Applying The Agile Methodology To Marketing

Agile Marketing

The latest buzz in marketing is around the idea of agile marketing. However, there is still a lot of confusion about the concept and how to apply it. Agile marketing is a methodology of “real time” marketing that continuously utilizes analytics and segment data to quickly address market opportunities and challenges. The methodology utilizes a five-step process: identify opportunities and challenges, implement rapidly, evaluate results, adjust, and redeploy.

In comparison to what we via as a standard marketing approach, agile marketing:

  • responds quickly to change versus blindly implementing a plan;
  • rapid iterations versus long, drawn-out campaigns;
  • continuous testing and data versus months of research and analysis;
  • numerous small experiments versus a few large campaigns;
  • individualized interactions versus a blanket approach;
  • collaboration versus silos and hierarchy.

Gone are the days of analysis paralysis. To be effective and competitive, firms must simply be able to act quickly. An agile marketing approach means one must be able to respond more like a race car driver (nimble, rapid response to the situation at hand, continuously evaluating data) than one on a leisurely drive through the countryside.

This is not to say that you should do away with your marketing plan and fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to marketing and business development at your firm. Following are four principles to follow in order to maximize this marketing approach.

1. Craft a Flexible Plan. 
With the big picture in mind—the overall business plan of your firm—craft a marketing plan that sets a solid direction but is flexible enough to adapt. Maintain flexibility and the ability to shift activities based on what can be done successfully and effectively in the near future. This will enable your firm to adjust and react to the marketplace and remain focused on the highest value activities. What ROI are you getting from activities? What do your customers need or want and how do you meet that need? What changes in the industry or government affect your firm and its clients? Developing a longer-term roadmap is essential, but measuring in short increments and implementing flexible decision making will give you room to adjust for what is working well and abandon what isn’t.

2. Be Nimble. 
Agile marketing is built on the idea of getting marketing campaigns deployed quickly. No more waiting three months to deliver a campaign. With agile marketing, you push a message to the market quickly and adapt based on the data. This requires constant information gathering and dissection in order to adapt strategies for maximum impact. It is imperative to have well-grounded strategies in place with the foundational elements to leverage current activities and make quick adjustments.

3. Data Trumps Assumptions. 
“They went with another provider because of price.” “They wanted a local firm.” “It was just a pricing exercise.” “People are busy or on vacation.” These are all assumptions (excuses) as to why you did not land that new client or lack engagement from your audience, unless you have hard data to back it up. Cataloging and analyzing data in order to adapt marketing activities trumps what you may think you know. There is an overwhelming amount of technology that help with this task—everything from marketing automation to Google Analytics. Use the data to make solid decisions – just do so quickly.

4. Start Small. 
As with any new marketing endeavor, start small and don’t forget to trust your common sense. If you don’t have the resources to manage multiple social channels and a weekly blog on top of the website and tradeshow activities, then don’t. Stay laser-focused on the ROI and focus on what you can do well. Don’t try to do everything at once. Learn as you go.

Ultimately, agile marketing comes down to six fundamental elements:

  • Be poised to respond quickly to changes in the market.
  • Produce campaigns that can be tested rapid fire and optimized over time.
  • Try numerous tactics, adjust, and repeat those that succeed.
  • Use input from other departments to augment marketing efforts.
  • Select campaigns and projects based on hard data.
  • Avoid tunnel-vision through active collaboration among team members.

Implementing an agile marketing methodology results in more efficient, effective marketing efforts. However, agile marketing demands that leadership must be willing to accept good over perfect and an appropriate amount of data over analysis paralysis.