Agile Marketing Flying High Without Getting Lost

Agile marketing. Flying high without getting lost.

Agile marketing. Flying high without getting lost. 780 441 nMerge

These days everyone is talking about Agile marketing – shorter planning cycles, rapid iterations, and speed to market. But how can agile marketing work for you? Our colleague, Romek Jansen, of MRMLogiq, BrandMaker and co-author of the book, Marketing Resource Management: The noble art of getting things done in marketing. Efficiently, recently published a great post on some key differences between Agile software development and Agile marketing.  Romek highlights a critical key difference in the measurement of success between Agile development and Agile marketing. Success is not just about improving efficiency within marketing departments; effectiveness must also be measured through the key question, “Did we change customer behaviour?” Basically what Romek is saying is that it’s not just about shipping workable product at each increment but will the outcome of all the effort effect change? This is an interesting question due to the underlying differences between software development and marketing. What we mean here is that Agile is in part about doing enough design upfront, enough effort or enough analysis to move to the next increment. It is underpinned by delivering value to the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. In software development the customer might usually be close to the developers (i.e. in B2B situations). However in marketing the closest you might get to a customer could be a persona on a wall! For the Agilist’s out there we could go into UX, HCI and Agile for situations where the customer isn’t close for software development but that is the topic for another post! 🙂 Yet understanding in marketing what will effect change in a customer’s behaviour implies a serious analytical effort. What is their current behaviour? What are their preferences? What are their problems? What do they value? And how might we go about creating and communicating value to solve their problems? Finally how do we define and measure success? In short we must begin with the end in mind in order for Agile marketing to be effective.

So with the end in mind, spare a thought for that customer.  With content on the increase, consumers are drowning and simply can’t consume content at the same pace as it is being created and delivered. This has serious cost implications not only for content creation but also for distribution. Digital channels are becoming more expensive due to bidding systems benefiting from increased competition. It’s logical. As more competition moves to online auction based digital advertising systems, costs will rise. Physical distribution channel costs are also rising due to shifting volumes moving to digital. This is why Mark W Schaeffer stated in his post about Content Shock, “that deep pockets win.” This is great for the companies that can afford a strategy of spending their competition into submission. However for the other 99% of businesses, it raises serious strategic implications.

How do marketers create and deliver campaigns and content efficiently so that it doesn’t get lost in the noise but effectively reaches their customers and changes their behaviour? The answer in part is good customer data and intelligence informing a solid understanding of your customers needs, problems and preferences. The other part, and the one you can control, is the systems that streamline repeated tasks, strip out unnecessary wastage, manage resources, report activities and manage external channels. These systems should free up your time to be, well, what you are paid to be, more creative. This creativity is what will set you apart from your competition to deliver unique content that is relevant and needed by the customer. Creativity and Agility go hand in hand. They are about group collaboration, ideation, experimentation, responding to change, and leaps of faith in uncertainty. We cannot think of a more synergetic relationship.

So what is the point? You are paid to be creative, to understand the customer and deliver business value through marketing strategies and tactics. This should result in prospects becoming customers and revenue growth. You aren’t paid to design and maintain systems that enable efficiency. The explosion in marketing technology has generated the need for marketing technologists who understand creativity and systems but that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be one. In an age of hyper-specialisation and fragmentation of marketing technology it is impossible for anyone to stay abreast of every detail as well as be creative marketers who are Agile in their approach. A recent discussion we had with a senior leader in an Australian publicly listed systems integration company highlighted this exact point. They supplied over 20 unique technologies yet found their value was diminishing as they were spread too thin. This is where a strong portfolio of partners who focus on key areas of marketing technology, consulting and delivery services can help you free up your time to be more creative and yes, become more Agile.

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