Is Agile Marketing Right For Your Organization?

  • October 2014
  • Posted By Janet Muto
The term “agile marketing” is cropping up more and more in executive conversations these days.  So what exactly is it?  Is it just another buzzword, or a marketing concept that is worth bringing into your organization?

Thinking Agile Is Not New


As it turns out, the concept of working in an “agile” manner has been around for over a decade. Its genesis can be traced back to the Agile Development Manifesto – a methodology first documented in 2001 by a group of software developers seeking to share their experiences with others and establish a collective method of bringing new products to market with more success and fewer headaches.

At its core, the agile movement is about philosophy over process and a belief that when it comes to large, enterprise-level endeavors, process itself will get you to an outcome but not necessarily all the way to success.  Why?  Because the limitations of any process it cannot account for the unforeseen or the unexpected.

Commit To a New Way of Thinking
When we apply an “agile” approach, we acknowledge that collaboration and communication are the drivers of success – not process.  We believe that the ability to change course during a project is more important than following a plan.  And ultimately we expect success will come through iteration and learning – not trying to get everything right day one.

Those principles translate well to the world of marketing and as such have become the foundation for the agile marketer’s philosophy – a belief that we can be more successful through frequent, customer-centric iterations of an idea, than trying to perfect it before launch.

This idea represents a paradigm shift for the traditional marketing function.  As with any shift in organizational thinking, there is risk in this fact alone.

Can Agile Marketing Help Me?
So is agile marketing worth considering for your organization.  Here are four simple questions to consider:

1.  Do you have a product launch coming in the next 12-18 months?
Launches in the traditional sense are expensive, labor-intensive activities with significant risk and unclear ROI.

With an agile approach you can mitigate risk by “learning into” a go-to-market strategy that allows you to test and learn your way to success. Rather than a heavy up at launch, you can start with smaller bets that will allow for fast learning and rapid iteration.  Capture insights as you go and apply that learning to refine your strategy.  Once you find the winning formula, then build scale to capture the full market opportunity.

2.  Do you have more ideas than your current marketing budget will allow for?
Organizations often struggle with getting an idea from the whiteboard to the real world.

Because agile marketing methodology enables marketers to test small, multiple ideas and combinations can be tested to identify the highest performers.  Failure is acceptable and necessary for greater discovery.

3.  Do you want to foster more collaboration across your marketing and product organization?
It is often difficult to get teams to work across functional groups and embrace collaborative work style.

At its core, the agile approach encourages close alignment between all of the functions with the working team.  Through a collaborative working approach (or “sprints”), all stakeholders have to participate and own the outcome of the project.

4.  Do you want to use data and learning to drive strategy?
Obtaining a “single version of the truth” is critical for organizations that want to drive decisions through data rather than opinion.

The primary focus of agile marketing is a build-measure-learn feedback loop that allows for repetitive learning and objective decision making that uses a fact-based approach to share performance towards the collective goal.

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, than agile marketing is something you should be looking at for 2015.  In reality, you can experiment with agile methodologies as part of your current planning cycle by applying collaboration techniques such road mapping or sprints to an upcoming project or strategic initiative.

In summary, marketers can use an agile approach to galvanize their organization behind a common goal and foster collaboration across functional groups.  The benefit to the enterprise can be significant and is proven effective at accelerating time-to-market for critical projects, increasing the organization’s appetite for experimentation, enabling faster test learn and ultimately resulting in a more efficient path to success.


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