What do business bloggers have in common with software developers? Well, in many cases, both can benefit immensely from the agile methodology. Agile was designed specifically for software teams working on large projects. In order to improve the final product and reduce waste, the project is broken down into smaller components and the team works in “agile sprints” towards smaller goals.
This approach ensures the organization is ready to pivot if necessary, and can even improve morale by setting team members up to celebrate small wins and accomplishments made along the way.
Unless your content team’s been tasked with writing a full-on novel, there’s a good chance you won’t be dealing with any projects that have a scope similar to what many software teams encounter on a regular basis. However, agile marketing is perfectly designed to help your organization shift your thinking from individual pieces of content to comprehensive campaigns. Even more importantly, the Agile methodology is inherently results-driven - if your latest idea falls flat, working within this framework will allow you to respond more quickly to your blog marketing metrics.
For a high-level overview of the Agile methodology, we recommend checking out What is Agile Marketing?
Whether you’re on a content marketing team of two or twenty, an agile approach could yield better results. Here are some practical ways to implement it at your organization:
1. Rethink Your Structure
Traditional management concepts of command, control, and neatly defined roles don’t really jive with agile content marketing. Agile practices are about breaking down barriers and traditional corporate thinking in order to achieve remarkable results. In the software realm, the developers may meet with clients or business leaders in the planning stages to have a more comprehensive view of what they’re about to do. You can implement this framework at your organization, by ensuring that your content writers have full access to clients or management in order to get the most exposure and insight possible.
2. Test Early and Often
While your content marketing probably doesn’t need a formal testing process like a business application, you can apply the principle of “testing early and often”. In agile content marketing, this means checking metrics frequently. Not just once a month when you’re developing your next content calendar. Make data-driven decisions continously, as a part of your daily routine. You can only be better because of it.
3. Think in Terms of 80/20
We’ve all heard the saying that 80% of results come from 20% of your effort. In the world of software, this phenomenon is especially true - the average program user may only engage with 5-20% of product features! Agile content marketing means knowing where to focus your effort in order to see the best results. Often, your blog headlines, opening paragraphs, and calls-to-action will have the largest affect on the success of your content.
To learn more about how you can accomplish more with less energy, check out Top Writing Tips to Infuse Your Blog With Stickiness.
4. Deliver Often
Frequent delivery of small increments is at the core of the agile methodology. This concept rings true in agile content marketing on multiple levels. You probably won’t see the results you wish for if you let your blog go dark for weeks while you slave away at a perfect piece of content. Your audience is your customer, so deliver something of value often.
5. Document Well
Good documentation doesn’t always mean copious notes. In fact, in an agency setting, if you’re developing a 13-page internal document to describe what you’re trying for in a 600-word blog article, you’re probably working too hard. Agile content marketing means capturing the right information in a creative way, typically on a whiteboard so the entire team can contribute to the concepts. Your documentation should be thorough, but it shouldn’t be too bulky.
6. Strive for a “Shippable” State
We’re all guilty of poor time-management practices at one point or another. Agile content marketing practices are all about reducing waste, especially as it relates to your time. One concept that can revolutionize your results is the concept of striving for a “shippable” product before you move onto anything new. This means your blog, eBook or whitepaper should be ready for your editor or final publication before you start another project. We’re not saying you’ll never be slammed with a newsjacking assignment or other hot job, but block your time to focus optimally whenever it’s practical.
7. Sign Up for Tasks
In agile content marketing and software development environments, employee roles can be incredibly dynamic. One key principle is the idea of “signing up for tasks”. Instead of having a set project manager and editor, team members may choose to take on new and challenging assignments during content calendar development or in daily meetings. The approach isn’t for everyone, but it could be one way to infuse your content team with a newfound passion.
8. Adopt a Sustainable Pace
Long ago, manufacturing experts found that periods of intense work and long hours lead to decreased productivity and burnout among employees. We know every organization has busy seasons and key events that require long hours from employees. However, if your employees are putting in an average of 50 hours each week, that’s no way to practice agile content marketing or retain your staff. Plan ahead, and ensure that everyone is working at a sustainable pace that’s conducive to creativity and happiness.
9. Implement Collective Ownership
Agile content marketing is synonymous with a closely-knit team environment. To further this concept, you could choose to implement “collective ownership (CO)” the idea that every individual’s input is valued. In a CO structure, each team member also has the ability to modify content or concepts. It’s challenging to put-in-place, but self-motivated staff can thrive in this kind of environment.
Agile content marketing is an incredibly complex practice, but nearly every organization can benefit from a more metrics-driven work, improved teamwork, and increased accountability. While they may seem controversial at first glance, their success in the development world indicates that they’re certainly worth considering. There’s a good chance that these time-tested practices could revolutionize the way you work.
Has your marketing team adopted any agile content marketing practices? How have they changed your culture and results?