Agile Marketing

Agile marketing is the approach in which you adapt your marketing to the ever changing customer and the respons from this customer to your marketing activities.

Short-term marketing

Since a lot of marketing plans and strategic roadmaps are designed a year (or even more) in advance, it’s hard to respond to consumer behaviours.  Budget are allocated an releases are planned.  The disadvantage is that for example a new channel like Periscope or new features on Facebook are harder to implement in this plan.

Marketing managers (CMO) are often evaluated on a yearly basis, they tend to fix their KPI’s before the beginning of a new fiscal year, leaving less room for flexibility.  But Agile marketing allows them to respond more flexible and increase the short-term productivity.

This short-term marketing approach has an impact on the team-structure and the budget-splits.  Marketing teams have to be able to up the speed of publishing and they have to keep track of budget spends more closely.

Long-term strategy

While we encourage marketing teams to limit their marketing plans in time, we urge marketing teams to extend their strategic plans.  Often they are linked together, forcing marketing managers into making decisions that are good for the sales target, but bad for the brand stability.

Agile marketing works best with an environment that clearly lays out the playground to work in.  A clear tone-of-voice, clear long-term KPI’s, a growth-path, a content- and a channel-strategy are key when trying to set up an agile marketing approach.

Having set up these guidelines allows everyone to respond quickly to emerging trends and customer behaviour.  It’s a manual that’ll help you determine how to respond in each situation.

Although it’s often easier for marketing managers to operate on a year-to-year basis that ensures their bonus, this is not the best approach for a brand.

Data-driven Marketing

While agile marketing responds to trends, behaviours and customers, it’s important to keep an eye on all of these aspects.  A data-driven approach is key to success.  It allows the teams to prioritise and make quick decisions.  A data-driven approach often risks to become boring and not creative. But focussing on the right data, allows creative directors to be very flexible and focussed at the same time.

The data is needed in combination with a strong long-term strategy to overcome confusion and inconsistency that might come from the fast-paced approach of agile marketing.

Data-driven marketing often does not lead to awards and prices, but it does lead to a better brand- and customer-centered approach.  It will not create peaks in a brand’s growth, but it will ensure a steady growth.

Why now?

Since today we have all the data through a very broad range of tools available in the market we can take on this agile marketing approach without risking to become an unguided missile.

The market-playground is changing rapidly with new disruptive competitors popping up on a daily basis, so being ready to respond is key.  Waiting for these newcomers to go away again might be the worst approach ever, while some of them are agile in the core and adapt to changes more quickly than you. (e.g. Zalando is challenging the clothing business is such a way that old-school shops are too late to respond.)

Real-time marketing is one of the workflows that fits in the agile marketing approach and social/digital media are key in this process.

Kristof Drossaert

Digital Strategist