Agile marketing is a project management approach to the work of marketing. It is based on the agile software development process developed in the 1990s. The core concept of agile is to quickly create tangible results by being flexible and adaptive. Instead of writing up a big strategy and taking months to implement it, agile promotes running a lot of little experiments using the build-learn-adapt process.
Agile Software Development
Prior to agile, software development used a methodology called the Waterfall Process. In short, a large requirements document would be written do define a software project and then a development team would go off and create a piece of software to meet the requirements. The problem with this methodology is that it would often fail. The majority of software projects came in late and over budget. More importantly, when the project was finally finished, the requirements had often changed, and the software was unusable.
Agile software development was created to allow for feedback in the development process so that the requirements could change and adapt during the development process as the software was being created. The concept involves working in small ‘sprints’ which are 2 to 4 weeks long to create an interim version of the software. Feedback is then gathered from the product owner about the interim software and the requirements are modified as required. This ensures that the software is always aligned with the requirements during the development process so when the project is finished it is relevant to the market.
Agile marketing applies the concept of agile to the marketing department. The idea is to work in such a way that feedback from the marketing efforts are quickly incorporated into the ongoing planning and execution. By moving away from big bets that takes months to implement to many smaller bets, the cost of failure decreases and the ability to change direction to meet market demand is increases.
Agile marketing moves away from old school top-down command-and-control management and moves to a more democratic and adaptive structure. When properly implemented, agile marketing makes the marketing department more resilient and responsive to change while effectively managing its workload. Agile marketing also helps reduce stress and improves communication and morale of the marketing team.
Agile Marketing Values
In 2012, a forward-thinking group of marketers worked together to come up with the marketing version of the Agile Manifesto (which was written about software development). The idea was to establish an agreed-upon set of values and principles to guide marketers as they tried to adopt a more agile way of working.
According to the Agile Marketing Manifesto, agile marketers’ values are:
- 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.
Regardless of how you choose to implement agile in your marketing department, you should hold these values at the center of your effort.
There are a few different ways to implement an agile methodology. Two of the most popular are Scrum and Kanban although the majority of marketing departments use a hybrid methodology. Scrum and Kanban describe a set of meetings, tools, and roles that work in concert to help teams structure and manage their work.
For more information on Scrum, click here.
For more information on Kanban, click here.
At 1 Bold Step we believe an agile marketing department is better positioned to quickly react to today’s evolving marketplace. Contact us to learn more about how agile can benefit your marketing department.
1 Bold Step is a marketing operations consultant that can help you with agile marketing. (read about the 4 types of marketing consultants here.)