The agile approach to marketing comes from software development. It is designed to be flexible, outcome drive and puts the customer at the centre of the process. This means you can provide more value for your customers and be able to adapt to change easily.
The approach is still in its infancy and being adapted and developed to suit the needs of different organisations. Here are the core principles of the agile marketing process.
Start with the customer experience
Putting the customers’ needs at the core of your marketing will result in you delivering exactly what your customers want. When customers get what they want they buy it! One way to ensure your customers are at the core is to create customer stories and involve customers in the process to discover who they are and what they want.
Customer stories can easily be formulated using the following template:
As a user… (who the user is i.e. a buyer, service user etc.)
I want … (what do they want i.e. not to wait more than 30 minute for my appointment)
So that …(what will this do for them i.e. it doesn’t take up my whole afternoon)
Customer stories keep marketing teams focused on what is important and create a framework for not taking on ad hoc things (also known as following bright shiny objects) that aren’t moving them to ward delivering what the customer wants.
Often it is the barriers to communication created by the hierarchy within a company and the silos between departments that complicates projects. In the Agile model, teams are cross functional, they sit together and communicate freely. This means ideas and thoughts are readily shared and people aren’t able to pursue their own agendas.
Cross functional teams are supported by a process known as the scrum – these are daily 10 minute stand up meetings (they are deliberately held with everyone standing up so that they happen rapidly and people don’t waste time because they get too comfortable sitting down). At the Scrum everyone in the team answers the same three questions:
What did you do yesterday?
What are you going to do today?
What blocks your progress?
Longer weekly scrum meetings also take place were more detailed analysis is carried out. In the scrum there is a bias toward action. That is doing something is always greater than doing nothing. So if blocks to action are identified the strategy is to negotiate to a yes. The ultimate decider if there is an impasse is to go back to the user stories and ask what do the users want, then take the course of action that moves the team closer to achieving it.
Build, model, learn
Agile uses a build, model, learn process which facilities rapid implementation of ideas. Under this process you start with your best guess for the solution rather than aiming for perfection – chasing perfection holds up progress. It is more productive to get your marketing campaigns out based on the users’ stories and then learn what works and what doesn’t by having your eyes and ears open to the world around you.
If you test repeatedly and then quickly implement the changes, you arrive at optimum solutions for customers faster than waiting until it is perfect before you begin. Within Agile is the idea of the Sprint which are small campaigns/project that run for just 2-4 weeks so it is much easier to revise things because you aren’t working to a ridged more traditional 12 month marketing plan.
Agile also promotes a no blame, no failure culture. Just because something didn’t go as planned it doesn’t mean someone has to fall on their sword. Agile aims to make marketing teams more productive by encouraging them to be adaptable to change and iterate quickly based on the learning.
The Agile marketing process is designed to make businesses more responsive to change. In today’s fast paced digital/ social media environment the “winners” are the brands that are able to convert their marketing activity on these dynamic platforms into paying customers. The Agile approach is designed to give you the flexibility required to get the best return from your marketing.