Whether you’re partial to definition 1 or 2, the ability to move quickly and easily is an aspiration shared by soccer players, first chair violinists, and marketing teams. Quickness provides a bevy of potential moves and instills confidence. Ease builds up the spirit of creativity and teamwork. Alas, my own soccer prowess topped out at age 12. And I cannot describe the differences in playing styles needed to transform a violin into a fiddle. So, let’s go with agility in a marketing team scenario. My assertion: a marketing team operates at its very best when the power of agility is built into its market-facing practices, internal team processes, partnership collaborations, and content management systems.
But first, a light exercise in semantics. My working definition of an agile marketing team is a collection of well-coordinated experts who develop and deploy marketing campaigns and supporting activities with customer-oriented quickness, collaborative precision, and relative ease of information flow. Contrast this with a marketing team applying agile project management principles. A given team may possess both the power of agility and embrace agile project management principles, but they are not necessarily correlated.
My working definition goes beyond accepted project management methods – drawing energy from organizational paradigms and scalable technologies to help stand up and reinforce a collective agility ecosystem. Hallmarks include a cultivated entrepreneurial mindset & infrastructure, well-developed collaboration chemistry across internal and external team members, freedom to experiment (and make mistakes with less fear than most), a prescribed course of action with clear responsibilities for most anticipated business scenarios, and customized technology systems replete with metrics to visualize goal attainment. All these elements work in league to create marketing agility capability.
Several notable benefits emanate from agility. Some can be considered external, customer-facing ones while others reside solely within the confidence and confines of internal teams.
Let’s look a bit closer at some benefits (in no particular rank or order of magnitude, mind you):
This is a big benefit and, if I was a betting sort, the most obvious one that comes to mind. With agility at your behest, marketing teams can capitalize on seasonal, time-sensitive deadlines (like getting new offerings out to celebrate an anniversary event or brighten the holidays). Even if your organization is in the business of sharing ideas or signing up new members rather than selling products in the traditional sense, timeliness still has its appeal. Perhaps, your team is a non-profit organization or governmental entity. Let’s imagine a recent event weighted with significance is on your constituents’ conscience and lingering consciousness, and your organization has a way to ameliorate the pain or build upon the momentum. Your team will want to get your relevant educational messaging across while the galvanizing event is still freshly top of mind. Whether in the business of selling sweaters or influencing ways of viewing the world, marketing agility pays off.
This powerful benefit comes from having an optimized content management system set up to coordinate across all functional groups and interested parties. In other words, Sales & Marketing should be aligned with DevOps and Design to get the best content out, at the right time, to interested audiences. But alignment extends beyond your organization’s functional groups and can certainly involve technology agency partners (like yours truly, Content\Thread) who need to have established communication channels, a shared sense of urgency from an agreed project plan, and expertise allocated across the project to get work done. Internal productivity is amplified by agile marketing processes and systems due to having a systematic way of sharing content, handing off workflow and assignments in the digital realm, limiting content sharing redundancies, cutting out unnecessary sign-off requirements, and upgrading lumbering technologies and code holding information hostage within functional groups.
Agility certainly helps with making moves to grab market share faster than all the other untold competitors and substitute products & services looming out there. Take any marketing model that speaks to you (such as Porter’s 5 Forces, 8 P’s of Marketing, Diffusion of Innovation, Ansoff Matrix, etc.) and there you have agility’s acceleration powers woven throughout.
For an agile marketing team, the ship can be turned when the original course starts showing disastrous signs. If marketing analytics are signaling current moves are not paying off as planned, then change course rather than become a prisoner of hope. Cut your losses, learn from mistakes, and move on to a data-driven, more lucrative fit. Let’s hope your anomaly detection analytics are not just showing all the rocks and dark clouds. Perhaps, your analytics can point toward a promising direction not initially planned but demanding marketing reorientation. With agility in place, your team can go for it. A marketing foundation built for agility – comprised of a custom CMS, thoughtful marketing analytics, integrated cloud-based connector applications, and flexible processes managed by an aligned team – permits the next new revenue source to be grasped with alacrity.
Marketing agility is most certainly facilitated by technology. (Laughable understatement there, I know). And yet, agility is not merely turned on when the CMS gets installed and goes live. Rather, agility emanates from the nexus of an optimized CMS, connections to in-house and external expertise, a permeating spirit of experimentation and permissibility, crisp sets of well-designed analytics “telling it like it is”, and a lengthy, serious embrace of organizational learning. Marketing agility is an epiphenomenon, of sorts. It even touches upon the Gestalt principle of totality – the value of agility as a coveted outcome of a marketing ecosystem is beyond what each constituent marketing element isolated from the systematic whole can deliver. Marketing agility is a business capability with too many complex interdependencies and moving parts to be bought off the shelf – but it can most certainly be built.