I’ve been pondering the concept of agile marketing for a while now. Taylor Trusty, Leslie Radcliffe and I chatted about the topic on Blackstone Media’s podcast back in March. In fact, that podcast evolved into a Blackstone Media event where I’ll be giving a talk about agile marketing and what it means in today’s media environment on June 15. You should come!
Before you get worried, know that agile marketing isn’t some dumb-fangled philosophy you have to study to understand. At its core, agile marketing is ability to be nimble and shift with the various ebbs and flows of your audience, the market and even news of the day as it affects you or your communications.
But it is based on agile software development, which has some distinctive features. Agile is about focusing on high-value projects, not everything all at once. It’s about short sprints to get the ball a few yards down the field rather than focusing on one, big project to score a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. It’s about letting your feedback loops and data decide which sprint is next and what direction its going in, rather than having the CEO or product manager choose an arbitrary schedule.
Agile marketing is focused on being faster, adaptive and perhaps even more predictable with the marketing work you do. It requires constant data analysis and even pivoting for campaigns, messaging, targeting and more, based on what the data says. It requires drawing lines in the sand about what you will work on and what you won’t, and sticking to it.
Honestly, it’s a fantastic prioritization structure and helps you constantly move toward your greater goals rather than falling into the day-to-day grind of maintaining projects instead of moving them off your plate.
How Can Small Businesses Leverage Agile Marketing?
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you have seen a rudimentary piece of advice I’ve given on agile marketing before. Remember the 5% Method to Optimize Your Small Business Marketing? That’s a step toward agile marketing. That method has you make a list of all your projects, prioritize them, then cut the bottom 5%. Just stop doing them. Focus your energies and resources from them on the top five to make them better.
Agile marketing revolves around the same idea. Pick the most impactful projects you have in the hopper for your marketing. Now concentrate on doing the next 2-3 things you need to do to pull those off this week. Gather your team or thoughts at the end of the week and see how far you got. Next week, focus on the next 2-3 things and so on until that project is done.
Then move to the next project.
If you have a few people or teams, put one group on one project, another on a second. But make the next week’s work not about finishing the project, but just checking off the next few steps. Hold yourself and your team accountable for getting those steps done on your week’s end deadline. Then rinse and repeat with the next steps next week.
Ramp Up Agile Marketing With Data
Once you have the work behavior in place, now focus on using data to make your decisions. Building a new campaign, launch some highly targeted, dark Facebook ads with your main campaign messaging. Use the click through and conversion rates on that small sample and compare against your previous campaigns. Change and iterate from there before you launch the full scale campaign.
This is what it means to be agile. You’re using data in those short sprints to inform how you build the greater thing so that when it launches, the finished product is far better than if you’d stuck to the original plan alone.
It’s All in the Teamwork
Agile marketing is best accomplished when you have a team working together on the project at hand. Your team works together, communicates regularly and holds each other accountable for the short sprint goals. As each sprint is accomplished, the greater project goal gets closer and closer.
Make sure you plan for that collaboration. Hold daily “stand-up” meetings for project updates. The idea behind a “stand-up” meeting is that everyone stands up. The meeting can’t be so long any one would want to sit down. Go through each person asking for a quick update on where they are, what they need to get their next task done and if any other hurdles lay ahead to do so. If anyone needs help, assign it right then and there.
If you don’t have a team, make your own project check-in at the beginning or end of each day. List the things you need to get the next task done and who you need them from. Then make that outreach your next task.
What Do You Think?
You’re the expert on your business. What do you think you need to do in order to apply agile marketing principles in your business? Have you tried them or versions of them before? What worked and what didn’t?
Jump into the comments and tell me about your agile marketing experiences, questions or concerns. This approach to marketing is proving successful for many small businesses. Why not add your case study to the list today?