Call for Entries:SNCR Excellence in New Communications Awards
Agile Marketing Movement Update 10/12

Why Agile Marketing Is Needed

In a thoughtful and carefully written piece on defining  agile marketing Jack Skeels suggests we don't need to rewrite the agile manifesto for marketing.

In his piece he deconstructs the agile manifesto, point by point.

However, for me If ever there was a reason to rewrite the agile manifesto for agile marketing, it was because of point 2; or "Working software…over comprehensive documentation," marketing isn't software. It isn't even a product, unless you are providing a "marketing," product that is.

Rather marketing is a process.

And when you build working software the process can improve over time,  but like software, a process can become redundant due to changing circumstances, or lack of development.

Jack suggests it's easy to determine if software is working. In marketing how do we determine if the marketing process is working? Well we review whether the goals we've set for ourselves have been met or not. Yet, once successful, unlike software, a marketing process doesn't just keep on working, rather the process has to be maintained, and because people are running the process, the process only works well if the people work well.

So, if the people change, you actually may need that "comprehensive documentation!" To train the new people.

Marketing Challenges

Jack also described some of the challenges facing today's marketer:

  1. Proliferation of New Channels
  2. Cross-channel Consumer
  3. Increased Channel Velocity
  4. Improved Intelligence and Measuring

And he went onto suggest that agencies & clients are experiencing a lot of waste and pain: Waste in terms of not being able to capitalize on taking an integrated approach to today's marketing, and pain, in that turf wars get in the way of producing results, instead of working together for better results.

As someone who was an early observer in the use of social media for corporate marketing, I saw many of the problems and challenges Jack describes for marketing in general play out in the world of social media first. Little did we know back then, that yesterday's problems were nothing compared to today's. Why? Well today we are looking at a whole scale change to the entire marketing budget, instead of the once almost non-existent social media marketing budget.

Jack had suggested the definition of agile needed some tweaking, and suggested point 2 needed an upgrade, to:

2)    Results-orientation – focus on holistic (program) metrics, test

Now having marketing results does compare well with working software. But we dropped the reference to comprehensive documentation.

In marketing terms, I think of documentation in terms of wisdom or knowledge about a process, and knowledge rather than that being a problem in building an effective marketing process, it's an asset. Not because we need to follow route documentation, but to meet the challenges of today, you need that wider marketing knowledge to produce better results. Sometimes that knowledge doesn't reside with one person in a company, or within one agency. But to achieve optimal results, you need a holistic approach, even if that means partnering across departments or agencies. If you will, to meet the challenges of today, you need a comprehensive approach to achieve those marketing results.

Here then is part of the issue with agile marketing, it's much more complex than working software, why, because we are talking about multiple systems, processes, and yes, in some cases software systems. Today's marketing complexity needs a process for delivering marketing knowledge at the right time and right place within the marketing planning process. Just as agile development helped iterate for better working software, agile marketing, should be able to deliver solutions and knowledge to the complexity and politics of today's marketing environment.

What Is Agile Marketing?

Jack touched on the question of that is the definition of what is marketing. While marketing certainly includes product marketing, and I would not exclude product marketers. If you were to ask who a "marketer," is in company, I think many people would says it is the person who deals with running a process for marketing (promoting) a product or service. And while agile can be used for product development, I think that's how agile jumped to the marketing department. Marketers who moonlighted as product marketers started to wonder how they could apply the tools they saw being used in product development to their world of marketing.

So for me, when I think of agile marketing, I'm applying it mainly, but not exclusively to marketing campaigns and marketing promotion, and that in part is why it is separate from the product development process.