Marketing is a process blade of a Disciplined Agile Enterprise (DAE). The raison d’être for Marketing, sometimes called brand management, is to ensure successful interactions between your organization and the outside world. Your Marketing efforts will represent your organization and your offerings, both products and services, to the outside world and conversely will represent customers, and potential customers, to the rest of the organization. In conjunction with Product Management, Marketing will be actively involved with long-term visioning for your organization’s offerings.
A good definition of Agile Marketing comes from McKinsey – “[Agile marketing] means using data and analytics to continuously source promising opportunities or solutions to problems in real time, deploying tests quickly, evaluating the results, and rapidly iterating. At scale, a high-functioning agile marketing organization can run hundreds of campaigns simultaneously and multiple new ideas every week.” The Agile Marketing Manifesto, first developed in 2012, also provides significant insights about how to apply an agile approach to your marketing efforts. This includes taking a validated learning approach, being customer focused, working in a collaborative and flexible manner, and working in an evolutionary (iterative and incremental) manner.
Our experience from working with dozens of organizations worldwide is that Marketing by its very nature tends to be agile and that most organizations find they just need to make a few improvements to their current approach. These changes potentially include:
- Sell the sizzle, not the steak. This is an old marketing adage that is particularly pertinent for DAEs. You want to move away from marketing products and features, both of which may have very short lifecycles in today’s marketplace, and towards campaigns built on brand and the benefits provided by your offerings. For example, many car advertisements on television focus on how you can get out into the wilderness and enjoy life, or go to the beach to surf, or go out with your friends. They may tell you a few key facts such as gas mileage or horsepower, but they never go into details about the gearing of the transmission, the size of the gas tank, or the cleaning capability of the windshield wipers.
- Prefer marketplace experiments over focus groups. Taking a validated learning approach with test campaigns and then quantifying the impact has been common practice within marketing for years. Your goal is to use sophisticated experiments to measure the overall impact of your marketing strategies and then apply these insights to improving both your offerings and the marketing of those offerings.
- Market marketing. Many marketing teams find that they need to market themselves to the rest of the organization, particularly to the IT delivery teams to whom marketers are a key stakeholder. Your marketing efforts must be fully integrated into the value stream teams that they support.
- Customer discovery over static prediction. This is one of the values of the Agile Marketing Manifesto, promoting the observation that you must observe and interact with your (potential) customers to determine what they want. Traditional marketing strategies involve far too much detailed guessing or prediction of what people want, increasing both the cost of delay and the risk of missing the mark entirely.
- Gain insights through targeted analytics. In addition to the insights provided by validated learning you also want to leverage the wealth of information provided by analytics. You want to integrate data generated in-house with acquired data from external sources (often the result of “big data” analytics). The aim of these insights should be to identify anomalies, pain points, issues, or customer opportunities. Better yet, use predictive analytics to identify the potentially most profitable customers through analysis of the lifecycle of customer purchases and behavior. It’s important to note that your existing marketing campaigns, such as your loyalty program, can be important sources of data. Similarly, marketing via social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn will also produce a wealth of information about customer behaviors.
- Provide stakeholders to IT delivery teams. Your marketing team can be a critical source of stakeholders for IT teams, including themselves, actual customers, and perhaps even potential customers. Active stakeholder participation is vital to the success of IT solution delivery.