Marketers are naturally feeling stressed by the lockdown. Entire plans, campaigns and messaging went out the window. Now is not the time for long term planning.
The environment is constantly changing and I have found that the agile marketing approach is well suited to today and the foreseeable future.
Especially since the shift back to offices is starting to appear on the horizon, heralding another chaotic period. The only thing we can be sure of is that life isn’t simply going to return to how things were when those plans, campaigns and messaging were carefully laid down before Covid..
Marketers who get it right, and adopt a suitable strategy and plan now will bypass that crazy period, ready to accelerate growth, taking significant market voice and therefore pipeline compared to companies who do not.
So, what is agile marketing?
Different types of messaging in marketing campaigns are going to work at different times. The only way to know what works is if a huge amount of data is coming in. Therefore, agile marketing allows marketers to be adaptive to changing environments. In order to adopt this method of marketing, it is worth revisiting the agile marketing manifesto:
- Cross functional teams work collaboratively towards a shared goal
- Customer-focused collaboration over silos and hierarchy
- Adaptive and iterative campaigns over Big Bang campaigns
- The process of customer discovery over static prediction
- Collect feedback and monitor performance along the way to rapidly refine and iterate as needed
Following an agile marketing plan is not only effective in the present, but also sets the foundations for a company to be ready for when businesses start up again. In our new reality there are 3 things a marketer needs to focus on to succeed today and in the months ahead: flexible planning, gathering insight and testing messaging.
Flexible vs. Rigid Planning
Flexible planning responds to change rather than following a strict plan. With this in mind, many think agile is about no planning, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is better to outline with agile. If your campaign goes into too much detail where there’s no room for alterations, then you run the risk of being stuck when something unexpected happens. Therefore, it is best to start with much detail as you want, then loosely set out your goals for the first few steps in your campaign. This enables you to move flexibly once the business starts to move again, keeping your plans tenuous and easy to adjust.
Uncertain economic times will favour the agile. You will need to apply a range of approaches to gather insight about your market. During this time, B2B companies are usually dependent on a few valuable customers. Agility emphasises the need to organise around the need of the customer.
You can gather feedback from sales as they actively talk to customers and constantly build rapport, giving you insight almost instantly. By listening and helping your customers, you gain insights that you will not get from simply running market wide campaigns.
Instead you should target specific companies with tailored advertising to build outsized awareness for much lower spend and also highlight which companies are willing to engage with the solutions you provide enabling your sales team to have better quality conversations.
Drawing from customer research is much needed – but leave room for growth.
Equally, track how sentiment is changing. What seemed true a week ago may seem hopeless out of date tomorrow.
Try experimenting with different messages. We can place ads with different types of messaging in front of different types of customers. This highlights which messaging garners greatest engagement and helps sales identify what to talk about.
Small experiments testing different messaging allow B2B marketers to test new approaches to achieve their goals and rapidly adapt in dynamic environments.
Different groups will return to their offices at different times, so being able to selectively reach these without wasting spend is going to be important. Once you identify the right approach, you are then able to quickly scale reach and messaging around it. Testing drives better results. Prototyping and testing continually improve ideas. Agile can improve the final deliverables, ensure better outcomes and provide visibility into final results.
The shift back from home to office is going to be as chaotic as, and probably more uneven than the move into lockdown. Today taking an agile marketing approach and collecting data, preparing the messaging and defining channel strategy so that we have a plan that can flex in that period and put us in the right place to accelerate as things settle.
Adjusting ideal customer profiles to suit the upcoming period is key, and being able to target specific companies with advertising, allows you both to increase awareness for much lower spend and to identity which companies are actually engaging with the solutions you provide.
Agile marketing gives you the ability to deliver that flexibility in planning and adjust messaging quickly based on insight gathered. Preparation is key to giving you that flexibility and in turn help you adapt to this new reality of unpredictability.