Running a small business marketing team is tough because you need to be able to adjust to the market and keep a group of people all on the same page and collaborating without duplicating effort.
If you're concerned that your team isn't operating very efficiently and your marketing project management and brand development efforts are suffering as a result, the solution could be agile marketing, which focuses on improving results and making projects develop a bit more organically.
The flexibility and fluidity of small business marketing campaigns can be improved with this process, but is it right for you? This guide breaks down what agile marketing is and how to make it work for your business.
Overview: What is agile marketing?
An agile approach to marketing refers to an organizational strategy to drive growth by motivating teams to better deliver value to the customer, with teams in different departments collaborating to execute high-priority tasks over a short period of time. The aim is to increase the speed and flexibility of marketing efforts in the organization.
It’s a tactical approach to marketing where teams focus on high-value efforts, and there’s more of an emphasis on collective effort and collaboration. These teams use data analytics to measure results, and then make adjustments in response.
How does scrum work for marketers?
Within an agile environment, a “scrum” is a method marketers use to solve problems in a flexible way. Scrum agile methodology is a framework that aims to make it easier for members of the team to work together with activities like daily huddles and "sprints."
It is focused on the learning team members benefit from when they complete a task, and the emphasis is on continuous improvement and continued growth in the effectiveness of these teams. Typically, members of a team will get together for a quick standup meeting that lasts 10 to 15 minutes. They'll answer simple questions like "what did I accomplish yesterday?" or "what is my plan for today?"
Examples of agile marketing
Agile marketing plan approaches are intended to increase the efficiency of teams in achieving marketing goals, while also boosting innovation and productivity. Here are a few examples of how that works in a real business setting.
1. Iterative delivery
In the case of iterative delivery, a company divides up the work into smaller chunks and then assigns those tasks to different teams. During an iteration, a team can accomplish an important task related to a marketing campaign that moves the team closer to its overall goal.
This allows projects to develop organically based on the results of achieving these incremental steps. These bite-sized tasks can be completed in short bursts known as “sprints.” Ideally, these sprints result in more feedback, less risk, and lower costs.
2. Iterative planning
Iterative planning is closely tied to iterative delivery in that the achievement of these individual, incremental steps affects the planning of the project over time. The planning process is flexible, and the team can change the plans of the project based on the feedback and the results that come when tasks are completed.
As a result, there is no formal plan created prior to project execution, and planning is more organic and less rigid. Iterative planning focuses on maximizing learning, and it requires constant inspection and adaptation. It is very responsive to any changes in the marketplace.
3. User stories
User stories are exactly what they sound like — a description of a feature that a customer or user would like to see in a system or product. The goal of user stories is to clarify exactly what kind of end product or result the team is looking for based on what they believe the customer or user wants.
They are written from the perspective of that end user and take an informal tone, such as "As [user], I want to [activity], so that [satisfied need]." This makes the goals of the project easy to understand and execute, and it also makes it easy to communicate to stakeholders what you're doing.
How to implement agile marketing in your small business
An agile marketing process will have a big impact on your business, enabling you to learn and adjust as you go and helping to define roles. Implementing agile approaches will require consistent analysis and an openness to change, so it might be a tough shift for you if you’re used to doing things in a more structured way. However, the following steps will increase your chances of success.
1. Establish metrics
The first step is to establish which metrics with your agile methodology you will use to judge the success of the marketing effort. You must determine specific outcomes and use numerical measurements — not list vague achievements like “improve brand recognition.” Work with the team to determine which metrics to track and how you will track them.
2. Develop goals and a timeline
With key metrics established with your marketing framework, you can develop goals and then a timeline to achieve them — keeping in mind that you must be fluid in adjusting the plan as part of this process.
Articulate specific objectives for marketing projects and set dates for accomplishing things, and then keep in constant communication with your team. Be reasonable with time windows and give yourself a buffer zone to shift those goals.
3. Formulate hypotheses
Now you must formulate some hypotheses on what you expect to achieve once you meet your goals through an agile marketing strategy. Work with your team to make educated guesses on the end result of meeting your goals, and ensure those hypotheses are measurable.
Again, be ready to change and respond accordingly — these are bellwethers to ensure you are staying on track and indicators of whether you must make adjustments, not hard-and-fast things you must achieve. If setbacks occur, try to see those “failures” as a springboard to success.
4. Examine and interpret
Once a milestone is complete, conduct an analysis and take a look at your data through marketing project management software applications. Seek feedback from your team on the results, and develop a consensus on the next steps based on your results. This is a good time to determine if you’re on the right track based on the results or if adjustments must be made. Flexibility is key at this stage.
Repeat this process with each milestone you hit, adjusting the plan and the goals based on the information you receive and what the data shows. Keep refining the approach until you have met your overall objectives. If you aren’t impressed with the results, be open to abandoning the approach entirely and starting over. Value empiricism over all else, and remain open to change.
Use software to implement an agile marketing strategy
Implementing an agile marketing strategy is not easy without the right tools. Market project management software and CRM software will help ensure you're on top of everything, from organizing your team to collecting the data you need to make informed decisions.
Check out some reviews of the top software options and choose two or three of the solutions that appeal most to you to give a trial run. It may have a huge impact on your business going forward.