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What Does Agile Marketing Mean to Today’s Organizations?

Posted By: SGK March 09, 2020
agile marketing

This blog post has been contributed by Carrie Golvash, Director Client Solutions, SGK

At the root, Agile Marketing is described as an adaptable and flexible framework to streamline workflows, improve collaboration, and enable work to get done more efficiently. It was inspired and adapted from the software development world. However, where organizations get tripped up are that they want the process to go faster but they are still working under legacy processes. These legacy processes do not instill collaboration or offer the ability to assess reward versus risk for operating in a new “agile” way. Organizations also think that agile means being very flexible--often frantically so—which has a very disruptive effect on their suppliers and supply chain partners.

This drive to leverage Agile Marketing is a clear response to the changing consumer landscape, fragmented marketing ecosystem and digital transformation that brands and business are experiencing. Their inherent wish is to capitalize on changing consumer demands and insights around their product and services. Yet, they struggle with mobilizing their organization and interpret Agile Marketing as a way to drive their team to work harder and faster, not smarter causing unnecessary churn and disruption to the process.

One of the most effective ways Agile Marketing can work comes to life in the “war room” concept. This methodology fosters and nurtures collaboration and empowers decision-making within a small group of cross-functional team members. This cross-functional team has a dedicated huddle room or hub that brings them together to build out their strategic plan and gives them the opportunity to provide real-time feedback and learning. It is a great way for teams to tackle large strategic business growth initiatives centered around innovation and brand renovation. The “war room” concept gives the team data and insights to test, learn and adapt their go-to-market execution.

However, the “war room” concept tends to not be as sustainable for quick hit, one-off initiatives that don’t involve multiple functions. Agile Marketing can be applied differently to these business growth initiatives through the use of kanban, scrum and scrumban (a hybrid of kanban and scrum) methodologies. In the simplest terms, these are all ways to organize the work that needs done to execute the project in a thoughtful and efficient manner. These two to four weeks “sprints” give the team the opportunity analyze the data and evolve the marketing campaign message, product offering or project plan.

It also documents those key decision-making intersections and enables “sprint” like activities to be completed. The other benefit is the delegation of decision-making or empowerment to the team to make quick and timely decisions to respond to data or changing consumer dynamic. Some organizations call this “Front-line Management,” which seeks to bring decision-makers closer to the work in large corporations.

Another interesting trend is organizations that want Agile Marketing will acquire small entrepreneurial start-up companies to add to their portfolio from a growth perspective and not really know what to integrate them into the larger organization. They love the added revenue and organic growth but there is a missed opportunity to leverage and apply their best practices to the broader organization.  They keep them at bay as stand-alone operating systems or they make the mistake of trying to bring them into the mother ship and inherently destroy the culture that they so admired from a far.  There is a real need to observe and assess how those agile best practices could be instilled into a larger organization to streamline those legacy practices.

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As we think about the benefits of Agile Marketing, organizations must come to grips with the following tenets:

  • Respond to change over following a plan
  • Deploy rapid iterations for new ideas, products and projects
  • Utilize data and research over gut intuition
  • Launch many small experiments over a few large bets
  • Empower Individuals and interactions over one size fits all mentality
  • Spark collaboration over silos and hierarchy

If an organization can live by these tenets, they will succeed in the marketplace by meeting the ever-changing demands of consumers utilizing the power of Agile Marketing.

About Carrie Golvash: Carrie brings 20+ years of CPG expertise in agency management, brand design & launching new products into the marketplace. She is a certified Prosci change management practitioner.  She has had the pleasure to leading consulting initiatives across pharma, retail and consumer product good verticals, optimizing their workflows, roles and marketing eco-systems.