Marketing in 2016 pretty much feels like a race where no one knows where they started from, where they are at the moment or where they’re going either. Ever since I was thrown into the role of being in charge of a startup’s marketing, things keep getting harder and harder. The market pressures you to release things fast. Your boss expects you to keep him updated everyday, no more locking yourself in your magical bubble for a week project. Under the circumstances, is there an effective way to achieve fast quality marketing today? (“Depressa e bem não há quem” is a portuguese saying which translates to “fast and well no one can”)
On the other hand, there are some individuals in the startup scene who don’t seem to realise that marketing planning is not an after thought. I see organisations releasing products without knowing exactly what they’re trying to solve, no mission statement or core values. Even corporate multinationals engage in the mindset of investing in social media because “everyone is doing it, it’s where our customers are”. SPOILER!!! Marketing-Morning-After Pill doesn’t really work. In Max Barry’s Syrup (1999) he says through one of the characters: <The only thing more dangerous than someone who doesn’t know marketing, is someone who thinks they know a little bit of marketing.> Obviously, there will be setbacks and unforeseen turmoil, but it doesn’t take away the value of planning. It just means the way we plan has to be different. Certainly your brand and strategy will appreciate it.
Agile Marketing is Cool, But Not As Simple As We Want It To Be
Something which seems to be on every tech entrepreneur’s head these days is Agile Marketing. It might be the answer we’re all looking for. I’ll be the first one to say it: I don’t know how to properly do agile marketing. The Agile Methodology is an alternative to the way projects and teams are managed traditionally, by acting real-time and quickly adapting according to results or unpredicted business changes. Agile allows you to act in the moment responding to worldwide news, events and attract people on newness and relevance. Being agile in business also relates to being “iterative” (“A computational procedure in which a cycle of operations is repeated, often to approximate the desired result more closely”) and “incremental” (“One of a series of regular additions or contributions”).
Considering today’s business context, being agile seems to make total sense. Wasting too much time and money on a product that fails when it is released for not actually being what people want or because it’s just not relevant anymore, is simply not acceptable.
Although I have mentioned startups quite a few times in this article already, Agile thinking is actually “widely adopted across a variety of industries, including media and technology, large corporates, and even government.” (Waters, 2007).
Econsultancy explains the rise of agile marketing is due to the importance given to social media and analytics today. These give us the ability to measure imput, improve and adapt our strategies (Ratcliff, 2015).
Once Upon a Time, Agile Appeared
In 1970, Dr. Winston Royce, a computer scientist, introduced the idea that software isn’t created in a sequential way as if it was a car. Applying this kind of industrial revolution mindset of doing things to software designing causes communication problems between teams. Does this ring any bells? In marketing we can generally translate this to problems delivering strategies from Marketing departments to IT, Design and Sales.
Agile project management means everything on a project can be questioned anytime. Royce defends being agile incurs less costs and less time-to-market as competitive advantages (because it is harder to change things when everything is already developed) (Royce, 1970).
How To Be Agile On The Long Term
Though Agile Marketing is usually related to real-time marketing, it can also apply to bigger projects and releases: Test the idea with early adopters, work alongside influencers and finally, release it to a broader audience. Basically, you are investing money to fail (and that is good) for the sake of validating your idea, receiving feedback and tweaking your solution alongside consumers. The latter is what YouTube has been doing for their Community feature. YouTube realised subscribers were sharing their love elsewhere (Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat). Therefore, according to “The Fault in Our Stars” author John Green, they decided to work on a Community tab (see vlogbrothers tab here) for channels which lets stars post in text form, images, GIFs and so on.
You Thought Marketing Was a Marathon. Apparently, You Do Have To Sprint Sometimes
From my description, you’re now deligted with Agile Marketing. However, doesn’t it also feel like it might get you even more busy and lost than ever? Well, what no one seems to be telling us about is the structured process real Agile professionals follow which makes us cope with the headaches I have mentioned. Here’s my simplified explanation:
- Sprint Planning Session (up to half a day)
Defining goals and responsabilities. Alignment of expectations between the different areas (usually business, sales and development).
2. Sprint Session (from 2 to 6 weeks)
A sprint is described by “short, finite periods of intensive work” (Fryrear, 2016). There are meetings everyday with co-workers sharing what has happened, problems encountered and future plans. A board is used to track the project’s progress.
If You Sprint, You Will Eventually Get Tired
The decision between agile or traditional thinking is generally a trade off between: i. Facilitation, measurability, priorirization, transparency; ii. Planning, controling, safe, perfection . So, it implies you can do both, you just have to manage and carefully align them with long-term vision. Unfortunately, in the marketing world there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy. Therefore, find what works for your business. Test the agile methodology before your consumers test your competitors.
Fryrear, A. (2016). What Is Agile Marketing? (And Why You Should Care). [online] Resources.workfront.com. Available at: https://resources.workfront.com/project-management-blog/what-is-agile-marketing-and-why-you-should-care [Accessed 23 Oct. 2016].
Ratcliff, C. (2015). What is agile marketing and why do you need it?. [online] Econsultancy. Available at: https://econsultancy.com/blog/65184-what-is-agile-marketing-and-why-do-you-need-it/ [Accessed 23 Oct. 2016].
Royce, W. (1970). Managing The Development of Large Software Systems. 1st ed. [ebook] pp.1–11. Available at: https://www.cs.umd.edu/class/spring2003/cmsc838p/Process/waterfall.pdf [Accessed 23 Oct. 2016].
Waters, K. (2007). What Is Agile? (10 Key Principles of Agile) | All About Agile. [online] Allaboutagile.com. Available at: http://www.allaboutagile.com/what-is-agile-10-key-principles/ [Accessed 23 Oct. 2016].