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Agile Marketing

As marketers in a digital world, we’re hyper-aware that data drives all we do. In Episode 3 of the How Digital Marketing Works® podcast, Drew Harteveld, Partner and Digital Practice Lead with New Vantage Partners, makes a case for applying agile principles to marketing for better outcomes.

Agile is an incremental and iterative approach to software development with the work prioritized by business or customer value. Cross-functional teams work on iterations of the product over time, and each iteration focuses on producing output that delivers value for the company and its customers.

Applying this agile way of thinking and working to marketing means taking a more adaptive and dynamic approach to strategy and execution instead of big campaigns, large innovation initiatives, or extensive brand planning [h/t to Mark Brown, research director at Gartner]. That’s often easier said than done, which is one reason why a majority of marketers haven’t yet embraced the concept of agile marketing.

As Drew says, “There’s no free lunch.” In other words, applying agile processes to the marketing organization is a different animal, so there’s no way to make it a clean and dry traditional project, with a definitive beginning and end. But by setting a hard stop date for an agile sprint — which can be defined as regular, repeatable work cycles during which work is completed and made ready for review — regardless of whether or not the end product is available for launch into the market at that point, the team has something substantial to work towards.

The end goal is to launch something into the market, analyze the data on its performance, then start again on the next parts of the elephant — that agile animal — with the information you’ve learned in that first sprint. Putting definite time limits and working parameters around your agile sprints means your team has a solid, narrow focus that can yield results (or not) in a set amount of time (or at least you’ll know!).

Drew explains that even launching something that doesn’t work is better than twisting in the wind with an agile process that keeps turning back on itself (think minimum viable product or MVP). Agile sprint goals should be much more focused, with specific time constraints around them, so you can work with smaller, tangible goals and outcomes that teach you more as you get through each one, again and again. Aligning the agile elephant with your current marketing objectives is a smart way to harness the power of your data, and leverage results to meet more significant goals.

Listen to Episode 3 of the How Digital Marketing Works® podcast for more about agile marketing.