The benefits of Agile Marketing, transformative digital marketing organization designs and workflows are a growing topic du jour. Agile marketing is buzzing, and as a result, it is one of the most common topics I talk about with clients today.
Unfortunately, Agile Marketing doesn’t have a commonly agreed upon definition, meaning different things to a lot of people, including so-called experts and those looking for answers. Agile Marketing has even been ‘coined’ as the faster way to manage your marketing team. Don’t be mistaken or fooled by the hype, adopting an Agile methodology doesn’t make you faster…necessarily. And in my opinion, not all aspects of marketing are best served with agile principles.
So, what are the benefits of Agile Marketing if not being faster?
Agile Marketing (see ‘4 Steps for Building an Agile Marketing Org’, Gartner subscription required) is based on a constant learning mindset. In essence, it means marketers need to evolve their planning and operational processes. Instead of thinking big campaigns, large innovation initiatives or extensive brand planning, it is about embracing a more adaptive and dynamic approach. Agile principles enable marketers to be more effective, improving the quality of their efforts; and enable marketing managers to be more efficient, increasing resource utilization and balance of the team.
Agile requires highly effective collaboration, and for Agile Marketing, this means elevating the importance of collaborating with sales, your customer insights experts, and partners to develop more relevant positioning, content, and customer acquisition programs. Agile principles encourage you to break down your programs into smaller prioritized tasks, focusing your team’s attention to the most pressing needs of the business, yet still staying nimble enough to quickly change direction if needed.
It’s about involving the voice of the customer in your planning and creation process instead of relying on your own opinion. It’s about having an ongoing conversation with your internal go-to-market team and customers. It’s about taking feedback further, integrating it, and turning it into higher quality marketing outcomes that will have a positive impact on your business.
Adopting an agile approach (regardless of whether you choose to use Scrum, Kanban, or a hybrid methodology) will also improve your sales and marketing alignment, further increasing focus, quality, and dare I say, trust. It helps to counteract the feeling that sales doesn’t have a voice in what marketing works on by integrating them into approved projects – supporting planning and review meetings, providing feedback, or participating directly as a project member. Simply put, Agile Marketing provides the nimbleness and focus to deliver what is needed, but not necessarily faster.
Agile Marketing’s project-centric philosophy and the need for Fat T skilled marketers (see ‘Designing Your Marketing Team for the Next Decade’, Gartner subscription needed) are highly valued. Agile Marketing relies on marketers with cross-functional skills – skills enabling them to play multiple roles and work on a wide variety of projects.
Broad and deep marketing skills empower an Agile Marketing team to complete a higher percentage of its work independently, swarm its members onto projects that are falling behind, and generally be more productive. This also provides marketing management greater flexibility of who can be assigned to projects, improving team utilization rates and overall efficiency, and eliminating the typical team bottlenecks caused by oversubscribed team specialists.
In summary, Agile Marketing is a great way to respond quickly to a changing market, but it’s not a silver bullet to increase project speed or a replacement for high-level strategy. Your team must have clear long-term goals in place and a coordinated data analytics strategy, or else your time, effort, and money will be wasted. The good news, employing an agile process coupled with high-level marketing strategy over time means that the best projects and investments will bubble to the top, creating an efficient, collaborative, and high impact marketing organization…that will likely be faster.