t put it out there and see what happens?
Here’s a little secret: Those people you admire who have huge audiences who hang on their every word? They have a lot more to worry about than you do.
Let’s say you and a few friends decide to start a band. You start out by playing your living room, in front of a few more friends, and see what they enjoy.
You hone your set of songs, and you move up to playing at the bar down the street. You see what that audience likes, and keep working on new songs and styles based on what they respond to.
Eventually, you’re invited to perform at a college campus. Years later, (let’s pretend for the sake of this analogy) you’re playing for an entire stadium of fans.
It’s okay to start out writing for a small group. With fewer people watching, you can feel free to experiment and see what works. The stakes aren’t so high.
Embrace the process. Don’t take your content too seriously. Watch, listen, and move on to the next step.
Optimize based on feedback
Feedback comes in many forms. It can be comments, social media shares, or email open rates.
It could be people who attend your webinar, ticket buyers to your live event, or sales of your information product.
See what content your audience responds to, and build your business around it.
As Brian mentions, these first three stages are ongoing. You’ll find yourself constantly discovering new details about what your audience wants.
As new people join your audience, the needs you’re meeting will change. Welcome this change as it comes, and continue to make your best educated guesses about what they want, put it out there, and optimize based on your results.
Amplify your reach through connection
Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum.
If you really want to grow your audience, you have to be an advocate for your content. You have to be its champion.
Get out there and spread the word. Connect with others who can help send people to your pages.
Look for ways to ally yourself with people who have already developed an audience similar to the one you aspire to serve. Don’t be afraid to send an email sharing your latest post, asking if your connection’s audience might be interested in seeing it.
And when you can, attend events, and connect in person, too, because there’s nothing better than connecting face-to-face.
Spiral upward with repeat performances
The technique outlined here really starts to work when you commit to doing it over the long haul.
Research. Release. Optimize. Connect. And then, repeat.
Just like any promotional effort you put together for your business, agile content works best when it’s ongoing and consistent.
This is just a taste. If you want to see how all the parts work together, get the whole story right here.
What part of this process do you get stuck on? What have you done that’s worked really well? I’d love to hear about it in the comments …