Agile Marketing: Integrating a New Approach
BY PAT CHARLA AND JENNIFER WONG
When you think of agility‚ you probably think of something that is nimble‚ flexible‚ adaptable‚ and quick. And that’s exactly what you get when you dive into agile marketing. Instead of being stuck on a predetermined path‚ agile marketing lets you quickly change direction‚ try a new move‚ revamp an entire campaign‚ or otherwise adjust your marketing efforts as the situation merits. Agile marketing isn’t about writing the traditional marketing plan and executing it‚ so what is it?
What It IsThe definition of agile marketing is really rather simple. This new approach emphasizes the ability to rapidly adapt and adjust your marketing efforts to fit what’s going on with your customers‚ market conditions‚ and business direction du jour. Your overall goals with the agile approach are:
• Speed: Acting quickly to keep up with the fast-paced Internet
• Predictability: Gauging how customers will behave based on real-time results
• Transparency: Answering questions honestly and openly‚ providing the info consumers are seeking
• Adaptability: Reacting quickly and changing course to keep up with consumer needs
If you wanted to sum up some of its key actions and principles‚ agile marketing helps you to:
• Act fast and see what happens
• Respond rapidly to change to get the most out of your marketing efforts
• Collaborate with everyone involved for an ongoing batch of new ideas and directions
• Create the most awesome customer experience your customers ever knew
Agile marketing is able to create extraordinary customer experiences because you are consistently focusing on their individual needs and changing your actions to meet them. The more quickly you can learn what consumers are responding to (or not)‚ the more quickly you can adapt to give them what they want.
The whole process is done in tight‚ consecutive loops‚ which agile marketing maven Jim Ewel notes makes us smarter‚ faster‚ and more readily able to meet customer demands. As he also notes‚ the customers are the mainstay of your business‚ and agile marketing helps you keep them happy by keeping up with their rapidly changing desires and behaviors.
All this customer-centric stuff is a far cry from many traditional marketing techniques. And its extreme rapidity even differs from the lengthy‚ ongoing strategies used for some inbound techniques. While nurturing leads and other strategies can be viewed as ongoing marathons‚ agile marketing is the quick and nimble sprint.
For example‚ let’s say summer’s on the horizon‚ a time you know people like to travel. Since you’re in the chauffeured ground transportation industry‚ you decide to kick off a two-week agile marketing campaign on road trips. Your goal every day for the duration is to post something about road trips on your social media channels.
Day one you post a tidbit about weird roadside attractions. It soars on Facebook but bombs on Twitter. You’re guessing the cool image had something to do with it‚ since Facebook is more photo-friendly than Twitter. Day two you post tips about traveling with family members‚ and it’s kind of ho-hum on both. Day three you post information on fond road trip memories‚ something you came up with at the last second since you remembered your classic Mustang.
People respond in droves to the road trip memories post‚ loving it. You hit on something big‚ and agile marketing lets you keep it going. Try sticking with the favorite theme‚ asking your audience about their favorite destinations for summer vacation. Ask about their favorite cars for road trips‚ work or play. The car post is a hit‚ and the Mustang keeps coming up. That’s when you notice Mustang happens to be celebrating its 50th birthday this year.
You scrap Twitter and move forward with a Facebook photo gallery of Mustang photos through the years. It soars. Photos are a hit. You go back to weird roadside attractions and do a whole photo album on Facebook. It soars. Photos are still a hit.
You get the picture‚ literally‚ of how you can bend‚ flow‚ adapt‚ and change to suit your audience’s tastes‚ needs‚ and response rates with quick and nimble agile marketing.
Agile Marketing vs. Other Marketing TechniquesMarketing maven Ewel admits he’s out to “evangelize” agile marketing‚ and that makes him a good one to outline the differences between it and other marketing techniques.
• Standard marketing: Follows a set plan of action from start to finish
• Agile marketing: Responds to change in the consumer environment‚ adapting marketing techniques to fit the environment
• Standard marketing: Sets up and implements a “Big Bang” strategy‚ like the creation of the universe
• Agile marketing: Repeats short and fast techniques‚ like the ongoing creation of stars in the universe
• Standard marketing: Adheres to conventions and opinions
• Agile marketing: Relies on testing incoming data
• Standard marketing: Makes a few big bets
• Agile marketing: Implements batches of small experiments
• Standard marketing: Aims for target audience as a whole
• Agile marketing: Aims for personal and individual interactions
• Standard marketing: Sets up its foundation with silos and hierarchy‚ by keeping marketing tasks‚ channels‚ or services as separate duties for specific departments or people
• Agile marketing: Lets everyone join in the spirit of collaboration
Where It Came FromThis bold new approach didn’t just suddenly appear on the marketing scene. It actually has its roots in the software industry where it spawned the “agile software development movement.” The movement is so strong that a batch of software experts wrote a “Manifesto for Agile Software Development” that outlines its core tenets:
• Interactions and individuals over tools and processes
• Working software over thorough documentation
• Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
• Responding to change over sticking firm to a preset plan
Sound familiar? Marketing folks working closely with software developers saw the beauty of agility and began to use the same principles and concepts in their marketing efforts. As evidenced by the popularity of agile marketing in today’s marketing arena‚ the concept stuck and continues to succeed. Keep in mind that traditional methods of doing things are not discarded altogether; they can still have a valuable place in the world of agility‚ just not the middle of the stage.
Why It WorksToday’s marketing landscape is packed with smartphones‚ email‚ content marketing‚ tablets‚ social media‚ and consumers who have the attention span of a flea. The landscape is fragmented‚ noisy‚ and moves at breakneck speed. Agile marketing gives you at least a fighting chance of keeping up with it all.
It’s FastTime is a huge commodity that’s in very short supply; consumers and companies just don’t have a lot of it. Agile marketing makes the most of time by packing a big punch into a short campaign and serving up a flurry of quick campaigns in the time it would take a single old-school campaign to run its full course.
Marketing folks working closely with software developers saw the beauty of agility and began to use the same principals and concepts in their marketing efforts.”
The ability to quickly adapt to consumer behaviors is another big plus‚ as are the real-time results. Instead of wasting time letting an ineffective campaign run its course‚ you take the reins and respond with fresh strategies that keep up with the fluid and often fickle fast-paced World Wide Web. Consumers have come to expect everything to move quickly.
Lets You Set PrioritiesWith time already at a premium‚ agile marketing helps with ranking immediacy by letting you set priorities as you move through a campaign‚ adjusting them quickly and as needed‚ so no effort goes to waste. You can likewise focus on the most important efforts first‚ ensuring that no essential work remains incomplete.
Promotes EngagementEvery marketing effort needs to engage two main audiences: company executives and customers. Execs need to be engaged to ensure those efforts line up with overall business goals. Customers expect to engage in meaningful conversation. They want to tell their own stories‚ listen to the stories of others‚ and enjoy open discussion directly with your company.
Your daily agile marketing reviews keep you and any other company execs engaged on a regular basis. Your ability to change and adapt campaigns based on consumer response does the same for your customers.
RelevancyDue to its rapid response rate‚ you can keep your messages and information relevant on various levels. Quickly responding to customer inquiries and needs certainly keeps things pertinent‚ but you also have the ability to do so much more.
If a competitor launches a brand-new service or deal‚ you can swiftly cook up an agile marketing campaign that matches or addresses their efforts. If a customer bad-mouths you on Twitter or Facebook‚ you can keep it relevant with a prompt defense. If there’s a strange stretch of weather‚ an unexpected event‚ or current headline that affects your company or the industry‚ you can once again keep it relevant with agile marketing.
Old-school marketing methods often required you to plan months in advance‚ posing the risk that any specific strategy or campaign would lose its relevancy when it came time to actually launch it. You don’t have that risk with agile marketing‚ as you’re working‚ living‚ breathing‚ and creating in a real-time environment. Such relevancy not only keeps your efforts fresh and current‚ but it also lets you seize sudden opportunities that may have otherwise been missed.
Puts the Focus on CustomersAs mentioned before‚ putting the customer first falls right into line with current marketing trends. Agile marketing abides by what is known as the Four C’s marketing model‚ created by Robert Lauterborn. This model changes the focus of marketing from:
• Price to Cost
• Promotions to Communications
• Place to Convince
• Product to Consumer
Lets You Keep Track of LeadsKeeping your focus on the individual consumer means you’ll always know where your leads may be. The constant feedback‚ analytics‚ and other data can clue you in on where your lead may be along the buying process‚ as well as the type of interaction and information that may best benefit him or her at the moment. If your lead generation happens to be in a slump‚ agile marketing lets you drum up a quick slate of efforts to bring new leads streaming in.
Gives You Instant ResultsTracking your campaigns is easier than ever‚ thanks to tools such as Google Analytics‚ social media reports‚ and others that serve up valuable metrics. The data are often presented in real-time‚ or extremely close to it‚ which lets you immediately see the kind of response a specific campaign may be getting.
Allows for Risk and FailureAgile marketing was made for innovation‚ with new ideas and concepts constantly coming down the pike. Some succeed; others fail. And the marketing world keeps on churning regardless. Failing at a particular strategy or technique is typically not a major deal‚ since you can easily get right back up and try something new. Learning from the failure is the important thing‚ and you can put that lesson into action right away when you devise your next campaign.
Besides‚ the landscape is shifting so rapidly that chances are no one will even remember you may have failed yesterday. They’re too busy with the next shiny new thing of today‚ which will be a brand new thing by tomorrow.
Agile Marketing Practices and TipsA few practical suggestions can help you create and launch your first agile marketing campaign and help set the stage for many others to come down the road.
Setting It UpWhen considering your first campaign‚ keep a few key best practices in mind:
• Aim for collaboration with your employees and customers‚ gathering ideas and responding to wants
• Go for “sprint” campaigns that last only two to three weeks
• Back your campaigns by user stories instead of extended research or documentation
Managing ItDaily meetings or reviews are the way to best gauge up-to-the-minute results of your active campaigns. Take about 15 minutes each day to check the progress over the past 24 hours.
Once a month take a deeper look at the previous campaigns you had in play over the past 30 days. Here you can spot check strategies that worked‚ those that didn’t‚ and others that may have promise with a bit of tweaking. You can then plan a new sprint armed with real-life knowledge of how your potential clients responded to your efforts.
Putting It into ActionSeveral tips for putting agile marketing into action come from Technically Marketing:
• Develop a single customer view
• Gain customer insight‚ acting on it when possible
• Focus on the value of increased customer insight
• Automate your marketing processes
• Quickly pinpoint and respond to change
Go through the cycle of:
• Tracking: Keep an eye on what you’re doing and how consumers are responding to your current agile marketing sprint
• Measuring: Decide which actions on your part led to specific results on the consumer’s part
• Inspecting: Analyze strategies that worked and which may need some tweaking
• Adjusting: Make changes as necessary to get the full power of your efforts
• Repeat‚ repeat‚ repeat
How to BeginStart with a few simple marketing techniques or a project that’s easy to execute. Make sure you review your efforts every day‚ noting actions you took the previous day and what you’re planning for today’s efforts. Keep a keen eye on tracking and measuring your efforts‚ so you can really hone in on strategies that are working well. Then use more of the successful strategies in a series of more quick sprints with the goal of increasing your effectiveness and ROI each time.
Daily meetings or reviews are the way to best gauge up-to-the-minute results of your agile marketing campaigns. Take about 15 minutes each day to check out the campaign progress over the past 24 hours.”
Agile marketing lives up to its name by offering a flexible and rapid way to adapt your marketing strategies to meet customer‚ company‚ and market needs. You’ve learned what it is‚ how it differs from traditional forms of marketing and how the concept was born. You also got a solid rundown on why agile marketing works so well into today’s rapid-fire world‚ meeting customer behaviors‚ expectations and even their whims of the day. You then got a crash course on the concept‚ complete with an example of what your marketing might look like when you apply the agile approach. So go ahead and give it a whirl; you may be surprised at the results as well as the things you’ll learn. [CD0614]