Devices, technology, mass media and the modern human attention span means that the world is ever-changing. But, why is this such a big deal for B2B marketers? Well, by the time you’ve planned to react to the latest news or industry developments, they’ve already changed again and you’re left out in the cold and out of touch. Traditionally, marketing has been about best-practise planning and implementation, which is still valid today. However, its lack of fluidity means that in many instances, it’s simply unable to react quickly enough to the changing landscape. The fact of the matter is that in order for marketers to keep up and continue generating results, a paradigm shift is needed. So what’s the solution? The answer is agile marketing.
What is agile marketing?
Agile marketing is about understanding the limitations of traditional strategies and instead using real-time and reactive means to gain results, gather intelligence, and inform future campaigns. A key feature of this new approach is ‘sprints’. These are short-term burst of activity where multiple ideas are generated, prioritised, and then delegated to in-house teams. From here, the teams can then use the most suitable channels and approaches to get the required results. Notably though, these sprints are not limited to best-practise guides, so much more reactive tactics can be used (for example, piggy-backing on social media hashtags). As this is likely to be uncharted territory for many marketing leaders, it’s worth remembering that this is a step away from tradition, so an element of control should be relinquished to the marketing teams on the front line.
KPIs, results, and collaboration
The goals and objectives for this type of marketing need to push existing boundaries. So, set tough KPIs such as doubling the number of leads generated within a certain period of time. More importantly, continue to analyse results and findings almost constantly. Unlike traditional marketing where results are measured at the end of the campaign, agile marketing is based on the latest, up-to-the-minute info and must be able to change rapidly. With this type of ‘sprint’ marketing, every piece of information matters. So when it comes to reviewing data, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Just because the initial KPIs were not met, still ask; what was achieved? What findings were uncovered? What can be amended and used again in future? Having identified the valuable information from the sprint, it’s vitally important that it is then shared throughout the marketing department. Everyone should be able to learn from each other’s activity, but this is only possible when the data is shared. By sharing examples of success and valuable findings, these can then be used in future agile sprints and also more traditional strategies. Breed a culture of collaboration.
Ashley Friedlin, Founder of Econsultancy, has recently suggested that the relationship between marketing as we know it and agile marketing should be a ratio of 70-20-10.
This breaks down as 70% ‘planned’ marketing, 20% machine-driven marketing (automation), and 10% entirely agile. This makes sense simply because we will always need to have comprehensive marketing strategies and plans, however this can be improved by the inclusion of agile techniques. Although only a small part of marketing will be agile, the findings will help to inform the much larger planned campaigns. Obviously there are no ratio police who will reprimand you for doing too much or too little agile marketing, but 70-20-10 is a good rule of thumb. If you’re unsure about how much of each strategy you are using… review your budget and spending.
A great example
Remember the 2013 SuperBowl game when there was a 34-minute power-cut? Well if you don’t, the entire stadium was plunged into darkness for the duration of the power outage. Within minutes, the American biscuit manufacturer Oreo posted, “Power Out? No problem”. The Tweet was accompanied with a starkly-lit image of a solitary Oreo and the caption, “You can still dunk in the dark.” The post captured the public’s attention and over the following hours it received nearly 15,000 retweets and more than 20,000 likes on Facebook.
So how were Oreo able to be so reactive and agile? The answer is, they had a social media team of 15 experts ready to react on social networks to whatever happened during the game. It just so happens that this Superbowl was subject to a blackout and they were on hand and ready to pounce. In addition to the social media team, they also had copywriters, a strategist, and artists ready to react to any situation in 10 minutes or less.
The outcome of this example is that without a plan in place, a team of marketers were able to react in real-time to a mass media story and ultimately attract as much attention as the game itself – agile marketing in action!