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Agile marketing hysteria

Just home from the MarTech 2016 conference in London and one key take away is that EVERYONE is talking about Agile Marketing – which truly was fantastic!

On the other hand, another important key take away was that almost no one seemed to have a clue what Agile Marketing actually is. So its perhaps a bit fairer to say that everyone was using the term “Agile” a lot – like a hot buzzword, adding it to whatever topic they were talking about, from strategy to content creation to marketing ops, rather than actually talking about it in a meaningful way.

Although I have to say that IMD professor Michael Wade stood out when he talked about digital disruption and how agile will affect the view on strategy development – very interesting and insightful! Click here for a summary of his publication Digital Vortex!

I think it’s fair to say that there is an Agile Marketing hysteria going on. And people seem to be in a state of panic. The common feeling is as if you don’t jump on to the Agile band wagon NOW, you’re as good as dead. And – don’t freak out now – it´s actually almost right. If you don’t at least begin to understand Agile and how it will impact the marketing discipline you will be left behind and possibly not even survive in the coming years.

What is Agile Marketing?

Agile is in its essence a philosophy and a set of related principles and practices that originally came from IT development. But Agile has evolved and can nowadays be applied to any part of an organization – also marketing. Agile fits like a glove when it comes to marketing operations in the highly complex, fast-paced market with empowered customers. It changes how marketing people are organized and the way they are working. Agile infuses customer centricity, collaboration and experimentation into everyday work. It brings improvement in speed, predictability, transparency, and adaptability in your marketing. Your team members will feel more in control of their workload and be more empowered to influence the marketing initiatives. Sounds magical, right? That’s because it almost is!

Typically, Agile-driven marketing organizations are moving away from traditional campaigning with big broad and long campaigns and getting into more micro-campaigning, thinking in terms of customer journeys and continuously aiming to improve customer experience.

The performance of agile organizations and the feedback from their employees are truly remarkable, making it hard for organizations using “old style” ways of working to compete on equal terms. This puts pressure on organizations to initiate transformation into agile, and this can be a tough challenge.

Agile rips apart traditional organizational silos, management layers and way-of-working, bringing in an entirely new way of thinking and executing tasks, activities and campaigns. To embark on this transformational journey requires determination, planning and fearless leadership, where management also is willing to change themselves.

How to get started?

The right way to approach agile transformation is to actually do it in an agile way by starting small; experiment with a selected piece of your marketing organization. Learn, adopt, improve and grow fast – but in a controlled manner. You can apply Agile principles and ways of working in one team, or even in a couple of teams in the same department. But growing it further, you really need to understand that it requires changes in governance, organizational setup, performance management and executive management layers. If you don’t take action on all these levels, you will end up with a hybrid situation where nothing becomes efficient and you will fail – hard.

There is no one template for implementing agile within marketing. Each implementation will be unique and the varieties are many. Hence, you need to think hard on how your particular organization shall adopt agile in the best way possible.

Reflecting on the “Agile hysteria” during MarTech 2016 and the amount of speakers using agile as a buzzword, at the same time not knowing what they are really talking about – we will undoubtedly see many companies fail whilst trying to adopt agile methodology even before they understand what is and how to apply it. Our strong recommendation is to do your homework, gain knowledge and ask for help, before setting out on your agile transformational journey.

Anders Grahn Managing Partner at Recoordinate

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