What it Takes to be Agile...in Marketing.

In my last blog post ‘To Be Agile, or Not to Be Agile...in Marketing. That is the Question’, I talked about the benefits for both the client side and creative side to take an agile approach to marketing. But what really is agile marketing and how do you go about implementing it?

Agile Marketing - A test and learn mindset as well as collaborative process  

Much like agile software development, it can be thought of as a test-and-learn mentality (made popular by Eric Ries’ lean startup approach). It’s the notion of breaking up a longer process, such as developing a campaign or creative asset, into smaller, bite-sized pieces. Each segment is then tested, evaluated and worked on in iterative sessions until a final product is produced with alignment from stakeholders.

For even more context, Jim Ewel, creator of AgileMarketing.net, outlines the six core values of agile marketing that differ from traditional marketing:

  1. Responding to change over following a plan

  2. Rapid iterations over Big-Bang campaigns

  3. Testing and data over opinions and conventions

  4. Many small experiments over a few large bets

  5. Individuals and interactions over one size fits all

  6. Collaboration over silos and hierarchy

Making the shift - What it takes to adopt agile marketing into your organization

Organizations that grapple with adopting agile marketing have a more traditional sequential development approach ingrained in their fabric. The word agile itself means marked by ready ability to move with quick easy grace (Merriam-Webster). For an agency or company to be truly agile, they must have the ability to quickly gather and react to feedback, make decisions that drive change, and do so without interrupting the daily flow of the business.

Any organization can move towards applying an agile marketing approach if the stakeholders are fully committed to and understand the value and end goal of the agile process. There are six key components to making this happen:

  1. GOAL DEFINITION: Clear definition of your core stakeholders. Who are the change agents who will implement the agile mentality? Do they represent the major functions? They need to be involved and committed throughout the entire process.

  2. VISION ALIGNMENT: Stakeholder alignment on the goals, objectives and target audience from the start across the key stakeholders . It simply won’t work unless everyone is on the same page.

  3. COLLABORATION & COMMUNICATION: Emphasis on a collaborative working relationship vs. a hierarchical/dictatorial one. You will need to grow accustomed to frequent, brief meetings where decision-making is carried out by all involved parties.

  4. ITERATION: A mentality of ongoing iterative changes to evolve and improve the end outcome. No more Big Bang campaigns or spray-and-pray tactics.

  5. TEST AND LEARN: An understanding that it’s all about testing and learning using data, not opinions or perspectives. And there needs to an ongoing focus in obtaining target audience feedback throughout the process. While you and your internal teams think you know your customer, you are not your customer. It’s important to determine if you’re audience is responding in the way you want them to so you can make valuable changes early and often.

  6. CONSTANT ADAPTATION: Openness to change and a mindset of always adapting. Just like in agile development,  things are never done; it’s a continuous cycle that approaches but never reaches perfection.

Applying the tenets of of agile marketing takes time and adopting this approach won’t happen overnight. But once you’ve incorporated agile marketing into your operational processes, you’ll be able to achieve a more streamlined and productive workflow across teams. This will result in more efficient operations, higher quality deliverables, and ultimately better experiences for the end user. And let’s not forget, a better working relationship between clients and creatives.