More than focusing on a couple of buzzwords, agile marketing should be about increasing the connection with clients and prospects, generating more value at a faster pace in alignment with the Brand´s strategy.
Agile has become a normal part of the corporate discourse. Several companies, from large corporations to startups have adopted it as a tool and framework to deal with uncertainty, changing consumer needs and to fend of competition.
Far from being a fad, Agile ins a very effective method for improving and increasing the output of teams, keep them more focus on the client and breaking down silos in order to generate more value. More than anything, agile is a set of principles, organized by software developers, to change how software was created:
"We are uncovering better ways of developing
software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on
the right, we value the items on the left more."
At Math Marketing, we adopted Agile from birth. Being the spin-off of a IT company, agile is part of our DNA. Over the years, we help several clients to adopt a more agile way of managing their marketing teams
Agile Marketing, Growth Hacking and Performance Marketing
The Challenge of agile marketing is adapting a framework for software development to a new context. Marketing is not the same as software. Different skills, objectives and profiles make for a difficult adaptation and blindly following the method without taking into account the differences will only create entropy.
Subjects like Growth Hacking and Performance Marketing, while inspired by agile, do not provide a comprehensive framework for planning and execute marketing in a large scale. Unfortunately, those concepts are sometimes used interchangeably, almost as synonyms, even if they are not, what adds to the confusion
Side Bar – What is Performance Marketing
The Interactive Advertising Bureau defines Performance marketing as:
"The intention of the campaign is to drive consumer action, as opposed to raise awareness
The cause and effect between the advertising and consumer action can be clearly measured
The buyer can optimize their buy in real or near real-time based on the measurement
In many cases payment is made based on consumer action (this is not necessarily required if the other three criteria are met)"
Side Bar – What is Growth Hacking
Growth hacking has a more fluid definition, but the original definition, by Sean Ellis:
"A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth. Is positioning important? Only if a case can be made that it is important for driving sustainable growth"
Agile Marketing – It is all about marketing
According with the American Marketing Association:
"Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large."
Therefore, Agile marketing is a new method to deliver that exchange. It must, above all, focus on the relationship between the firm and its customers. Trying new ways to facilitate the exchange between the parts.
An analysis by Mckinsey shows that moving towards agile marketing can generate 5-15% more growth while reducing 10-30% of costs
At Math, we have help several companies in their moves towards agile marketing. Our focus has always been on improving how companies communicate with, and advertise to, their customers. And we take a somewhat different approach towards it.
Agile Marketing should focus on:
Integrated, multidisciplinary teams
This one is pretty straight out of agile playbook. A agile team needs to have all of the core capabilities necessary to create, launch and measure communications. If you are a e-commerce, Creatives, Analytics, CRM, media planning, SEO and CRO should be on your team. Maybe pricing if you plan on doing several promotions and discounts. If you are a B2B company, perhaps events and PR should be part of the team. The point is, teams should be able to completely develop all parts of a campaign.
Decisions based on data
A lot of marketing and communication historically has been about gut feelings, "creative genius" and guess work. We are not advocating against intuition, actually the opposite, we believe that marketing intuition should be followed by data. Analytics should be the foundation of a agile marketing team and the analysis should be structure about increasing its business impacts.
Autonomy to decide, approve and launch
In order to be agile, teams must have a high level of autonomy regarding the campaigns it creates. Long approval processes and corporate red tape may kill the process. That means that areas such as legal, should be involved in process and sometimes, even be a member of the team. Branding should work as a strategic framework to help direct the decision-making process and give the guidelines in which teams can operate.
Client discovery and testing
Everything an Agile marketing teams does should be based on testing. With the current digital tools available it is easy to test and improve in every point of the journey. But not only there, testing sales pitches, contact center scripts. The important caveat its that the objective of the tests are not only about improving performance. The testis should improve your understanding of your clients and their needs, in order to refine client clusters around more specific characteristics and allow for even more personalized communications.
Supported by long term planning
Planning is not the enemy of agile. This is where we diverge from the norm of the discussion. An agile marketing teams needs to be connected with a the strategy of the company. The teams should not be able to follow the data wherever it took them, adapting its messages and ads solely based on the clients responses. The general strategy of the company has to be the guideline. Also, when building sprint backlogs, teams should aim at a mid-to-long term view of the major milestones ahead (we usually to a 90 days general planning for the backlog) in order to plan for larger, integrated campaigns and to incorporate disciplines such as TV, events and trade that take longer to develop.
Adaptation beyond just following the plan
With that being said, planning is a compass, not a train-track. Teams should be able to adapt the planning to events on the ground either to respond to new inputs or to tackle new opportunities.
Organized around clients, not products or objectives
That is another controversial topic. A lot of agile marketing teams are organized around products/services. We believe that it is much better to organize teams around client groups or segments. If the idea is to do client discovery, organizing around client segments may better organize the impacts.
Agile Marketing is a new way of organizing the marketing workflow. The idea is to free ourselves from the annual marketing plan and company silos to respond faster to market demands and opportunities in order to decrease costs and improve performance.
As a framework, it is not to be applied without a conscious understanding of the specifics of each firm and market. It takes discipline, leadership and commitment to make It work. It takes practice and one becomes better with time. However, blindly applying the method without critical thinking is the key to failure. More than focusing on a couple of buzzwords and concepts, adopting agile marketing should be about increasing the connection with clients and prospects, generating more value at a faster pace in alignment with the Brand´s strategy.