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Content marketing doesn't have to be ardous and expensive, agile content marketing makes the content marketing challenge look a whole less daunting.

Content marketing is how the modern buyer comes to know you; you may not know it but your customers are becoming increasingly savvy about your industry and your competitors.

This is mainly due to content marketing, your content isn't just the copy that appears on your website, it can be found in a variety of guises i.e., social, blogs or meta titles and descriptions within search results.

Therefore the old marketing challenge remains, how do you stand out in an overcrowded marketplace; you demonstrate your expertise, you teach not preach.

Over 90% of respondents to a recent survey believe "content will become more important over the next 12 months” marketers are acknowledging the persuasive power held within generating high quality content and the effect this has on their customers. 

Traditional routes of advertising no longer work due to over saturation. According to Dave Trott:

Last year around £18.3 billion was spent on all forms of advertising and marketing in the UK. 89% of all advertising wasn’t noticed or remembered.”

Yes, 89% of advertising was a complete waste of time and money. So save your pennies and do something that’s worthwhile, invest in content marketing. It’s time to start selling your services differently; the focus is on what you sell not how you sell it, content marketing is the new branding (as well as the new SEO!). 

Content marketing can sound like a big task for small business but having recently been introduced to the agile approach to content marketing by Lauren Pope at London’s Content Marketing Show, agile content marketing doesn’t need to be taxing.

So what is agile?

Here's the Wikipedia definition: 

The word agile used in this sense comes from the world of software development, and is based on iterative and incremental development. Meaning, as with lean manufacturing you start with something simple, understand that it needs improvement, and quickly make those improvements based on feedback. 

Agile content marketing replaces long-term content marketing strategies with a new approach which puts emphasis on putting content out there, and then objectively and progressively adapting it over time.

While the first approach on paper is 'safer' and often favoured by "big organisations", in reality it all the planning in the world will provide no guarantee of breakthrough or ROI and therefore can turn into a  time consuming, expensive and disheartening activity.

The three-step guide to agile

1. Listen

The best content marketing strategies start with listening. Invest time and energy in monitoring your competitors, what content do they share and distribute via their social media channels, what topics are they blogging about and what areas are they investing most of their time talking about e.g. design, development, marketing?

You'll soon establish some 'hot' topics, as people jump on the bandwagon the quality of the content inevitably decreases. Take this golden opportunity to swim upstream and raise the bar, go slightly off topic, write a critical analysis, repurpose the content into an infographic.

The golden nugget lays in "speaking" less, because in doing so, when you do, people will be more inclined to listen. 

2. Take risks

Don’t wait until your content is perfect, you could be waiting a long time! At which point the content will no longer be current or relevant.

Don’t waste days or weeks working on content that you’re not sure your users want, test the water by posting a short post of about 500 words - if it proves popular, set time aside to undertake some more research and re-publish with more detailed insights on the topic.

It’s OK to release content knowing it’s likely to be a bit flawed. Unlike other forms of marketing online content can be quickly removed, edited or updated. Always remember that pressing ‘Publish’ is the start of the journey, not the end. 

3. Does it fulfil the brief?

The success of a piece of content should be determined by how well it fulfils the initial brief. What end result did you have in mind when commencing the content initially?

Try and be objective, if the content hasn't done what you originally planned, don't give up, go back to the drawing board and adjust your strategy until you fulfil the brief you started out with! Once you think you've nailed the brief, then you can start looking outwards to how well the content was received, it’s vital not to rely on opinions – you also need data.

Ensure you put campaign tracking on URL's so you can keep track of some key metrics, e.g. bounce rates, page views, shares, links, etc.. This data shouldn't be looked at once and then forgotten, it should be used to fuel and direct your next piece.

Also be wary of spending too much time on any single metric as this can be misleading e.g. a blog could get a thousand page views but achieve no social media shares. 

The result

An audience! The success of your content marketing should not be based solely on traffic and leads. The true attraction of content marketing is in building an audience.  An audience puts your business into a unique and untouched place.

The McKinsey consumer decision journey illustrates this best, every brand wants to ensure there consumers don’t ever re-enter the buying cycle but desire loyal customers who will skip the consideration phase and go straight to putting your product back in their shopping basket.

This loyalty comes from building an audience that trusts your voice.

 

I will end with a quote from George Bernard Shaw, remember “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” So, go on, hit that publish button!  

Are you going to give content marketing a go in 2013? What scares you most about the agile strategy? Have you tried the agile strategy, has it worked for you? Please let me know below...

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Published 8 January, 2013 by Holly Davis

Holly Davis is Digital Project Manager at White October and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow Holly on Twitter. 

1 more post from this author

Comments (4)

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Cloudspotting

Really appreciate the attitude in the post ' if at first you don't succeed, try and try again'. It takes the pressure off producing content in terms of trying to do it perfectly on the first attempt.

over 3 years ago

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Erik Boman

Great post - content marketing is clearly the way forward, and these tips shine an interesting light on how it can be done effectively.

I especially like the reinforcement of that "pressing ‘Publish’ is the start of the journey, not the end" - this cannot be emphasized enough!

Continual work on a website's structure, look and feel, and content is key to keep it relevant and usable.

over 3 years ago

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Keely Anne HIll

I concur with "Cloudspotting" in that the attitude in this post is refreshing. There is so much anxiety in publishing that I think we sometimes forget that thousands, nay, millions of people publish their thoughts, feeling and (albiet inadvisedly) their innermost secrets on social networking sites everyday. I think the pressure comes from wanting to uphold our organisation's corporate image, but arguably it is the organisations that come across as being the most 'human' that prosper and enjoy brand loyalty.

over 3 years ago

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Patina Marketing

I think your first point is a great one. Many small businesses, that are not big enough to have a marketing professional, should really take notice of what there competitors are doing online. Often times by looking at where the competitor are and what they are focusing on small business owners can find those "hot topics" that will help them attract customers or sales.

A good example of this, and one many small businesses fail to do anything about, is claiming their Google Places or Google +. If your competitor has an account and you don't or yours is uninviting or uninformative you need to do something about it. I am constantly amazed that some business owners fail to claim or enhance these free listings because they don't understand the value or are too afraid to make a mistake.

Great article.

over 3 years ago

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