Belief introduced Agile Marketing to our core business model in 2005 based on the foundational principles of Agile Software Development (itself formally launched as a model in 2001). Since then we’ve seen the concepts of Agile Marketing formalised by way of an industry manifesto that sets the baseline principles and values around what agility in the marketing arena might actually mean.
In a single line definition, Agile Marketing might be described in the following simplified way: “Agile marketing is a tactical marketing approach in which marketing teams collectively and quickly identify high-value customer-facing projects on which to focus collective and collaborative efforts. Projects are then quickly deployed based on the responsive needs of the consumer market."
Pictured: The 'Agile Marketing' Definition: Able to move quickly and easily".To illustrate the concept by way of a real-world example, think back to the introduction of the Australian Government’s HomeBuilder program (supplementing already-existing programs designed specifically for First Home Buyers). How quickly did your business respond to market demand and implement appropriate marketing material on your website, as part of your email programs, and in off-site advertising? Clever marketing practitioners recognised that "if you’re not first, your last", and quickly had their teams build the necessary material for dissemination within just a couple of days. The result on our end was (initially) over 100 advertising leads making their way into various funnels every single hour. Those brokerages that were able to respond quickly and easily to high market demand, and deploy the material that their customers were now looking for, were able to take full advantage of the fluid market.
This article introduces Agile Methodology because Yabber supports your marketing response in an extremely agile manner, and Yabber introduces an agile methodology to your business by design. To implement changes on your website, include new front-page call-to-actions, launch appropriate follow-up campaigns, and publish high-converting landing pages, all that is required to action the changes is the click of a button - this response defines the agile environment. Your campaigns and content may be created quickly, and deployed into a market that demands a fast-paced response. Of course, the first version of your response won't be crafted to perfection... but the agile environment also supports the quick improvements to your initial response. Yabber is the only real digital marketing solution ever made available to the finance industry, and the only platform designed to support your holistic and agile marketing response. The result: more digital success.
The Agile environment – as opposed to the Waterfall methodology once used by the software industry and inherited almost by default by marketing developers – is one focused on quickly deploying, assessing, and improving – essentially becoming an endless loop of improvement.
The important takeaway for any business is that they need to have a framework in place to quickly establish a need or opportunity, a framework for internal and external collaboration, and a mechanism to have material built and deployed in a short time. The advantage of Yabber is that it takes care of all of this and introduces an Agile framework to your business by providing all the necessary tools and integration that enables you to respond to opportunities without the hard work.
Your Business Should Be Agile First
In order to have an agile marketing program it stands to reason that your business should itself be agile. That is, your business should foster a culture of innovation, your internal culture should be one that supports ideas and ideals to be shared, and you have appropriate standard operating procedures in place in order to showcase your learned best practice.
Many in the finance industry might use a CRM Kanban board for the management of active opportunities (as they should) but often ignore the same style of task management for internal business operations and marketing efforts. Task management is necessary for your business – not just your opportunities.
If you’re using SalesTrekker or any higher-level CRM that includes a true stage and workflow Kanban board you can and should relegate daily business activities and your marketing programs to the same software (and by a real Kanban board we're talking about an integrated system that supports a real agile and long-term business solution, so not something as useless as GoHighLevel - a horrible solution we've seen introduced to the industry). When planning your marketing projects with a Kanban board, ensure that larger tasks inherit their own workflow while smaller projects and tasks might use the same simple workflow.
Belief recognises that most CRM systems don’t include a true Kanban experience so we’ve integrated Microsoft’s Planner software into the mix to compensate for what is often a CRM software shortfall. Planner is a visual Kanban-style task management piece of software that is already included in your Microsoft 365 subscription and is usually more than adequate for smaller businesses (the number of people we’ve come across using commercial products when Planner was better suited is significant). Planner has a distinct advantage over other products in that it seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Teams and your existing 365 Email accounts (the comments/notes in Planner are group-based emails). We have fully integrated many Planner modules in Yabber and added vital functionality not made available by default, such as triggers and Prospect Management.
Pictured: Microsoft Planner. Many flock towards a paid Kanban task management board when their Microsoft Office 365 subscription provides an exceptional task management experience by way of Planner. Planner works with ‘Plans’ (‘Workflows’ in SalesTrekker), Buckets (‘Stages’ in SalesTrekker), and Tasks. Business planning is more than just managing leads – it’s about managing your business. Belief integrates the full suite of Microsoft products into your core business experience.
Actually implementing a team-based mentality in both business and project (marketing) management is challenging in the broking environment because many brokers are used to operating autonomously. The agile workplace, however, is a team-driven exercise that is multi-disciplinary and all-inclusive, and challenged by the fact that a burden is placed upon brokers that they’re not overly family with – team-orientated and time-sensitive goal setting. The time-poor nature of many brokers does tend to exclude their participation in direct marketing programs, but on the flip side their involvement does provide quality control over the information produced and adds value to the end product.
In order to develop an agile workplace many will rely upon frameworks such as Scrum (including the Sprint component – literally meaning a short race at full pace). The Sprint is mainly used in Scrum Agile methodology but is also the basic idea of Kanban management and continuous delivery (which itself is essentially a longer-term Sprint Scrum).
So, in summary, for those that are looking to introduce a faster-paced Agile framework to their business operation, you’ll need suitable software to manage projects, regular team meetings to assess your goals, and a mechanism to garnish feedback from active clients and campaigns. The latter two points tends to steer the rapidly iterating backend approach.
Yabber Facilitates Agile Marketing
Without data indicating the success of all moving parts of your campaigns you have nothing. The cost of a Facebook lead, or even a conversion, for example, and in isolation, is not an indicator of your marketing success (ignore those flawed message peddled by “Facebook Marketers”). We’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to provide the most sophisticated data-driven platform in the industry with Agile marketing results at the core of its functionality. We’ve also provided facilities so every part of your marketing can be split test, measured, altered, and acted upon on the basis of data that provides a very clear and definitive snapshot of your success.
Yabber Studio is the only product in the Australian finance marketplace that enables agility in your marketing programs.
Whatever marketing solution to choose to implement, you should be able to do so quickly, and then have a mechanism to measure the results in simple terms, or improve upon your business and marketing efforts. Marketing is more about Facebook, and more about than just having a website (although the website tools we provide converts higher than any other website solution in the market,and it'll have a profound impact on your online lead generation). Small and measurable marketing improvements will improve your digital footprint, and they will have a tremendous impact on your business volumes, but a marketing plan and agile framework must first be established.
If you're looking to turbocharge your marketing efforts, Yabber is the ultimate digital solution.
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The Agile Marketing Manifesto
The Agile Marketing Manifesto – compiled by a group of marketers in 2012 –is by no means complete, and itself a victim of the evolving marketplace since it was first written. However, it provides a good framework for what Agile means to most businesses.
Marketing Manifesto Values
1. Validated Learning over Options and Conventions
It is a process of validating our learning through a implement-measure-learn feedback loop, rather than of following conventions or deciding what’s best based on the opinion of the highest paid person in the room (HIPPO).
It's worth reading our article on ‘Data Driven Behavioural Insights’ to fully understand the importance of data in marketing decision making. The amount of data we provide our clients is unlike any other product ever made available to business in the past, and it is done so in order to provide a clear understanding of what the consumer market is looking to achieve. Based on the circular SARA decision-making model of ‘Search/Scan, Analyse, Response, and Assessment” (and there are dozens of variants), we can constantly improve our efforts based on a somewhat sterile approach to known analytics.
“HiPPOs are leaders who are so self-assured that they need neither other's ideas nor data to affirm the correctness of their instinctual beliefs. Relying on their experience and smarts, they are quick to shoot down contradictory positions and dismissive of underling's input.
Source: Forbes , 15th April 2013.
The HIPPO principle is one demonstrated by the archaic management style of JC Penney’s Ron Johnson. Johnson’s 52-million per year package fuelled the executive’s belief in his prowess based on nothing more than his pay check. What devolved in that business was a culture of groupthink and gut-based decision-making – usually contrary to known statistical insights.
Instead of writing a 100-page marketing plan every year, write a one-page set of objectives every quarter. This way it’s easier to communicate our core goals to applicable stakeholders, and it means we’re in a better position to provide a course-correction when required.
2. Custom Focused Collaboration over Silos and Hierarchy
Collaboration, focused on the needs of the customer, produces better marketing than siloed, departmental turf wars and strict adherence to hierarchical decision making. Silos lead to tribal knowledge dying in a marketing organization which leads to deviation from the customer needs.
More applicable to larger organisations that survive and thrive on “taking credit”, data is often protected and denied by each department (or “silo”) within a marketing department. The net result, of course, is a diminished end result. Agile relies on regular collaboration – usually by means of integrated software systems that provide real-time tracking on projects that relate to shared goals.
3. Adaptive and Iterative Campaigns over Big-Bang Campaigns
A non-linear, adaptive approach, which involves starting with a little strategy, implementing it quickly, getting insight into its success (or failure) with customers, adjusting and continuing to learn, is preferable to the conventional, linear big-bang campaigns, where big ideas are built, launched, and often either fail or are justified with metrics designed to tell a story.
The iterative, emergent, agile development process sometimes doesn’t work in the first few iterations, and may require a pivot to trying something else entirely different.
Clearly written by somebody with experience in corporate communications and media, this point emphasises the need for a course-correcting and ever-changing strategy based on known metrics or feedback garnished from any campaign. In smaller businesses we have to understand that our initial big idea won’t resemble the final product.
In the ultimate act of Agility, products or businesses need to formulate their core identify, or those of their products, by recognising emerging trends. Twitter was once a podcast subscription service known as Odeo; Instagram was once a check-in application known as Burgn; and Nintendo once manufactured vacuum cleaners and instant rice. The list goes on. One of our own smaller brokerage clients is now an online-only product aggregator. Your marketing efforts and products are in a constant state of Pivot.
4. The Process of Customer Discovery Over Static Prediction
Customers often don’t act in the neat, predictable ways that we assume they’ll act. Marketing is an act of customer discovery. Understanding customers is hard work, and while it may not quite reach the level of uncertainty of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, it does require constant respect for the customer and consistent engagement. The iterative, emergent, agile development process sometimes doesn’t work in the first few iterations, and may require a pivot to trying something else entirely different.
First, in quantum mechanics, "the uncertainty principle (also known as Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle) is any of a variety of mathematical inequalities asserting a fundamental limit to the precision with which the values for certain pairs of physical quantities of a particle, such as position, x, and momentum, p, can be predicted from initial conditions" [ Definition Source: Wikipedia ].
What this essentially means is that your marketing – even the marketing that works – is in a constant state of development, evolution, and flux. What works can always work better... and unlike the Uncertainty Principle we don’t rely on variances in the system in place before split-testing each consumer experience.
The uncertainty principle implies that it is in general not possible to predict the value of a quantity (results) with arbitrary certainty, even if all initial conditions are specified (those elements of the funnel). Having faith in a single marketing exercise is fraught with the same danger; our marketing results can always be improved upon.
5. Flexible vs. Rigid Planning
Plans must adapt to change. Planning by itself is not bad. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything”. But marketing is like war; just as no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, no marketing plan survives contact with the real, constantly changing market.
The fourth point tends to define agility better than any other. Adaptability is key to good marketing.
6. Responding to Change Over Following a Plan
This value comes from the original Manifesto for Agile Software Development published by the developers back in 2001.
Any change in the market should be seen as a means to improve upon your product or campaign rather than an obstacle. Using agile management principles project teams can respond quickly to customers, product users, and the market in general. Following a plan and the flexibility of a plan aren’t nearly as diametrically opposed as you might think if you consider each plan somewhat flawed to begin with.
7. Many Small Experiments over a Few large Bets
The idea for this value came from Scott Brinker’s 2010 post Ideas for an Agile Marketing Manifesto . It was reinforced by the following image, presented by Rohn Jay Miller, and based on work by David Armano and the Made By Many agency.
Pictured: "Many Small Experiments over a Few Large Bets". Any one project is made up of a number of moving parts. Each moving part can be modified or adjusted to test the return.
Marketing Manifesto Values
As part of SprintZero back in 2012 a number of principles were slated. They weren’t voted upon for formalised but they’re worthy of reproduction.
- Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of marketing that solves problems.
- We welcome and plan for change. We believe that our ability to quickly respond to change is a source of competitive advantage.
- Deliver marketing programs frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
- Great marketing requires close alignment with the business people, sales and development.
- Build marketing programs around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
- Learning, through the build-measure-learn feedback loop, is the primary measure of progress.
- Sustainable marketing requires you to keep a constant pace and pipeline.
- Don’t be afraid to fail; just don’t fail the same way twice.
- Continuous attention to marketing fundamentals and good design enhances agility.
- Simplicity is essential.
The Marketing Manifesto Summarised
In summarising the Manifesto we should come back to the simple definition of "agile": “Able to move quickly and easily... the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans”. The manifesto itself tends to a be a little repetitious and includes a large amount of overlap, so it’s important that you don't get bogged down by rhetoric and instead focus on the core attributes of a responsive business, and flexible marketing program.
Your marketing programs shouldn't be static, should always evolve, should be the result of a shared collaborative effort, and must be responsive to the needs of consumers.