Agile marketing can be your enabler of opportunity

Where is the biggest bang for buck? Some would say the answer is more selling. Others might say new martech. A few would pine for some more marketing budget. All of these may have an impact and perhaps all have been tried before or are in action today. But what if we took a completely different strategic approach? What if we took the agility shown in sales applied to marketing too? Read on to find out more.

Agile excellence

Not all marketers think in terms of process. This can be a limiting factor within organisations where complexity abounds. It can also wear thin as processes, procedures and deadlines mount. But all is not lost. In general, the average B2B marketer leans more towards process, and that’s precisely why we see so much buzz around marketing operations. It could feel like there are less roles open for the more creative and innovative B2B marketer. Enter agile marketing.

Where most support functions focus on completing a series of tasks in an orderly fashion, agile marketing breaks all the rules; here is a methodology for rapid response to external opportunities, dynamic internal collaboration and, most importantly, a way to deliver value quickly. Sounds exciting? Who doesn’t like short-term initiatives with positive results? By all means call them the troubleshooters, the dynamos or the go-getters, but agile teams will get things done.

Doing things differently

Agile marketing means collaborating to rapidly design, test and evaluate solutions that deliver more value to the customer and the bottom line. Agile is strategically focused on the needs of customers. The better we are at monitoring our external performance, the easier it is to spot opportunities to chase after. Once we know how to identify these opportunities, we need senior stakeholder buy-in to rapidly pull together internal teams to solve the problem.

Tools such as Trello are a great example of the kinds of technologies that support agile. Kanban boards help you to track and prioritise work at an individual or team level, which is ideal when incubating a number of ideas. After all, agile is very much about working on lots of smaller, cross-functional initiatives to deliver real improvements in customer value as quickly as possible.

Some people may have heard of a ‘scrum’ and ‘sprints’ in organisational parlance. Scrums are a looser and more iterative way of organising teams to work on a complex project in short timescales, rather than focusing on a linear approach. This requires breaking work down into goals and completing them within a limited time - what’s known as a sprint. The teams are typically small and meet regularly to collaborate, perhaps on a daily basis.

Understanding the need for agility

Agile marketing borrows heavily from agile methodologies. It typically uses kanban and scrum for agile delivery and project organisation. But why is this needed in B2B? The answer is threefold:

  1. We miss opportunities because we don’t react fast enough.
  2. We want to improve the experience and value offered to customers.
  3. We need to get things done.

On top of this is the challenge of working in the ‘Amazon Prime era’ where consumers want everything and anything at the touch of a button. That window of attention to catch a prospect and convert it into a sale is getting smaller, all while the length of the sales cycle is getting longer. Agile helps businesses to get that Amazon prime factor and with all the data and analytics at the disposal of marketing, they are ideally primed to capitalise. An urgent need and a short-term opportunity becomes something you can deliver on more of the time.

Don’t panic if you’re in sales

So, the sales function could be sceptical at this point. “The marketing function now wants to rush around working on customer initiatives rather than supporting us,” sales might be saying. Fortunately, that’s just plain wrong because agile marketing:

  • Knocks down barriers to sales by removing buyer problems.
  • Creates happier customers who are open to cross-sell and upsell.
  • Unlocks value quickly to give new features, developments and products to sell.

It sounds like a slam dunk then. Those marketers who are a little less enthused by process might like the buzz around the short-term initiatives and sprint goals. Crucially, with the focus on the customer, value is delivered directly where it matters most. And sales? Well, you get marketers that deliver value that removes barriers to selling so that sounds like a win-win.

Try it, you might like it

As a mindset, a methodology and a microcosm for complex projects, agile helps you to get things done with small, agile and multi-disciplinary teams. Customers should notice the extra value and marketers can contribute to customer lifetime value and sales will convert more value. The explosion in collaboration tools isn’t just because of homeworking, it was coming long before that to unlock more organisational value. Eureka! We might just have the tools at our disposal already and we can even meet occasionally in the office if we want.

So, what have you got to lose? Talk to your manager or the rest of the board and pilot some small working groups with the skills to deliver on a small subset of initiatives. Put simply, take a leaf out of the agile playbook and identify some small bites, some key players and monitor the output. Once you have it down, more successful initiatives will be unearthed and developed before you can say ‘agile’.

Want to find out a little more about agile marketing? Check out a related article on agile and how to get started.