Agile Marketing improves the speed, predictability, transparency, and adaptability of the marketing function. It applies an iterative process based on short marketing experiments, frequent feedback, and the ability to react to changing market conditions.
What is Agile Marketing?
Agile Marketing is an approach to marketing inspired by the Agile approach used in software development. Like the software approach, Agile Marketing emphasizes iterative processes, collaboration, self-organization, and a client centric philosophy. It is based on a series of values and principles and a working method or framework to evaluate the practice of such principles.
There is no one way to implement Agile Marketing, just as there is no single way to implement Agility in software development.
The Agile Marketing Manifesto
The Agile Marketing Manifesto has its origins in the first forum of Agile Marketing professionals who gathered in San Francisco on June 11, 2012. Among those gathered were Jim Ewel and John Cass. Ewel and Cass wrote the manifesto that proposed a series of values originating from the Manifesto for Agile Software Development and additional manifests published in other media by various authors.
The seven values that make up the Agile Marketing Manifesto are the following:
- Validated learning over opinions and conventions.
- Customer focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy.
- Adaptive and iterative campaigns over ‘Big Bang’ campaigns.
- The process of customer discovery over static prediction.
- Flexible vs rigid planning.
- Responding to change over following a plan.
- Many small experiments over a few large bets.
Let’s see their meaning:
1. Validated learning over opinions and conventions:
Validating learning is learning through a feedback cycle: implement, measure, and learn, not through the opinions of those who know more, or think they know through conventional wisdom about the subject. In this sense, empiricism, the knowledge coming from ones own experience, is fundamental.
2. Customer focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy:
Collaboration that is focused on the clients’ needs produces a better result than isolated decisions, territorial wars between departments, or strict adherence to a hierarchical decision-making process.
3. Adaptive and iterative campaigns over ‘Big Bang’ campaigns:
A non-linear and adaptive approach to the market is preferable, which implies starting with a small strategy and implementing it quickly to learn from the success or failure of that strategy and then adjusting it to continue learning. This approach is superior to following the conventional process of generating whole campaigns that, once set in motion in many cases, do not produce the expected results and have to be justified with metrics designed to cover the errors. Basically, it is better to market little by little, keeping in mind that if something does not work, it can be changed.
4. The process of customer discovery over static prediction:
Clients do not always act predictably. Marketing is an act of constant customer discovery. Understanding customers is hard work, requires respect for the client, and is a consistent commitment.
5. Flexible vs rigid planning:
Although many believe that Agile environments are not planned, this is not true. Planning is not bad but the plans must be adaptable to changing conditions. As President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” In this regard, marketing is like war; just as battle plans do not survive when they are executed on the battle ground, no marketing plan survives when it is executed in the market. The only constant is change.
6. Responding to change over following a plan:
This value comes from the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, and it means that since we do not know in advance what is going to happen, instead of following a set plan step by step, we use an adaptive cycle based on the response to change.
7. Many small experiments over a few large bets:
This is, without a doubt, the best way to know what is the right course of action for a marketing program. Remember that we are working with hypotheses; the only reality is constant change. The advantage is that today virtually everything is measurable so we can analyze information as it develops and then determine the best option.
A 2018 State of Agile Marketing Report found that 36.7% of marketers report that they have adopted some flavor of agile marketing. And out of the marketers who haven’t yet adopted Agile, around half of them expect to within the next 12 months.