The Ready, Fire, Aim, Reload Strategy for Social Media Success

On Target

Content marketing works wonders, especially when compared or coupled with traditional advertising. Of course, I’ve been talking about tactics for creating compelling and persuasive content since early 2006 here at Copyblogger.

The missing elements that make content marketing truly work are strategy, observation, and rapid readjustment. And it’s exactly these elements that make social media such a dynamic and profitable environment for ambitious new media content producers.

In the world of software, agile development is an approach for software engineering that promotes development iterations throughout the life-cycle of the project. In other words, software is developed, released, and improved through regular adaptation to feedback and changing circumstances.

Let’s take a look at the mind and skill set that’s required to develop profitable new media assets with agile content development. It all comes down to understanding the social media feedback and iteration process.

The Dynamics of Social Media Content Strategy

Seth Godin characterizes the process this way:

Here’s what we used to do:

Create —> Edit —> Launch

Here’s what happens now:

Create —> Launch —> Edit —> Launch —> Repeat

Social media represents such a fantastic opportunity because it allows us to create and launch media properties directly to the public. But even more of a blessing is the direct and indirect feedback process that naturally happens in this space.

You put something out there, and the crowd will reveal the direction you should go. It’s not necessarily always the wisdom of the crowd, but rather the desires and objections of the crowd that guide you.

Sell Access, Not Products

Likewise, in Teaching Sells, we advocate agile content development for online training programs. You have a strategy and curriculum in place, but you allow for improvisational flexibility that improves the quality of the content and enhances the learning experience.

Viewed in this context, it makes much more sense to sell access to knowledge rather than information products. This leads to more profits through recurring subscriptions and related sales, and you get the additional benefit of getting paid to create the content.

Thinking you’ve got it right on your own and sticking to it is an arrogance the crowd will not forgive. You’re an indispensable part of the equation, but so is the audience.

The Fallacy of Getting it Right the First Time

Top copywriter Michael Masterson eloquently argues that this iterative approach works for any type of business in his new book, Ready Fire Aim. Many of you are familiar with Masterson as the lead author of the AWAI Accelerated Course for Six-Figure Copywriting, but he’s also a killer and a poet since he uses his copywriting skills to launch and build businesses.

Masterson says a business will never devise an ideal selling strategy until the company launches and starts trying to sell. So, prepare carefully, but then simply launch and see what works. Once you hit that sweet spot between your offer and what the crowd wants, then it’s time to accelerate the growth of the company with additional products or services.

So, it looks like everyone agrees:

Create —> Launch —> Edit —> Launch —> Repeat

The editing phase represents your go-forward strategy for content, product development and promotions. In essence, a new media property is a constantly evolving platform that stays tuned to the audience or becomes irrelevant.

Perpetual Launches with New Media Platforms

As I’ve mentioned before, the exact same principles apply to these huge Internet marketing product launches you keep seeing. They’re using a pre-launch and launch sequence to gauge response, identify potential objections, and proactively eliminate those objections on the fly. The goal is for the final sales page to be a mere formality, because the prospect has already decided to buy and wants to make sure he gets in.

The difference in my approach is that I’m also building an asset with the platform. The new media property itself has value that’s independent of any particular launch or promotion, therefore increasing the value of the overall enterprise.

Take a look at this product launch blueprint video from Jeff Walker (I cheated and linked directly to the video, so you don’t have to opt-in). As Jeff illustrates, these launch principles apply to any niche, and can be used to build entire businesses, not just to launch products.

Every Company is a Media Company

While it’s true that anyone with social media skills can become a successful new media owner or producer, it’s existing small businesses that need a mind shift. Rather than starting a blog to promote your business, you should be creating new media assets that transform your business into something bigger.

Here are some questions for those pursuing a business blogging strategy:

  • How do we create an online marketing platform that delivers independent value to visitors?
  • How can that platform grow our existing business model?
  • How can that platform create diverse revenue streams?

When advertising gives way to authoritative content, and that content tends to be found on web sites that offer independent value, the answer is clear. Successful companies of any stripe must view themselves as media companies in order to effectively market online.

About the Author: Brian Clark is the founding editor of Copyblogger, and co-founder of Teaching Sells.

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  1. I think this is right on, and as time goes on it’s going to become the only way to create any kind of project that depends on any kind of content.

    It used to be that people who made books, articles, moving pictures, music, etc. had very limited ways to distribute those things (and distributing them was difficult and expensive), so the “edit first” model was natural and necessary.

    The social media model makes the whole thing more evolutionary. You put your individual content into the great stream of stuff and see if it lives or dies–and if it lives, how it evolves.

  2. Those questions at the end are key. Designing a product that’s independently useful while still making it give back value to the current project, and then having it be useful to future projects is the trick. The “swivel” effect of your media cannons.

    But then, you know that. : )

  3. So, when speaking of social media, are we talking about blogs, videos on blogs, and just plain old videos?

    Since relaunches are based upon feedback, blogs that allow comments seem like a good way to get the feedback and give the people what they want.

    At some point the content has to be finalized though, NO?



  4. At some point the content has to be finalized though, NO?

    Hi Daniel. I’m referring to changing content strategies, not editing past content. But the answer to even that is no, it doesn’t necessarily have to be finalized.

    As far as social media, I’m talking about blogs or sites built on a blog CMS, plus the reaction to content you get from subscribers, the reaction you get from social media news sites and social networking, plus the many avenues that you can solicit direct feedback by simply asking people what they want.

  5. Hi Brian,

    I just wrote an article on the same thing a few weeks back.

    Everyone should add a new title to their resume- Editor.

  6. Ok, I think I can relate, since anyone who puts out an infoproduct should at the very least keep it current, so no content ever gets finalized.

    I think a good content blog like this one is a good example of marketing as content.



  7. Seth Godin refers to this as Layering. This is a very powerful concept- I explain its power at success making machine.

  8. Masterson says a business will never devise an ideal selling strategy until the company launches and starts trying to sell. So, prepare carefully, but then simply launch and see what works. Once you hit that sweet spot between your offer and what the crowd wants, then it’s time to accelerate the growth of the company with additional products or services.

    It’s amazing how frequently that simple strategy keeps appearing. I know we have gone through the launch, get feedback, adjust, launch, repeat process a number of times. While I couldn’t agree more with Masterson, it’s important to really keep track of and analyze what works. If not, its easy to fall into the trap of working off of invalid assumptions!

  9. That’s a fair point. It’s very easy, in the chaos and the energy that this stuff generates–to let measurement fall by the wayside. V. bad idea.

  10. Articles like these are why copyblogger is rated #2 on the Ad Age Power 150 top blogs (Seth’s is #1). Kudos, Brian!

  11. Insightful, informative post, Brian.
    Though I wish you’d stop telling “hope” marketers what we’re doing. One of these days they might get it.:)

  12. Brian this is a great post. I think that planning plays a critical part in any strategy but working on the execution through the launch helps dial in the best results.

  13. @Sean, don’t stress, never gonna happen. :)

  14. Hi Brian,

    Most of us are still in the print-based mindset. You “finalize” the copy, and send it to the printers, and it is put down on paper forever. But in the cyberworld, you are right: it doesn’t have to be that way. Content can be an ever-changing thing, a truly “living document”. You already see this on things like Wikipedia.

    However, there are downsides as well. Today, we can go back to old books and find out what people were thinking in the 1950s, the 1850s, the 1750s, etc. But what happens in a society where the “social record” is an ever-changing thing? We know longer use Walkmans, so we simply CTRL+F Walkmans and replace with iPods. Soon, there will be no records of Walkmans at all.

    This is extreme, and meant only for effect. But you see where I’m going here.

    Over the years, more and more of George Orwell’s “1984” seems to be coming to pass. The “double-plus good” invasion of text messaging using reduced vocabulary and spelling, the “Ministry of War” changing to the “Ministry of Defence”, cameras everywhere tracking our movements… And now the rewriting of what has gone before.

    Now in terms of marketing, agile content is a very useful thing. My fear is that everything produced in the near future will be agile content, will no real record left behind.

    Great post — obviously thought-provoking!


  15. Seriously Brian, I would have thought Jeff and his program was all hype, except you’ve mentioned him a number of times now.

    My head keeps telling me PLF is going to be worth the money, but, my heart fears it would be money burned.

  16. I love that last point “Every company is a media company”.

    I think it relates back to the entire mission statement of that company, you need to turn your company into a movement that you can contribute to and remain at the forefront of.

    The difference being that a movement is not solely your movement, it’s about changing/fixing something in the world. There’s space enough for more companies and individuals to do it. This would also focus the content your company produces.

  17. Brian this is a great post. I think that planning plays a critical part in any strategy but working on the execution through the launch helps dial in the best results.

  18. That’s a fair point.

  19. Excellent content here– I really think that, yes, while mistakes (what old-school companies are afraid of) might become more public, the change to redeem, and share in, the experience of stellar content in the social media community is nothing short of fantastic.

    We are becoming less aware of our individual faults and at the same time, becoming hyper-aware of the wisdom, and genius of crowds.

    Two heads are better than one. And 200,000 heads are better than one :)

  20. I mean, “the chance to redeem, not change”.