Taking an Agile approach to marketing can be incredibly powerful for businesses.
Marketers who have adopted the Agile methodology say the biggest benefits are improved work quality, faster release times, better team alignment, improved morale, additional visibility into projects, easier identification of roadblocks, and clearer divisions of labor.
Given all these advantages over traditional approaches, why haven’t more firms embraced Agile? The answer is simple: marketers say they just don’t understand it well enough.
This confusion is understandable. Explanations of Agile Marketing are often filled with opaque terms (scrums, Kanban framework, etc.) that make the approach seem complicated and daunting.
However, at its core Agile is actually fairly straightforward. Fundamentally, it is an approach borrowed from software development which emphasizes speed, flexibility, measurement, and experimentation over institutional rigidity, lengthy timeframes, big launches, and set outcomes.
That all sounds good, of course, but what does it actually mean? How can your business transition to Agile and reap the full benefits of the approach? There are countless tactics and systems which can be adopted as part of Agile Marketing, but at its core the shift involves taking these four key steps:
Embrace the Mindset and Set Clear Goals
More than anything else, Agile Marketing is a way of thinking. It is about firmly and consistently prioritizing quickness, collaboration, and iteration across your organization.
For your business to succeed with Agile is it essential for each employee to understand the tenets of the approach. Leaders must clearly convey that the usual way of doing business is different from this mindset, and outline how certain behaviors (teamwork, risk-taking, speed, willingness to embrace/abandon ideas, etc.) will be highly valued.
Beyond establishing an Agile culture, it is also important to give just enough structure. This means clearly setting goals then giving teams leeway to find the best solutions and adapt to changing market conditions.
Set Up the Right Team and Work Structure
After you’ve established the culture and goals, the next step is to structure your organization in a way that fits well with an Agile approach.
This has a couple elements. First, Agile teams tend to be most successful when they’re nimble and empowered. That means keeping working groups small and ensuring that efforts are not held back by other parts of the business (for example long legal reviews or leadership approvals).
Also, ensure that someone familiar with Agile (often a “scrummaster”) will be shepherding things along so that the entire process — from ideation to testing and iteration — is kept on track.
In addition to team structure, it’s also important to establish your overall Agile work methodology. There are a number of different approaches that you can take here, with the most well-known being the Scrum framework (elements include projects tackled in quick sprints, daily stand-up meetings, visualized to-do lists, and structured review sessions).
Take some time to understand these various workflows and adopt the elements which best suit your business.
Build a Strong, Integrated Technology Foundation
Before you dive in fully into Agile Marketing there’s one more foundational element that must be set-up: your technology.
At its core Agile is about quickly creating something, testing it, improving it, and then starting the process again. The only way to do that successfully is to have technology systems in place that allow you to rapidly prototype, measure, iterate, and re-launch.
The specific elements you’ll need will depend on your business and marketing projects. However, some common platforms used by Agile marketers include analytics suites, A/B testing tools, project management software, and issue/bug tracking managers.
Again, the key with the systems you use for Agile marketing — many of which you may have in place already — is speed and integration. Everything must work together in a way that allows for quick development, measurement, and improvement.
Launch, Measure, Dissect, and Iterate
Once your teams and technology are properly set-up it is time to finally have some fun.
An Agile Marketing approach that’s properly structured should feel liberating. Rather than having to endure endless strategy sessions, budget forecasts, and project planning meetings, your team should be able to quickly execute and evaluate.
The secret to Agile, the thing that makes it so powerful, is this freedom. By embracing the idea that you are better off getting something out to be tested now — rather than waiting to get it perfect later — you can radically accelerate the speed and flexibility of your marketing efforts.
Given that, if you want to truly master Agile, you need to fully embrace the process. For example, if you want to improve conversions on a website landing page then quickly develop a few options, launch them, measure results, analyze performance, and adapt. If some elements aren’t working then abandon them without mercy (failure is an essential component) and for those elements that have potential keep iterating and iterating with new versions.
Ultimately, it’s this combination of culture, structure, and process that are at the root of Agile Marketing success. Getting each right takes some time and effort in the short run, but the long run mastering them will your marketing efforts faster, more flexible, and more effective.