Sunday, September 21, 2014

How Agile Marketing Improves Business Performance

Most marketers now recognize that flexibility, adaptability, and responsiveness have become critical attributes of successful marketing. The interests, values, and communications preferences of today's buyers can all change rapidly, and marketers must always be prepared to deal with a competitive environment that's constantly evolving.

Marketers no longer have the luxury to spend months crafting large marketing campaigns and programs that are designed to run for weeks or months. In today's fast-paced, always-on marketing environment, marketers must be able to produce on the fly, and continuously adapt their marketing tactics and content to changing competitive conditions.

The demand for more adaptable and responsive marketing has given birth to a new marketing discipline that's known appropriately as agile marketing. Agile marketing is derived from agile software development. It's based on several principles, but the primary focus is on rapid prototyping, small-scale experimentation, and breaking marketing activities into small tasks that can be completed in a relatively short period of time (a week or a few weeks at most).

Over the past couple of years, a growing number of companies have implemented agile marketing in some form, and recent research has demonstrated that agile marketing produces significant benefits. For example, CMG Partners recently released the results of a qualitative survey that involved interviews with more than 40 CMO's, other marketing leaders, and agile marketing experts. The survey included both respondents from companies that had implemented agile marketing ("agile users") and respondents that had not yet adopted agile marketing ("non-users").

The results of the CMG Partners research clearly show that agile marketing drives improved business performance. For example:

  • 88% of non-users said that improving speed to market is a priority, while 93% of agile users said that adopting agile marketing had helped them to improve time to market (in terms of ideas, products, or marketing campaigns).
  • 91% of non-users said that being able to change direction more quickly and effectively is a priority, while 93% of agile users said that agile marketing helped them to change marketing messages and tactics more quickly and effectively.
  • 96% of non-users said that improving the productivity of their marketing team is a priority, while 87% of agile users said that implementing agile marketing had made their team more productive.
Some readers may wonder whether agile marketing is compatible with a longer-term strategic approach to marketing. Given the focus on short-term projects, small-scale experiments, and the use of feedback loops to drive frequent iterations of marketing programs, it would be easy to conclude that agile marketing eliminates the need for (or at least diminishes the value of) marketing strategy.

This is an important issue that I'll address in a future post. For now, let me just say that a well-conceived marketing strategy is critical for effective agile marketing because the strategy provides the essential context for agile marketing activities.

What's not open to debate is that marketing must be flexible and adaptable to succeed in today's volatile environment.

For a great introduction to agile marketing, take a look at this presentation made by Scott Brinker, a co-founder and the CTO of ion interactive, inc. Scott is also the author and editor of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, which I strongly recommend that you read regularly.

For more about the CMG Partners research, read this article at Forbes.

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