Is there such a thing as Agile Marketing?

March 30th, 2011 1 Comment

Recently, coworker, a software developer in an Agile software development shop, asked me if there was such a thing as Agile Marketing.

I had recently seen a webinar on the topic, listened to the Agile marketing podcast, but I wasn’t familiar with the term. The more I learned about it, the more I realized that the marketing I had learned was Agile. No, it didn’t have stand up meetings (they were usually gchats, instant messenger programs like AIM or Skype), kanban boards, and I wasn’t unit testing my HTML or PHP. But it did follow the principles that Agile project and development methodologies were designed for.

I first learned marketing on no budget, as a high schooler, who wanted to promote a cause. So, I started with a goal, designed a logo with the free Paint Shop Pro, and started to hand code HTML with a site on GeoCities and opened up an email list – long before the days of Yahoo or Google Groups. There were no wireframes. I was the web and graphic designer. I started doing rapid web prototyping by default – mostly because my coding skills were better than my graphic design skills.

So what is Agile marketing?

Agile marketing includes:

  • technology-driven development
  • sales and marketing automation
  • flexible planning and sprints

No, it’s not about kanban or scrum or even XP and unit testing and TDD (but it usually does include web development.)

Since that’s how I started and had been online since 1991, it took me over a decade to realize that’s not how everyone worked… Wasn’t all marketing digital and technology based? Hasn’t this been the platform for the past 15+ years, at least?

I didn’t know that most marketers were scared to touch a line of code, resulting in delays for basic tasks and web content management instead of data driven and technologically integrated tools that measured business goals, allowing for resources to be dedicated based on their results. Instead, most people worked in a waterfall model, with wireframes delivered to developers to chop their Photoshop images, instead of rapid web prototyping.

Today’s digital tools, including marketing automation, web content management systems, CRM system (including Social CRM), and digital analytics tools provide the immediate feedback that’s important in Agile management and allow for marketing managers to make quick decisions, based on actual feedback from stakeholders.

Of course it’s not about old vs new. With the enhanced need for rapid response, the marketing fundamentals, such as clear branding and positioning, and messaging and message development are even more important when feedback loops and sprints are in play. In fact, in specialties like crisis communications or public relations-which have always demands instant response – these Agile principles are also baked into the industries’ best practices.

So yes, Agile isn’t just for software development. It’s time for Marketing to go Agile as well.


1 Comment

  1. […] Avi Hein asks “Is There Such a Thing as Agile Marketing?” […]

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