Some things should never change. Say, the recipe for your favorite cookies or the pace of a Sunday afternoon.
But some things have to change. You can imagine the usual list of suspects like global warming, and, assuming you haven’t cut the cord yet, how much you're paying for your cable bill each month.
There are a few things in marketing that have to change as well. Marketing has to show a clear line of sight from marketing output to business outcomes. Marketing has to be in alignment with consumer behavior no matter how fast it’s changing. And marketing has to be calibrated to holistic data analytics to ensure performance.
To accomplish these three things MARKETING departments have to become AGILE.
McKinsey, considered to be the most competent management consulting firm on the planet, defines Agile Marketing as, ‘using data and analytics to continuously source promising opportunities or solutions to problems in real time, deploying tests quickly, evaluating the results, and rapidly iterating and then scaling across the organization’.
We recently partnered with Lynda.com in Los Angeles and the LinkedIn Learning team in New York to develop and produce a course on data science for marketing. The research that was done to inform course development illuminated three fundamental best practices for agile marketing.
The agile approach grew, in part, out of what are known as lean methodologies. First spearheaded by Toyota, these are workflow processes aimed at achieving a pinnacle of efficiency and effectiveness. Lean is focused on speed and validation.
As software development practices gained widespread adoption, it became clear that projects of such a complex nature needed something different than the standard 'waterfall' approach to project management. From this need, Agile was born. It combines lessons from lean manufacturing along with a new set of models geared towards complex project development.
Agile marketing requires the right workflow. The right workflow breaks down silos because it is circular in nature. It aligns strategy, implementation, and validation analytics in an approach that allows for constant improvement, speed, and validation.
There has been a lot of discussion about how CMO's and CIO's need to partner together over the past few years. This partnership has been lauded as a kind of real-life super-hero duo for marketing of late. That's because the backbone of so much of marketing these days is both technical and data-driven.
In all reality, the call for this close collaboration is only the tip of the iceberg. Marketing's a team sport. It requires the interaction and the interplay of art, copy, and code. It requires teamwork between strategy and data science. And all of this without it taking 6+ months to get a campaign from concept to market (which is the average time of non-agile marketers mind-you).
Agile marketing requires a balanced collaboration approach, or what Morten T. Hansen calls Disciplined Collaboration, and represents a new way of thinking and organizing work. Marketing teams have to learn and share the same vernacular to create clear communication and innovation.
Agile advocates for pragmatic solutions. Moving the needle. Moving ahead. Moving on up to a castle in the sky (where marketing's piece of the pie is a seat at the boardroom table).
With agile if something doesn't work, you change it. Fast. How do you know if something doesn't work? Because with agile marketing, you have a clear line of sight.
The right marketing business intelligence solution provides a framework to align your strategy with your execution. It establishes the scaffolding you need to ladder up from leading indicators and marketing output to lagging indicators and business outcomes.
The right data used the right way provides both a compass and a barometer to get (and keep) marketing programs driving business results. That means extracting and leveraging insights to drive action items. That means operationalizing your marketing data.