All around us, organizations are building marketing strategies. But how many of those put together a strategy that is responsive to change? And do they really live that strategy?
Building and living a marketing strategy is a complex process and requires far more than a blog post of attention. There are a few simple principles however that agile marketeers can always live by. These three principles are at the heart of making a marketing strategy alive and agile. I have included a ‘diagnostic’ quote to illustrate each: if people in your organization speak those words, you have an opportunity to become more agile.
- Reinvent your role: own, don’t manage
“I am running around the organization to keep my projects on schedule, and people don’t even notice.”
In their drive to help an organization, marketeers and marketing resources are often spread out widely among projects and issues. Marketeers will hold different roles, such as project manager or campaign manager, and have to find their own way of keeping everyone involved and happy. They will convince, lobby and drag people around to get (campaign) results delivered on time.
An agile marketing strategy is something you want to own, not manage. That means that as a marketeer, you can reinvent your role and be responsible for:
- Developing a creative vision
- Strategic dialogue with the business
- Developing insights into customers and their behavior
- Creating the conditions for project execution
Coworkers need to get used to marketeers not being preoccupied with operational hassle; in the end, it will give these colleagues greater autonomy and enable them to organize their work themselves in line with your marketing strategy.
- Define and share success
“All that marketing stuff… How do we even know that it works?”
Often marketing is seen as a cost center, and CMOs are busy accounting or trying to account for their expenses. They do show results, but these can very well be circumstantial, dependent on others in the organization or simply unexpected in light of the strategy that was laid out in the first place. An agile marketing strategy is both flexible and well-defined, enabling marketeers to show results in short cycles and keep the strategic dialogue going.
A practical way to set and adjust goals in a marketing strategy is the Definition of Success. It was coined by the agile marketeers at Boardview, and basically helps you to define a marketing goal in one sentence. All goals are then linked to each other and prioritized. Moreover, you co-create and share these goals with stakeholders and redefine goals at set intervals. As you go along, you add the intermediary results to these goals and become accountable in real time.
- Sprint and learn
“Why do I find myself stuck in this campaign, after all that happened this week?”
The reasons to change your strategy and execution can be diverse: from a sudden PR disaster to shifts in customer behavior and new possibilities for marketing automation. However, when you are all-in on a number of projects that are hard to rein in, you will miss a chance to change. Instead, you want to be able to iterate and learn.
This is why sprints are a central concept in organizing agile: they provide a set cadence for learning. A sprint helps you to see the bigger strategy through the lens of the last week or two. So no matter how ambitious a certain goal is, you will have to evaluate it after every sprint and be able to change course.
Also, sprints force you to slice projects into smaller chunks and thus reduce risks. In that way you will end up with what the Agile Marketing Manifesto calls ‘many small experiments over a few large bets:’ http://agilemarketingmanifesto.org/.
From principles to change
Now these principles are far reaching and necessitate organizational change. For an agile marketing strategy needs an agile organization. There are plenty of opportunities to get started, though. The next time your marketing colleagues draft a plan, you can help them with the Definition of Success. When a new big campaign is orchestrated you can suggest to carve it up. And when you are being dragged into a project manager role, keep distance.
Want to continue this discussion on Agile Marketing? Feel free to contact me at email@example.com