Tips for more successful agile marketing

| July 12, 2017

Are you an agile marketer? Or have you heard someone say that they are doing ‘agile marketing’ recently? Anton Buchner, of global marketing consultancy TrinityP3, demystifies the genre.

We have heard the term ‘agile marketing’ being bandied about regularly in projects with local and global marketing teams for a few years now.

So for this post, I’d like to firstly demystify what agile marketing actually means. It’s not all about speed by the way!

As well as give some tips on how to make it work within your current organisational structure and roster of agencies.

What is agile marketing?

It’s a term that has stemmed from agile software development whereby solutions are created and evolved with cross-functional team collaboration.

Agile software development was designed to have all aspects of planning, analysis, design, coding, and testing included together to have working prototypes and products developed and presented to stakeholders for fast approval and implementation throughout defined release cycles.

Agile software development therefore, involves continuous refinement and improvement. It was apparently used as far back as the 1950s with early computing software testing. And most modern day developers are well versed in the philosophy and working methodology.

Agile marketing, on the other hand, has been recently coined to overcome the challenges that silo based organisational structures present in delivering go-to-market activity.

Fast start-ups and innovative organisations have realised processes and line management can stymie and significantly slow down go-to-market activity. Hence rapid collaboration on key projects in reaction to market change has become the modern day marketing mantra.

However, from TrinityP3’s perspective, marketers and agencies are mixing up speed to market with the essence of more effective collaborative creation.
Agile is not all about speed

Whilst agile allows for more rapid responses, be careful when approaching marketing from a speed to market perspective. Many strategic and tactical campaigns are still planned and booked around traditional milestones, calendars and seasonal events. The expectations of marketing performance are still reported post campaign, in months, quarters, half yearly and annually.

There’s also a challenge with always on and BAU activity in agreeing what is actually delivering the result.

Agile means collaboration

Agile marketing really means getting the right heads around the table at the right time to fast track decision-making.

So if you’re an agile marketer you need to ask yourself some critical questions around WHY, WHAT and HOW:
Why am I collaborating on it?

What is the business impact you are aiming to achieve with agile experimentation
How will continuous improvement be handled
What new processes are required

What am I collaborating on?

Be clear on how the activity has been prioritised within your organisation
Be clear on which stakeholders are required
Be clear on the capability levels required
Be clear on the maturity curve status

How will collaboration impact the business?

What structures, processes and other activity will be impacted
What is the impact on resources (internal and external)
What is the impact on data usage, data flows and data governance
What is the impact on the technology ecosystem
What is the impact on BAU activity
How do roles and responsibilities get impacted
How will it impact traditional strategic activity

These are just the tip of the iceberg areas to be focusing on.

Agile marketing isn’t an excuse for no strategy

Some people we speak to believe agile marketing, or agile practice, is being tactical and having the ability to respond quickly to market changes. And when asked if they still have a marketing strategy, they generally say they don’t. Instead they have a calendar of activity that’s open to change.

Naturally this is dangerous.

As marketers, you still need a strategy defining market differentiation, territory to compete in, segments to target, and how success will be achieve and measured.

With agile marketing you will need to define what you actually mean by it, and how it fits in with traditional product creation, research, planning and execution practice.
Case study example

TrinityP3 worked with a marketing team recently who used the term agile marketing.

When we probed deeper we identified that the marketer had changed its strategy, and had defined a new way of working. However it’s agency roster hadn’t evolved to match.

Hence there was duplication of effort, lack of effective collaboration, waste of resource time, inefficiency in budget spend, and poor relationship behaviours.

All of which could be solved by understanding what level of agile marketing was required for the organisation, defining internal and external capability, developing appropriate processes that could be governed, as well as creating a new remuneration model that suited the new strategic intent.
To conclude

So if you’re espousing agile marketing, or are looking to evolve to a more agile approach, then please beware that it’s not simply a “get stuff out quicker” term.

Significant thinking is still required in order to actually make it work within your organisation.

Start by asking why, what and how, as outlined above.

And then look at new models for agile marketing management.

TrinityP3’s Engagement Agreements service is all about ensuring an agreed campaign development process is truly achievable and adhered to. This blog was first published on the TrinityP3 website and is republished here with the permission of the author.

Anton Buchner
Anton Buchner is one of Australian's leading customer engagement consultants. With an eye for discovering greater marketing value and a love for listening to what customers are really saying about a brand. Anton has helped take global and local businesses including Microsoft, Nestlé, P&G, Gloria Jean's, Foxtel and American Express amongst others to the next level.

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