It seems that ever since the term ‘agile marketing’ began to be bandied about a decade ago, debate has raged over whether it should or should not be adopted in favour of strategic marketing. But the two are not mutually exclusive. Modern marketing requires an agile approach aligned with a strategic overview. Agile and strategic marketing can and should work in harmony. And those marketing teams who have recognised this are reaping the rewards while others continue to debate.
What is agile marketing?
Agile marketing is a flexible approach to marketing that reflects the emergence of the digital transformation and change in customer expectations in recent years.
Its strength lies in collaboration and giving creative marketers freedom to experiment within a structured working environment. This is very much a team game – one that rejects silos but enhances possibilities and accountability.
Agile marketing teams work in short bursts known as ‘sprints’. Each sprint typically lasts between one week and one month with a focus on producing high volumes of output and assessing it as you go.
Throughout the sprint, a meeting is held every morning lasting no more than 15 minutes. This is a quick summary of what each person did yesterday, what they plan to do today, and any obstacles that might affect the days’ work (e.g. a colleague is off sick, computers are down etc). Any issues are quickly addressed as a team with focus squarely on producing the volume of output that was set out at the beginning of the sprint.
This approach is very different from traditional strategy marketing that was a far longer process that only evaluated results after the event.
At the time, this process was necessary and went something like this:
Step 1: Planning phase
- Identify your business purpose
- Decide what you want your marketing plan to achieve
Step 2: Analysis phase
- Conduct market research
- Define your place in the industry
- Identify your target market
- Analyse your competitors
Step 3: Development phase
- Decide on your marketing strategy
- Determine your marketing mix
Step 4: Implementation phase
- Create your campaign
- Launch it
Step 5: Analysis phase
- Assess the results of your marketing campaign
- Make notes
- Implement what you have learned into future marketing efforts
Agile marketing differs from this approach in that it combines phases 3, 4 and 5. This is made possible by the digital transformation and the speed with which content can be created, launched and analysed.
Traditionally, marketing campaigns needed to be thoroughly planned before the implementation phase because leaflets, posters, TV and radio ads etc had to be budgeted for from the outset. Likewise, it was only after the event that the results could be seen and discussions about what had worked and what hadn’t could take place.
Contrast this with modern marketing methods that are highly targeted, heavily dependent on social media, and can be instantly analysed – and you begin to see why agile marketing is the future.
Agile marketing methods must be guided by the overarching strategy set out in phase 1 and 2, but it focuses on producing high volumes of content quickly, smelling what’s selling, and always ensuring the focus is on those tasks and iterations that have the greatest impact on results and ROI.
How to implement agile marketing effectively
Put simply, agile marketing favours responding to change over sticking rigidly to a plan. Naturally, the first iteration of an agile marketing plan will be closely aligned to what you would have expected to produce using traditional methods. The difference is that, with agile marketing, there is no need to achieve ‘perceived perfection’ before you launch your campaign.
This means you can get vast amounts of content out in the public domain quickly, find out what iterations of it work, which platforms are most successful, and where you might be able to improve. Future iterations could involve tweaking your content slightly, making wholesale changes or deciding that one particular angle was a terrible idea and should be consigned to the scrapheap.
But failure is embraced. When one marketing creative is charged with spending a day producing a piece of work that ultimately fails to land, you have lost nothing and learnt something. As other members of the team are also engaged in producing volumes of output, the few attempts that fall by the wayside are negligible. Remember, this is about working together and achieving as a team. Everybody learns from what went wrong and so the collective is better informed than they were when the spring began.
This is not a process that will necessarily transform your marketing overnight, But in the long term you will create a marketing team with broad knowledge of how to approach each new sprint and each new product. But along the way, the flexible approach of agile marketing will ensure you are able to adapt to market changes and trends in a way that simply isn’t possible under an old-school strategy marketing process.
There are four broad features that define agile marketing:
The time you give your team to complete a specific project
Stand up meetings:
Daily meetings to discuss and track progress
A central place for progress to be logged and to which all team members have access
Adopting a collaborative approach in which everybody mucks in
The benefits of agile marketing
- Teams can produce, test and optimise campaigns quickly
- Different iterations can be tested and only the most successful developed
- Make rapid data-driven decisions
- Collaboration ensures all members are pulling in the same direction
Agile marketing as part of your overall marketing strategy
As previously stated, agile marketing does require an overall strategy. This modern approach doesn’t change the basic principle that you must know what you want your marketing plan to achieve in order to target it effectively and understand how successful it is.
The key for marketing managers is to ensure that every sprint, every stand up meeting, every progress tracking exercise and every member of the team is focused on the overriding strategy. Trying to implement agile marketing without a comprehensive marketing strategy will not work. It will be without direction and impossible to analyse.
Agile marketing is not a replacement for strategy marketing. It allows marketing teams time and flexibility to try out new things. Instead of holding a meeting that involves 8 people sitting around a table for 3 hours discussing how to engage a new sector of your audience, ask 2 team members to each spend a day creating an innovative way to reach them. That’s 16 man hours rather than 24, you have your most creative individuals getting straight on with the job, and at the end of it you have real-time data that definitively shows which approach was most successful. Your agile marketing efforts then feed into your overall marketing strategy which itself becomes agile but in a more pedestrian, considered way.
Examples of agile marketing
Agile marketing does not need to be ground-breaking. Sometimes, it is as simple as making small changes to your existing marketing efforts and analysing the results to establish whether those amendments have worked, or further iterations are required. This could include:
- Writing two blog posts per month tackling specific issues instead of spending hours labouring over a comprehensive e-book
- Optimising the landing pages on your website to drive conversions rather than redesigning the whole thing
- Maximising the opportunities presented by your best performing pages instead of creating a whole new campaign
We help companies across the world enhance their online presence through digital marketing. We adopt an agile approach within an agreed strategy to help our clients reach their target market and achieve their business goals.
For more details and to discuss how we can help you implement an effective agile marketing strategy, get in touch today.