The Era of Agile Marketing:
Digital has transformed marketing. Marketing strategy needs to adapt and evolve with the digital ecosystem. According to a study conducted by Facebook and Deloitte, nearly half (46%) of marketers “don't believe they currently have the ability to manage unplanned change without it slowing them down.” This is a daunting statistic because if you cannot adapt to your competitive landscape, consumer trends, and market tendencies effectively, you are not competitive. In this blog, we are going to take a peek into how you can be an agile marketer, along with some challenges that might arise during the process.
Originally, Agile project methodologies come from the technology sphere and they seek to transform traditional business practices into adaptable response systems. These Agile methodologies set off a domino effect that has finally reached the marketing industry. In this new era, marketing is a work in progress. We are constantly forced to research, edit, and reorganize our strategies. Our campaigns are never final; they constantly require tweaking and adjustments.
The contemporary digital ecosystem is changing things faster than ever before. Suddenly, marketing campaigns are being jump-started at a moments notice. In a matter of seconds, with the tap of a finger, you can share news, opinions, or discoveries with the world. These day-to-day and even minute-to-minute changes are forcing marketers to be modern renaissance men and women with the tools necessary to adapt and evolve each day. The days of intricately planned campaigns prepared months or even years in advance are over. This has ushered in the true era of Agile Marketing. In order to fully understand how to be an agile marketer we we must first revisit the two main criteria from my first blog.
1) Agile Planning--having an agile or flexible marketing plan. Foreseeing potential challenges and pre-planning responses.
2) Agile Adjustments—being able to adapt in real time to changes in consumer trends, pop culture, and market tendencies.
If you can understand how to apply these two criteria and navigate around their challenges, you can harness the power of agility.
“Where do you see yourself in 10 minutes?”
A key aspect of the original Agile technology methodologies was planning. Agile planning better prepares you for unforeseen events. This includes predicting and proposing solutions to potential problems. For example, when you are driving a car and prepare to merge lanes, you are subconsciously practicing agile planning. If you merge lanes, and a car appears out of your blind spot, you don’t just continue to merge and hit the car. You access the situation, and in a couple of milliseconds, return to your lane. This is your agile planning, your alternative plan, in action. This idea works similarly with a marketing campaign. You may not be sure how your competition is going to launch a campaign, but if and when they do you should have the planning and resources to answer.
Companies are slowly trying to convert to this mentality. Recently, the bank brand Santander has adopted a “sprint” strategy that allows them to adjust and tweak their marketing campaigns on a weekly basis. According to HBR, going agile could make a marketing team up to 60% more effective. In an interview with Marketing Week, Santander said that they are, “looking to move the industry away from long buying and production cycles.” Agile planning forces you to look right in front of you and encourages marketers to be innovative and responsive.
One way to enact agile planning, is to amend your marketing budget. For example, if your marketing budget for the first quarter is $10 million then to be agile you would set a portion of that aside for agile activities. For the sake of this example, let’s say you decide to put aside 10% or $1 million. This liquid cash can then be used for agile purposes meaning anything that needs to be amended throughout the quarter. If one campaign is out performing others, you might want to launch the campaign on other platforms; or if the competition is targeting your target audience, then you can allocate your funds back to your target audience. Having these agile funds give you the power to make these types of game-time decisions. Essentially, agile planning is planning for the unplanned; it gives you leverage to adjust and fine-tune on the fly.
Agile planning is especially important in the contemporary digital ecosystem because of dark marketing™ tactics. As a reminder from my previous piece, dark marketing consists of highly targeted advertisements only visible to a specific target audience. Essentially, dark marketing allows marketers to launch campaigns behind the veil of the internet. On Apple’s Facebook page, you will not see a single advertisement even though they do advertise on Facebook. Take a peek at one of Apple’s dark Facebook posts we spotted here. The use of dark marketing tactics means that a competitor’s campaign could be well underway before you are even aware it exists. This makes a swift response even more vital. Once you have your agile planning in place, it is time to put your plans into action.
Real Time Marketing
In order to foster your agile adjustment, you must be a real time marketer. Being a real time marketer means capitalizing on consumer trends, changes in pop culture, and market tendencies at just a moments notice. Thanks to social media, user connectivity is easier than ever before. You can respond to industry changes in an instant and share it with all your followers. During the U.S. presidential debates, fact checking and word usage were common themes. Miriam-Webster’s Dictionary used this to their advantage. They were meticulously monitoring the Trump-Clinton debates for words and phrases that didn’t make sense. When Trump said “braggadocios,” Miriam-Webster’s replied with a lighting-fast tweet reading, “He was trying for braggadocio” along with their definition of the word. When asked in an interview how quickly they pulled off their tweets, Miriam-Webster’s replied, “within a minute of the comment.” This is what it means to be a real time marketer; this is what agile looks like. Having the proper agile mentality is a powerful stride in the right direction; however, you need authority and authorization from your superiors to bring these agile responses to life.
Having an agile leadership is something many businesses oversee. The Facebook and Deloitte study found that 51% of marketing organizations are, “constrained by traditional hierarchies…” If a marketer is going to be agile that person must have the authority to launch, adjust, or cancel campaigns quickly. Often times executives, who like having a firm grip over the company, are unwilling to give their employees this level of autonomy. UK-based marketing intelligence firm Creativebrief found that “72% of brands believe that agency structures are not developing at the same rate as a brand’s needs.” This is at a great cost. In the digital ecosystem, a window of opportunity can open and close on an hourly basis. If you spend time pitching and preparing proposals, your response is no longer agile and the window of opportunity will close.
Being an agile marketer is vital for keeping a competitive edge in your industry. Having an agile plan prepares your team for unforeseen changes in the market and gives you flexibility. Furthermore, having an agile business model will increase your bottom line and help you reach your KPIs. Agile is the model of the future. Are you ready to adjust?
While changes in technology have made it harder than ever to predict your competition’s movements, new marketing intelligence software offered by BrandTotal allows you to fluidly combat these threats. BrandTotal is marketing’s first command center, it spots threats and pinpoints opportunities for effective agile responses. We give you the power to be agile.
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Stay tuned for the next installment in our Agile Marketing Manual