Agile Marketing Series Part 1: Dear Marketers, This Should Not be New To You
It seems like overnight everyone is talking, selling, living and breathing “agile.” Am I right? This week I had three back-to-back client calls and on every single one of them the topic at hand was “let’s talk about how we are agile” and/or “how can we be more agile?”
I first heard of agile about two years ago when I started working with Yeti, a software development company in San Francisco.
That’s probably because “agile” really started with software development.
“Agile methodology is a type of project management process, mainly used for software development, where demands and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customers.” -ZenKit
Having developers spend tons of time and money to build a product that along the way turns into something entirely different than what was initially envisioned is NOT a sustainable business model.
“Constantly changing client needs and the general lack of predictability inherent in software development, can be pitfalls for any project. Unfortunately, using traditional methods of project management that don’t take that unpredictability into account can make those pitfalls impossible to navigate.” - Yeti CEO, Tony Scherba
Enter agile methodology.
Agile is So Hip
Recently, I’ve been seeing this word applied to just about EVERYTHING. “Agile Human Resources,” “Agile Business Development,” and “Agile Marketing.”
We see trends like this get widespread adoption in business all the time. For example, Open floor plans, enjoyable work environments complete with lots of perks, etc.
There are many proven studies that show how these trends benefit businesses so I’m not saying that “agile” is a silly trend that shouldn’t be taken seriously. It’s a proven methodology that is incredibly effective in helping unite individuals and teams while saving your organization a ton of time and money and continuously improving processes over time.
But here’s my thing (and maybe unpopular opinion)...isn’t this just about being organized and communicating effectively?
According to AgileMarketing.net, agile values should revolve around:
“Responding to change over following a plan
Rapid iterations over Big-Bang campaigns
Testing and data over opinions and conventions
Many small experiments over a few large bets
Individuals and interactions over one size fits all
Collaboration over silos and hierarchy”
If people in marketing aren’t already doing this they’re probably not good at marketing.
After a decade of working in digital marketing, I have found that when it comes to marketing, many businesses need to get organized, set up a process, measure and adapt. This is the high level strategy I teach most marketing departments. I guess I can call that “Agile Marketing,” but in my opinion, that’s just effective marketing.
That being said, I am still surprised at how often half of my job is actually getting people organized, creating a process and setting up tools to measure success. Teaching marketing is the other half.
As a marketing coach who helps create and teach marketing strategies to small businesses, I don’t create any two strategies the same and there’s no two duplicate implementation methods.
In marketing a “one-size-fits-all-approach” and/or the “set it and forget it” mentally DOES. NOT. WORK. I emphasize this because you’d be surprised how many businesses still believe they can create a marketing program and then let it run.
Any given marketing strategy I create depends entirely upon that business’s objectives and goals and how their business operates.
It’s so important to implement a marketing strategy in a way that’s conducive to how a business is already running while simultaneously staying aware of what’s trending in their given industry, measuring tactics and adapting.
To further demonstrate why agile should be common place within any marketing program, let’s breakdown this scenario:
Marketing agencies handle many different clients. Each one of those clients has different needs. Each one of those needs are typically executed by a different specialist. I.e. a digital advertising expert, a social media manager, an email marketing manager, a designer and an SEO specialist to name a few. (As a marketing consultant, you may be a one-person shop, but it’s still a lot of moving parts to manage and align.)
If we’re adhering to the marketing philosophy that you need to consistently be implementing both lead generating and brand awareness strategies to gain traction in any given market, there are going to be multiple tactics across multiple platforms happening at once.
In order for a marketing strategy to be effective it is ESSENTIAL that all of these tactics are aligned. Messaging and creative have to be the same across all platforms in order for people to recognize your brand and take action.
There are a lot of moving parts, things happen quickly and there are a lot of people involved that need to know what’s going on where. Marketing is a constantly changing world. Not only in terms of tactics, but you also have to take into consideration what your competitors are doing and, most importantly, whether or not what you’re doing is working.
We are now in an age where marketing tactics can be measured. Before starting any marketing activity you should also know how you are going to measure that activity, what your goal is and when you want to reach that goal by. Will it be in website traffic? Engagement? Downloads? What number do you want to reach? By When?
You can see how when it comes to running an effective marketing program that constant communication, ability to adapt, the reliance on data and team communication and collaboration have to be in play.
If you want to call it agile and spend a lot of time creating a fancy process for this, go for it. But ask yourself, is it really necessary? Am I already practicing this?
If so, don’t fix what’s not broken.
The point I’m trying to make is that in business we should constantly be focusing on the bigger picture. There are tons of trends, LOTS of different software platforms, a lot of potential employees- good and bad, etc. etc.
I see a lot of people get caught up with process implementation, with implementing their “agile process” that they miss the bigger picture and end up being less effective than before because they get agile tunnel vision.
Yes agile is about the process, but it’s equally about being able to look at the process and know when it is or isn’t working or when it needs to be tweaked.
A good rule of thumb is to constantly be asking yourself, “Is this adding value?” and “How is this helping me reach my goals?” If you answer “It’s not” to either of those questions it’s time to reevaluate.
And remember- as humans, as business owners, as businesses- we are constantly evolving. Embrace the journey.
In Part 2 of my Agile Marketing blog post, I will break down my formula for applying “agile” marketing. Stay tuned!