In a recent conversation with a prospective client we turned to the topic of Agile Marketing, a term I had yet to encounter outside of the software development world. A quick search brought up 24 million hits, showing my obvious ignorance and a definitive need for a deeper look.
This methodology dates back to at least 2012 when a group of marketing leaders gathered, not unlike the original Agile developers in Utah in 2001, for the SprintZero Conference in San Francisco to define the Agile Marketing Manifesto. The concept of Agile Marketing is to break down campaigns into shorter steps, called "sprints", which typically range from 2-4 weeks and are rolled out in a plan, execute, measure, test feedback loop.
Through small adjustments, experimentation, and constant communication, highly focused marketing teams can test and launch successful, customer-focused campaigns faster and cheaper than the traditional, linear process of big projects leading to big kick-offs requiring massive budgets. This is not accomplished through cutting corners and simply rushing, but through a prioritization of tasks – work on the tasks that truly move the needle, then adjust post-sprint if those priorities have changed.
In fact, research done by CMG Partners in 2013 through interviews with 40 lead marketers from companies like Discover, HP, Hershey's, SAP and Teradata found that:
"With Agile, CMOs possess an unprecedented ability to tackle corporate and customer realities for better results; nearly 70 percent of CMOs using Agile said it increases profits and revenues."
But Agile requires marketers to come to terms with a number of concepts that fly in the face of traditional marketing practice, chiefly a willingness to present incomplete and unfinished ideas to the marketplace. By bringing campaigns to market quickly and then tweaking them based on specific, measurably KPI's, marketers can better anticipate changing customer needs. The "concept-to-delivery" timeline then moves from a matter of months to a matter of weeks, allowing marketing teams to typically perform changes and pivots quicker than their competitors.
Failure, too, is a significant component of Agile, which calls for failing fast and sometimes often, but never in the same way twice! It requires taking calculated risks which, if successful, could provide a huge payoff through first-mover advantage in the marketplace. Therefore a substantial amount of trust is required of teams that initiate Agile, as they are required to make data-based decisions quickly and implement on the fly to maintain their nimbleness.
In many ways this resembles the work we do at OnTarget:
- Constant communication with all client stakeholders, whether daily or weekly, regarding tweaking and adjusting of campaign messaging, data, or approach.
- Ability to ramp up quickly for go-to-market campaigns to gain the competitive edge.
- Instituting a shorter 'pilot project' with new clients for proof-of-concept and testing hypotheses before establishing a long-term strategy.
- Highly targeted, data-driven demand generation and discovery campaigns that produce ROI based on almost 20 years of experience in the industry.
OnTarget's been doing Agile for years, we just never had a name for it!
Here are some other great resources on Agile Marketing:
- For a definitive and comprehensive guide to Agile Marketing visit CMO Agenda and download their Agile Mindset and Agile Methodology e-books
- Misconceptions of Agile Marketing:"Debunking 3 Myths of Agile Marketing"
- HubSpot's Agile Marketing Presentation
By Peter Blute, Client Services Manager at OnTarget Partners, who helps marketing & sales executives develop solutions to drive new business opportunities. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (469) 200-4908.