Dodge the buzzwords and improve your content marketing with Lean Start-Up
Like many of the best ideas, Lean Start-Up is remarkably simple. The methodology was created to help new tech companies work faster with less waste. It quickly moved from latest trend to mainstream. From there it spread into non-tech companies. Why? Because it works.
The key concept is to minimise wasted time and effort. Don’t create something until you know that it is actually needed. And when you do create something, do the minimum possible to test that you are right. Then check to see if your market likes the thing you’ve built. If so, carry on with the next incremental stage, then test again. If not, change and test again.
This is the idea of Minimal Viable Product (MVP). Do the least you can to test your assumption and discover if there’s a demand for your product. Then iterate: do a little bit more based on the feedback on your MVP. Create a new MVP. If things don’t get the way you planned then think again. Go a different route. Pivot.
MVP. Iterate. Pivot. These are the buzzwords of Lean Start-Up and have undoubtedly been overused and abused in many areas of business, including content marketing. Yet the concepts behind them can still be incredibly valuable when creating strategies and campaigns.
Don’t assume you’re on brief
How often you have ended up with content that isn’t what you were after. Something has gone wrong between briefing and delivery. It is easily done, but by adopting a MVP approach can be largely avoided. Draft designs are standard in the creative world – and these are no more nor less than MVPs. Adopting the concept for written text makes a huge amount of sense too.
Assessing sample paragraphs and article structures allow changes in tone and direction to be made at the outset. The alternative is to unpick a finished product that’s not quite right and try and fix it. The results are never good and end up taking more time than fine-tuning in the initial phase.
Get one individual piece of content right and you can then use that as a MVP to test your market assumptions. You’re creating this content because you think there is a demand for it and that you can reach the audience. Why not start small and test those beliefs. If you don’t get the results you were expecting then make some changes and try again. Iterate. And if things still aren’t working then adopt a different approach. Pivot.
We are all guilty of building strategies on assumptions that we cannot be sure of. Lean Start-Up Methodology can prevent that by asking us to test our assumptions at every stage and suggesting ways to do so. And it works on the micro scale as well as the macro.
Does it all sound like screamingly obvious common sense? I agree. That’s why it’s so clever. And if you try this approach and it doesn’t work for you, at least you’ll have only expended the minimal viable effort.
Lean Start-Up is the brainchild of Eric Ries. You can learn more about it here.