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5 ways to be agile with content

Updated: Sep 26, 2020

What once was an approach to software (agility) is now an approach that can be scaled to almost every aspect of your business. At Jumpsuit, we’re all in on agility from the way we staff our teams to the way we create content. And our clients are loving it.

A brief history of agility

Once upon a time, people creating software realized that the old “waterfall” approach (discover, design, develop, test, deliver) wasn’t cutting it. Mostly because you had so much time and money invested in the process before you tested anything, that having to go back and do something over meant mega implications. So, one day, someone smart said, “Why don’t we sprint on one thing and quickly test, learn, and iterate before we move onto the next thing?” So, they did. And they called it the “agile” approach.

Okay, that makes sense for software, but how does that translate to content? Glad you asked.

Here are 5 easy ways you can pivot right now to adopt an agile approach to content.

1. Start at the beginning: the content strategy

If you’re like most companies, you update your content strategy annually. And, because there’s a million things on your plate, it can feel really nice to check that strategy off your list and only revisit when it’s time to defend something. “Sorry, good idea Creative Director, but that’s not on strategy.” or “Maybe, Media Person, we can revisit that new content pillar next year, but it’s not a part of our current strategy.”

Don’t get us wrong. Strategies exist for a reason. They help us lock eyes with a goal and set an approach on how we intend to get there. But if there’s one thing you take away from us, it’s this: with the pace of digital and how fast everything changes, you’ve got to find a way to leave a little bit of room for flexibility in your content planning.

Here are two things you can decide to change, today, to develop a more agile content strategy:

  • Consider quarterly content planning instead of annual content planning – or, at least give yourselves an opportunity, quarterly, to challenge any decisions you made many months ago to where the business, your competitors, and your audience is today.

  • Try the 80/20 rule – 80% of your decisions are concrete. Immovable. It’s a strategy for a reason, right? But maybe 20% of your strategy can be nimble, perhaps, designed intentionally to be tested.

2. Leave room for agility in your content calendar

You’re going to notice a theme, and it’s us pleading with you to not “set it and forget it.” Not the strategy. Not the content calendar.

Content calendars are great. They provide a single view for everyone involved in the content process to see what’s being made, where it’s going to live, when it’s going to be posted, on what channels and other information like that. There are also tons of automated marketing software solutions that will handle all of the logistics, posting, and analytics for you so you can sit back and relaaaa---

Gotcha. Here’s what you want to keep in mind when it comes to planning content.

You need agility because there are content opportunities you don’t want to miss – like, a trending hashtag that pertains to your product or industry. Successful brands spot these opportunities and leverage agility to be able to respond quickly to the window of opportunity.

You need agility because you don’t want to ever be tone deaf – like, do you remember how weird it felt to see an ad running (for almost anything) on #BlackoutTuesday? You’ve got to pay attention to this stuff. Things don’t always go as planned, and as a result, some of these brands who kept their regular ol’ ads running during #BlackoutTuesday were destroyed over night.

3. Find a creative team that loves data

There are Creative Directors who wear turtlenecks, smoke long cigarettes, and “poo poo” any idea that isn’t groundbreaking. There are writers who are only interested in being poetic, showing off their ability to wordsmith so profoundly that you stop scrolling, close your eyes, and when you open them, the world is a different color. Don’t work with these people. Okay, that was harsh. You can work with them but maybe in select circumstances like, you need a million dollar Super Bowl commercial or ad campaign.

For everything else, find a creative team who’s naturally inquisitive. “What would happen if we test this ad copy against this ad copy?” “Would our audience prefer this content as a 30 second video or a 60 second video?” “What if we tweaked the tone of voice to be more millennial? What kind of impact would that have on our time on site?”

The reason for this? There’s no room in agile models to be precious about anything. You have a hypothesis. You make something really fast. You test it. You learn. You pivot if needed or put the pedal to the metal. And quite frankly, it’s a lot more fun.

(See video below on how we created over 200 creative assets – videos, articles, ads, infographics, landing pages – in 2 months!)

4. Find a production team that is scalable

A lot of production companies got their start in television – Super Bowl commercials, TV spots… and when digital came around, they did what they knew how to do best: charge their clients a crap ton of money… for the same production quality… and same ol’ advertising tactics. Then, they’d slap it on digital, maybe take their :30 second spot and turn it into “strategic cut downs” for :15 and :6 ad buys.

Lean in closely. There’s nothing strategic about this.

Digital is its own beast. Just when we think people prefer high production value, we learn that they actually prefer shitty video quality shot by hand on an iPhone because it “feels more authentic.” There are things that you just know in your gut are true, but when the data comes back, the data doesn’t lie. Your gut... was wrong.

That is why we must be curious and not precious.

Oh, and here’s the other kicker about digital. Unlike TV, it’s not smart for brands to spend 250k on a single video anymore. What’s smart, is taking that 250k and creating as many things as possible to test. The algorithms will be your best friend (and so will social data). And all of a sudden, you can know what’s resonating FAST. Try taking that insight back to your turtleneck creative director and saying, “Here, no go make something big out of this.”

So, as you can imagine, traditional agencies and production companies who only know how to operate with huge crews and budgets are having a hard time creating content faster and more affordably.

5. Find a media team that is collaborative

Ads are something you can set and forget to. Just sit back and let the algorithm do all the work for you, right? Wrong. A good media team is extremely collaborative with both the brand and the creative team.

They’re having conversations beyond “What are our KPIs?” and asking things like, “What do we want to learn?” About our audience. About our messaging. About different content formats.

They’re thinking beyond marketing, bringing insights to your team that could inspire new innovation ideas for R&D… new talent potential for HR… new revenue streams for Operations.

This is the power of social data, and your media team is at the helm of game changing insights for your business. Find a team who understands this. In fact, we wrote a piece on this for Twitter, if you want to learn more.

Find this article helpful? Awesome, that was our goal.

If you’re looking for a partner who can help you be more agile, with content or in general, we’d love to meet you.

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