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How do you Incorporate Agile Marketing

As Google dishes out algorithm changes in succession – a mere 86 for June and July1, it is becoming increasingly hard to plan far ahead into the future and implement longer-term strategies. This is even truer for marketing, and in particular Search Engine Optimization. However, Agile Marketing techniques and methods can solve this problem by bringing the customer into the marketing efforts and improving intra-unit co-operation.

But what is Agile Marketing? Agile Marketing2 is about shorter cycles of planning, implementation and review compared to traditional marketing. Ideally, these would be of one to three months, but sometimes they can go up to six. The practice involves setting concrete and realizable goals in the very short term and constantly monitoring the work. What makes this strategy agile is that it can swiftly adapt to change by altering its goals, resources, and techniques. For example, a software company can have a number of small releases throughout the year instead of a single big one at the end of the year. Not surprisingly, this type of work cycle has been successfully adopted in many key companies3.

The first step to Agile Marketing implementation is to get the company management on board, especially the CFO4. Unfortunately, management accounting, a. k. a. cost accounting, has heavily influenced management attention towards cutting costs instead of realizing company targets faster. You must convince them of the tangible benefits of Agile – lower company risk as the cycle investments will be smaller, potentially higher NPV (Net Present Value) and IRR (Internal Rate of Return) of the marketing campaigns, and lower costs due to streamlined processes.

Next off, the organization must adopt the principles of Agile Marketing5. Firstly, the campaign must take the customer’s preferences into account and form itself around any changes to them. The easiest way to achieve this is to create user stories or profiles which group people according to their characteristics. A successful Agile plan will not “predict” what they will want a year from now but instead determine procedures for finding out. Additionally, the “good” campaigns add value for the customer by educating or directing them to their destination instead of simply boasting.

The next principle involves effective co-operation. Agile Marketing is powerful in that it combines all organizational departments – their knowledge, resources and expertise – so that documentation and unnecessary communication is reduced. The improvements in speed, ease and expenses can be maximized by organizing their meetings into 10-minute “scrums”, or discussions. There every member must briefly report on their progress, daily plan for action and possible future problems. These sessions must be short but informative to give everyone a general picture and at the same time allow them to focus on their work.

The final principle is that action, not inaction, can fully satisfy the customer even if there are a couple of errors down the way. Agile Marketing is action-prone, that is, when in doubt don’t over-analyze and over-estimate but simply try it out and measure the effectiveness. When changing the plan at the start of every cycle, it is human not to be perfect first time, every time. But Agile Marketing takes these errors into account, analyzes them, and then releases something more tuned to the customer. Therefore, it is easier to consider user comments and fix an ineffective campaign than to abandon it and start from scratch. So it pays to be consistently good and not perfect on occasions.

Practical recommendations for implementing agile marketing would be: 

1) To focus on how to handle changes

2) To set up useful and unrestrictive procedures

3) To be unscrupulous when it comes to change

4) To provide all the tools and collaboration software.

References:

  1. http://insidesearch.blogspot.com/search?q=search+quality+highlights
  2. http://blog.mindjet.com/2012/06/agile-marketing-series-what-is-agile-marketing/
  3. http://blogs-images.forbes.com/stevedenning/files/2011/08/share-price-six-firms2.jpg
  4. http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevedenning/2011/08/16/how-do-you-explain-radical-management-or-agile-to-a-cfo/
  5. http://www.seomoz.org/blog/agile-marketing-whiteboard-friday

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