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Agile Marketing Series: The Agile Marketing Movement’s Time Is Now

Unfortunately, many developers, engineers, IT pros, cost accountants, and business bottom-liners think of marketing as a rote list of deliverables:

  • email campaign
  • press release
  • website with landing page
  • banner ads on partner sites
  • “Make this look pretty.”
  • “Can you ‘wordsmith’ this?”

Check, check, check: Marketing done. Snore.

Though marketing works with communication staff and advertising firms to produce those deliverables, the intellectual divide between an old deliverables approach and modern agile marketing could not be wider.

Deliverables aren’t very interesting without connection to an audience, a testable hypothesis, and a business goal. The best minds in marketing strive to figure out human psychology, and agile marketers like to come up with hypotheses and test them the same way scientists do.

Don’t kid yourself: If you don’t see value in the marketing activities at your company, you can bet the best minds in your marketing department don’t see any value in them, either.

We can all do better.

Marketing, if it is to have value, must start on the front side of projects, to help figure out who customers are, what they want to buy, and how much above cost and custom they will pay.

Marketing’s job is to help the company decide what to make—not to sell what’s already been made. (That’s called “sales,” and if sales is going to step in to hit the big home run, marketing must take the hundreds and hundreds of practice swings beforehand.)

Agile Is The Antidote to Analysis Paralysis.

The analytical mind is powerful at considering many factors and making sound decisions based on critical evaluation.

But there’s one big problem: analysis paralysis. Analytical thought tends to break things apart into components and ruminate in endless circles of “what ifs.” Analytical thought will not lead to the “a-ha” moment of motivated action. (In fact, the word “analysis” means the opposite of cohesive insight.)

We’ve all met people with gifted analytical minds. They can see all the factors, but they also tend to stew in contemplation over the contingencies of a new project. Sometimes this is called “procrastination,” but that’s not really fair. It’s more an endless cycle of deliberation.

Today’s short cycle times means you can’t sit in deliberation for weeks, months, and years.  And nothing is sharper at finding reasons why “it won’t work” than the hyper-analytical mind. It finds reasons to not to do something at every turn. It loves to sit and think.

For this reason, agile marketing must motivate action within the company as much as external markets. Agile marketing breaks big analytical matters into small steps with emphasis on:

  • Short review cycles
  • Many iterations to improve and change
  • Willingness to try with the understanding that nothing is final (or doesn’t have to be)
  • Optimism to go with the best idea at the time
  • Discipline to do the next right thing and not look back at mistakes

Agile development concentrates on getting a working model up and running as soon as possible. Agile marketing does the same thing. Get something out there, test it.

Act As Though Your Survival Depends On It.

Because it does, if your survival is business in the 21st Century. In a recent article on Marketing Profs Mobile, John Cass sums up four main reasons why companies must get over analysis paralysis and adopt agile marketing practices:

  • Speed — Things happen faster today.
  • Priority — You have to do less and do it better.
  • Engagement — You have to listen and tell stories in a dialogue both inside and outside your company.
  • Relevancy — Goto #2.

The good news is, if you’re reading this and have the right mindset for agile marketing, you probably understand the need for speed and priority. What you may not know is that you are probably a natural at storytelling, as well.

More about that in the next post. In the meantime you may enjoy reading this post in Marketing Profs.

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