Agile Marketing is a phrase that continues to gain traction in marketing circles. It’s an easy concept to initially dismiss… as simply just another buzz phrase. Another concept to file away with TQM (Total Quality Management) certificates and Six Sigma Blackbelts until the “next big thing” comes along.
Well, agile marketing isn’t any of those strategies from the past… in fact, it’s something altogether new.
Agile marketing is a strategic approach that seeks to enable organizations — like Building Product Manufacturers — to respond to change quickly, by building flexibility into a management approach from the start. It’s essentially a set of practices that focuses on executing projects by working in short sprints — allowing sales and marketing teams to easily shift focus, adapt to customer needs and adjust priorities. Which helps them be better equipped to manage expectations. And poised to be much more nimble, as conditions change.
While you may wish to study the concept via the Agile Marketing Manifesto, here are five Agile Marketing principles that Building Product Brands can adopt to create more effective sales and marketing alignment.
Focus on customer value and business outcomes… over activity and outputs.
Prioritizing the business needs of your customers and prospects creates more targeted and relevant marketing programs. So, invest more time creating the “right things”… versus spending valuable capacity creating more things.
Deliver value early and often… rather than waiting for perfection.
Instead of waiting for everything in a campaign or product launch to be battle tested as perfect, begin delivering value to select customers, early in the cycle. Continue to deliver to ever-wider audiences, increasing “value” based upon lessons learned.
Learn through experiments and data… over opinions and conventions.
Test assumptions, collect data and apply incremental metrics to create momentum. And then make sustainable, more informed marketing decisions going forward. Just because a program worked for your team in the past, doesn’t mean it will resonate with audiences who continue to evolve.
Emphasize cross-functional collaboration… over silos and hierarchies.
Soliciting perspectives from multiple company stakeholders will produce more engaging — and impactful — sales and marketing results… over efforts from siloed departments who typically adhere to strict, hierarchical decision-making.
Respond to change… instead of following a static plan.
What’s the risk of avoiding agile posture? Brands may stay stuck in outdated programs. And, as such, be unable to deviate from a rigid plan — when change occurs — risking that audiences remain underserved. And ensuring less-than-optimal outcomes. Instead, demonstrate flexibility… with the ability to respond quickly. After all, early adopters tend to gain brand share sooner and retain that competitive advantage.
Building Product Brands that become agile… place customers and prospects “front and center” in everything they do. Sounds obvious, right? After all, what kind of sales and marketing approach… doesn’t focus on audiences?
But it’s easy to fall into the trap of operating one-step-removed and devoting too much energy to managing the brand. And churning out campaigns… according to a rigid schedule. Agile marketing makes it a point to never lose sight of the primary reason for a brand’s existence: Its customers. And future customers.
What agile marketers must keep foremost — in the minds of their teams and their marketing agency partners — is how best to engage customers at every stage of the buyer’s journey. That’s difficult to outline for individual decision-makers… making collaboration with other business departments a cornerstone of any agile marketing approach.
Exactly what that collaboration looks like will vary, depending upon the unique circumstances of each organization. For Building Product Brands seeking to integrate agility into daily operations, collaboration may be as simple as regularly inviting colleagues from another department(s) to meetings.
Agile marketers understand the importance of diverse opinions. And recognize that they can’t — and shouldn’t — attempt to strategize everything independently.
Set specific and measurable goals
The collaborative nature of agile teams is reinforced by setting objectives and goals at the team level… rather than the individual level.
This type of goal-setting is supported by the concept that leaders of agile marketing teams mustn’t prescribe what to do. But rather, they need to ensure that directions are clear. And work to remove impediments to progress.
This leads to a much more linear hierarchy, with less micromanagement and more empowered team members who — together with their marketing agencies — work in concert, to achieve better results.
It’s vital to never forget that setting targets also means measuring incremental metrics. Decide in advance the specific analytics that will be used — to determine benchmarks for success — and how data will be captured and leveraged.
Create a prioritized workload
Once goals have been determined, the overall strategic direction becomes clear. Only then is it time to develop tactics. Team members become responsible for managing their own priorities — and workloads — designed to help achieve the mission.
It’s not a static plan… that’s produced once and referred to on occasion. Instead, it’s fluid and is constantly being updated to reflect changing needs and priorities… and designed to capture new opportunities. It’s designed to “Fail-Fast”, as half-baked ideas are fleshed out… and tactics that are no longer relevant, are removed.
Work in small steps
Agile marketing teams shouldn’t try to tackle everything at once. Instead, they should pace in intervals.
In practice, this means working together to plan the specific tasks to be accomplished — estimating how long they will take — and deciding how to apply time-and-materials capacity.
This is a team-led process after all… which requires constant, collaborative communication. Setting defined deadlines and micro milestones focuses everyone on the priorities at hand. When a team is free to manage its own workload, this nurturing environment can lead to rapid, consistent progress. And lessen the risk for inaction.
Working in smaller intervals also leads to a shorter feedback loop. At the end of each completed task, a team can produce “best-practices” from which they can learn. Evaluate what is working, adjust priorities… and ensure continuous progress.
Use data to make decisions
When it comes to agile marketing, there’s little room at the table for egos. It’s important for agile marketers to allow statistics to take precedence over opinions and convictions. This process makes it easier to double down on what works. And deprioritize less valuable activities.
Making decisions with data requires transparency. So, everyone on an agile marketing team must have access to the same metrics. Root out the urge for any “data hoarding”. Results should also be shared beyond the immediate team and “sold up” the chain-of-command. In a world where sales and marketing activities are increasingly more measurable, faith-in-data tends to be borne out and embraced.
Embracing Agile Marketing
Adopting even one or two of the principles presented will provide a taste of how agile marketing can lead to more effective results. However, it’s important to understand that these are interlocking pieces of a wider philosophy.
And a brand will get the most out of this approach when it embraces an agile mindset… as part of a new way of working.
In an increasingly fast-paced, and digitally-driven world, no marketing team has the luxury of operating in a silo. Or simply sticking with the approaches… that may have worked in the past.
As recent news events have so well illustrated, conditions tend to shift rapidly. Business environments that were unthinkable just a couple of years ago, are now shaping the channel.
Agile marketing practices are key to ensuring Building Product Brands stay adaptable in a constantly changing — and ever more competitive — business environment.
Want to learn how to integrate agile concepts into your brand’s sales and marketing alignment strategy? The New Year is a particularly opportune time to launch. Send an e-mail to Steve Kleber at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.