If you’ve been working at all in the world of marketing over the last few years, no doubt you’ve encountered the word “agile”. Lifted from the lexicons of manufacturing and technology, agile marketing is a philosophy of embracing the sheer volume of data, events and sometimes outright chaos that exists in the commons of business communication.
An agile marketer recognizes early, adapts quickly and prepares continually. In an increasingly interconnected global society, where a single comment or short video can “go viral” and become a major news story in a matter of hours, it is no longer enough to plan an annual campaign and spend months executing a battle plan. Your business and market are moving much, much faster than that. You need to be able to turn on a dime.
There are plenty of great books and other materials out there about implementing broad agile marketing programs. But what about those marketing departments that lack the luxuries of time, money and focus necessary to reinvent a whole new way of doing things?
As a copywriter, I have seen the demand for more agile marketing processes jump exponentially in recent years. Deadlines have gotten shorter. Rush projects are much more frequent. And more than anything else, no one has the time now for a long onboarding phase to master complex topics. Creative professionals must learn to hit the ground running, and to hit it hard.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the challenges in managing a successful marketing program in a complex, constantly changing environment? If so, try a few of these agile tactics that any pro can implement without major investments or opportunity cost risks.
Don’t build – instead, manage. This is absolutely critical. Is your department focused primarily on the construction of marketing collateral? Are you a brochure factory? While the creation of effective white papers, case studies, websites, presentations and other information and storytelling devices are very important to the success of any company, it is very easy to think of the job of marketing as merely the task of building products.
The catch there is that building takes time. Pressed by the tyranny of the urgent, important marketing projects often get delayed or completely derailed when the time comes to fight a new fire. And ultimately, far more useful projects are started than are finished and released to sales.
Consider a shift in perspective. Rather than considering the job of marketing as an assembly line, think of it as tending to a continual river of unexpected events. Prioritize the projects that help you manage those events and navigate your message through a constantly shifting media storm. Be an event manager rather than a brochure creator.
Take the shortest road to experience. Central to an agile marketing process is rapid prototyping: the steady creation of small scale, cheap, easy-to-evaluate models of larger efforts. If something is not going to work, better to know that on a $100 level than after a half-million dollar capital investment. Focus on getting something done and out the door that can then be changed, expanded upon and scaled up as you accumulate hard experience on what works and what doesn’t.
Social media in general is a great tool for rapid prototyping of marketing messages. A case study, written from the right perspective, can help test out the strength of value propositions, customer service processes and sales campaigns – and without a major investment. Even a whitepaper can be a relatively inexpensive tool for generating large amounts of market dynamics data. What matters most here is that you don’t wait until the conditions are perfect – create, manage, test, and create again.
By doing this, you will reduce your learning curves from months or even years to weeks and days. And when you identify a trend or idea that is about to catch on, you’ll be better prepared to move fast on it.
Embrace the 20% that leverages the 80%. In study after study, researchers have found that in nearly any organization or complex effort, a small portion of activity is typically responsible for a large majority of results. This is generally known as the Pareto Principle, an economic maxim that specifies that 80% of an investment’s return is the direct result of only 20% of invested input. As you evaluate your marketing programs for rapid prototyping potential, focus on those high-yield 20% efforts. Don’t spend months on efforts that will end up only having marginal utility.
Develop relationships with agile creatives. One of the major advantages that an outside creative – copywriter, graphic designer, etc. – can bring is the ability to turn quickly without the burden of internal company politics. Even so, consider a grounding in agile marketing to be a major credential for any outside creative professional being considered for your project.
Few marketing projects end as they began. Things happen, the wind shifts direction, and a successful marketing department must be able to quickly and successfully shift with them. When it comes time to start work on your next project, adopting agile marketing strategies can go a long way towards mitigating your risks that a random Internet blip will derail months of work. And by choosing your team carefully – with a healthy mix of in-house and outsourced assets, all familiar with agile methodology and practices – you can help ensure that your efforts will create the success they deserve.
Are you feeling overwhelmed by the backlog of marketing projects currently on your desk? Could you benefit from the help of an agile, experienced technical copywriter? If so, Load Bearing Creative looks forward to assisting with your marketing efforts. Visit us at www.loadcreative.com!