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A Brief Commentary on Agile Marketing

Way back in 2012 a group of intrepid marketers got together to forge the agile marketing manifesto. Is that a little too dramatic? In all seriousness, agile marketing was bred in organizations (mostly SaaS companies) where agile was being used for development. A few observant marketers noticed that development and marketing basically did the same thing, but in different ways. See, developers build products for the same audience as marketers do, albeit with different intents. Marketers target the audience when they’re buyers (mostly) and developers when they’re users. You see where this is going?

Agile marketing is just good marketing with an operational framework to follow. I don’t mean agile marketing is instantly better, I mean the things that good marketers have done for years are key values for agile marketers. Two very important values being:

  • Knowing your buyer like crazy
  • Set goals to measure against

Out of the 7 agile marketing values I feel these two are the most important. One, it puts the buyer front and center, and two, it forces marketers to set goals before they kick off a program and determine what success looks like. Pretty important in an era of increased pressure for marketing to perform and track that performance.

Part II

Another point I want to make is this; just because it’s agile, doesn’t mean it’s not rooted in bigger, longer term strategies and constraints. If growing purple widget sales by 10% is a strategy for growth, then marketing should tie it’s activities to fulfill this strategy.

Constraints are also important, the most obvious being a yearly budget that requires thought and planning. Budgets are the most likely area to cause friction with superiors in an agile shop. ┬áIn development, there really isn’t a monetary investment required outside of talent. In marketing, there is monetary investment which needs some planning and foresight. Laying out a budget with a clear “if something isn’t working, then we shift budget to something else and kill what didn’t work” subheading is an important piece of the pie.

Also, events often need to be paid for well in advance, however, the messaging or event plan won’t be done until it’s necessary. So, just because it’s ‘agile’ doesn’t mean it doesn’t tie to longer term strategies or constraints. Whew.

Part III

Encourage and promote a culture of adaptation

The operational mindset of agile marketing teams is where they diverge from traditional (waterfall) teams. Here’s where I’ve seen the biggest differences:

  • Enabling the team to make decisions based on fact and not opinion creates a culture driven by metrics and success.
  • Organization of work and ability to adapt that work based on results or market factors fosters critical thinking.
  • Daily stand-ups give you and your team a good idea of what’s going on what needs to be done. Team-building and collaboration thrive.
  • Never, and I mean never, be afraid or bummed to kill a project you or your team has worked on. If you’re doing it right, killing something off is a good thing that allows for more time to work on higher-performing projects.

Again, encourage and promote a culture of adaptation. Getting lazy and sticking to programs that aren’t working is easy to do. Always know what success looks like and don’t be afraid to drop the dead weight.

Resources to help you get started down an agile marketing path:

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I'm a skier, hiker, biker and runner. In my free time I write about the world of marketing. I also started this company, but who cares.

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