When you’re starting out with content marketing, it’s silly to expect that your audience will resonate to your message right away.

It’d be a lottery win to become instantly popular and build an audience effortlessly.

Instead of this unrealistic expectation, you need to approach your goal through a series of trial and error. You

  • put out content your audience might like,
  • register what works and do more of the same,
  • and ditch what doesn’t work.

I call this process finding Content Market Fit.

You may be familiar with the concept of Product Market Fit. It describes the point at which your customers like and buy your product, and all you need to do is to produce more of the same.

The same idea applies in content marketing.

Content Market Fit is the point at which your content formula has found its audience, and you just need to publish more of the same kind of content to keep growing your audience. From that point onward, you will get new subscribers to your content channel, and your existing audience will like you more and more.

In this video, I’m going into the details of content market fit:


Content Market Fit Case Study

One great example of finding content market fit is how Sam Conniff Allende created his first book Be More Pirate.

I’m telling the story in the video above, but in brief: Sam had an idea for a book, namely that pirates of the 18th century were comparable to modern iconoclasts like Malala and Elon Musk. They challenged an unjust system and created a rebellious counter-culture that pioneered many modern concepts like gender equality and a social safety net. 

That’s a good premise for a book.

But Sam didn’t start writing right away. Instead, he put his idea to the test by giving a series of talks about it. In June 2017, I happened to see one of these talks. When I heard his message, I really didn’t like it because I thought he was completely glossing over the criminal aspect of 18th century piracy. Sure, pirates were sexy rebels, but they also killed innocent people and stole their property. How can you hold them up as role models?

Sam Conniff Allende, grabbing some public space like a proper pirate would.

At the end of his talk, Sam invited his audience to send him their thoughts. I wrote him a long, slightly indignant email, making the point above. He defended himself saying that, in 1700, the times were rough and that everyone was killing and stealing, especially the ruling class. I responded he was engaging in moral relativism. If the rulers do bad things, you’re not automatically a hero if you also do bad things in the name of something good. Killing a tyrant is fine, but killing innocent people because the tyrant is also killing innocent people isn’t fine.

Sam took my points on board and incorporated them in the book, acknowledging the problem and finding a good way to live with it. Later, he told me how my criticism made that aspect of the book better. (Btw here is my review of the book, which includes an interview with Sam.)

That process of putting your message out there, getting feedback on it, and improving it is a perfect example of finding content market fit.


How Do Marketers Find Content Market Fit?

This particular example is about a book. What if you as a company don’t publish books, but want to grow your audience via a blog, podcast, or video channel?

Here’s how:

  1. Understand the concept of Content Market Fit. This will help you to not get discouraged when your initial content doesn’t resonate.
  2. Put out different types of content formats – blog posts, videos, podcasts etc, and see what format resonates the most with your audience.
  3. Iterate on the substance – Observe which topics are popular with your audience and do more of the same. Say you write about horseback riding, and people are lukewarm to your horse product reviews. But they really enjoy your equestrian travel stories and videos. Well – do more of the latter.


This discovery process can be fun

As you iterate on your proposition, you get to know your audience really well. And this level of deep understanding will benefit you on the business side. Because when you know your audience’s content needs, you will also learn what they are willing to pay you for. 

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

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