What is Agile Marketing? A Brief Overview

by | Jan 6, 2020

Once upon a time, marketing strategies were conceived over long lunches and executed laboriously over a matter of months or years. Customer feedback was slow to trickle in, and adapting to such feedback could take just as long as the initial rollout.

Your needs in this digital world are different, and in order to be effective, marketing needs to be highly adaptive and quick to respond. Now that we have the tools, the data on what methods are (and aren’t) effective can almost be collected in real-time. But can your marketing team respond and adapt just as quickly? By using an agile marketing framework they can.

What is Agile Marketing?

Agile Marketing is an approach to marketing that works to quickly and effectively adapt to data and customer feedback. It’s a highly responsive and flexible way to operate and more easily reach the market. Many marketing teams believe that they are already operating in an agile marketing environment, when in fact they may only be loosely adhering to some agile practices.

The Agile Marketing Manifesto outlines the values of an agile marketing team, but we’ve synthesized the information just a bit for brevity.

Validated learning over opinions

You know what they say about opinions. Just because you are the most senior marketer in the room doesn’t mean your opinion matters more than the data. While data should never make the decisions for us, it should guide our decision-making process. We’re lucky to have more data available now than ever before so we can rely less on our guts and more on facts.

Collaboration is focused on the customer

Forget silos and organizational hierarchy. If you are making decisions based on which team or department outranks another, you are doing it wrong. Every decision should be made based on what’s best for the potential or current customer or user.

Adaptive marketing over big, one-time campaigns

Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket and spending all your time coming up with one perfect campaign, start small and move quickly so that you can collect feedback right away. If the first iteration isn’t quite right, you’ll be able to adjust accordingly. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes- it’s how you learn.

Agile marketing is all about the concept of:

Launch > Measure > Iterate

Imagine spending six months and $100,000 on campaign development only to find out it doesn’t resonate with your customer. Using an agile process could break that up into smaller experiments to find out what your customers respond to, saving you time and budget for more effective strategies to act on.

Learn your customer, don’t just guess

Learn about your customers instead of making predictions about them based on simplistic profiles. You’ll be able to create better campaigns when you’re open to learning things about your customers instead of doing a lot of guess-work on how they’re “supposed” to behave.

Take a step back and start interviewing your best customers and even prospects that decided to go with your competitor. You’ll be surprised by learning what you thought you knew.

Flexibility vs. Rigidity

It’s called agile marketing for a reason! Rigid planning leads to sticking points and an inability to adapt, so know that every plan is subject to change. President Eisenhower said, “Plans are worthless but planning is everything.” This is as true for marketing as it is for war.

Agile marketing is not an excuse to forego planning, but it does require you to be open to adapting to changes in the market instead of just following your plan for the plan’s sake.

How do you get started?

In order to implement an agile marketing framework for your organization, it’s important to use the correct tools to analyze and respond to customer feedback. According to McKinsey, this means having “sufficient data, analytics, and the right kind of marketing technology in place.”

For this endeavor to be maximally effective, you also need to have everyone on board and working as a team. This means you may need the support of leaders in all departments, from legal to IT. Being efficient and responding quickly means that you’re going to need the green light to move ahead and make changes, so ensuring that there is company-wide support for your marketing team’s efforts is key. If every single decision requires the approval of multiple stakeholders, you are setting your team up for failure to launch.

You’ll also need to have a clear idea of purpose when you shift to an agile marketing approach. There’s a difference between being flexible and being sloppy-moving quickly and effectively is important, but you should have already identified your goals and have a clear idea of how you are going to get there. Then as the data comes in and is analyzed you’ll be able to move swiftly to make any necessary changes.

If you’re thinking about adopting an agile approach but don’t know where to start or if you still have more questions, contact us to see how we can help.

A little about the author...

Stephen Brent May

Stephen is a lover of all things marketing – especially marketing technology and agile implementation for marketing teams. He regularly speaks on these topics and every presentation includes one slide featuring Beyoncé. He doesn't listen to podcasts.

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