Bright Ideas

When and how to apply design thinking in your marketing

When and how to apply design thinking in your marketing

Be more curious, creative, and inject innovation. All things as marketers we’ve constantly been told to do bring to our thinking as we address the challenges of a highly competitive market. Great advice, but how do you actually do it?

We chat to Victoria Hardiment (Marketing Director, Informa Markets) and Neil Preddy (Customer Strategy & Planning Expert) and they reveal how leading marketing teams are using design thinking to inject innovative action into marketing activity.

We want to give you as marketers the power to do great work – check out our Smarter Marketer Event on design thinking; a 40 min panel discussion featuring the savviest marketers in B2B and can help you discover how you can take your marketing to the next level.

Missed the session, watch it on demand!

Access the reframe cards – design thinking edition

Get started with design thinking with our reframe cards – purposely created to help you and your teams utilise design thinking tools and frameworks to better understand your customers, improve team collaboration and optimise marketing effectiveness.

Meet the speakers

Sian Heaphy

Sian uses agile ways of working to help businesses be more creative, curious and use data to transform their marketing and deliver business outcomes.

Lydia Kirby

Victoria Hardiment

Victoria is an experienced marketer who oversees the marketing strategy and operations of Informa Markets as their marketing director. She has incorporated design thinking into her impressive career, putting the focus on the customer to inform her decisions.

Neil Preddy

Using data to solve problems, find opportunities and make better decisions, Neil is a product leader and marketer with global experience of building analytics and big data platforms for CPG companies and retailers like Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Tesco and Amazon.

Reading List

Watched the panel and interested in hearing more? Check out our extended list of design thinking in marketing resources:

Books:

  1. The Design Thinking Playbook by Michael Lewrick and Patrick Link – This book offers a step-by-step guide to applying design thinking to solve complex problems in marketing and other areas of business.
  2. ROI in Marketing: The Design Thinking Approach to Measure, Prove, and Improve the Value of Marketing by Jack J Phillips, Frank Q Fu, Patricia Pullam Philips, Hong Yi – This book provides a framework for using design thinking to measure and improve the ROI of marketing initiatives.
  3. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries – This book is a classic on how to apply the principles of lean startup methodology to create and launch successful products or services.
  4. Value Proposition Design by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Gregory Bernarda, Alan Smith – This book offers a practical guide to creating compelling value propositions using design thinking so they resonate with customers and drive business growth.
  5. The Design Thinking Toolbox by Michael Lewrick, Patrick Link, Larry J. Leifer – This book offers a comprehensive set of design thinking tools and techniques for solving business problems, including marketing challenges.
  6. Alchemy: The Magic of Original Thinking in a World of Mind-Numbing Conformity by Rory Sutherland – a recommendation from panelist Neil Preddy, discover the alchemy behind original thinking, as TED Talk superstar and Ogilvy advertising legend Rory Sutherland reveals why abandoning logic and casting aside rationality is the best way to solve any problem.

Articles, podcasts, and videos:

  1. DOAC: E165: The Marketing Secrets Apple & Tesla Always Use: Rory Sutherland – In this podcast episode, Rory Sutherland shares his insights on how Apple and Tesla apply design thinking principles to create successful marketing campaigns.
  2. Design Thinking 101 hosted by Dawan Stanford – This podcast series features interviews with design thinking experts and practitioners, offering insights and best practices for applying design thinking in various contexts, including marketing.
  3. Design Together hosted by Abby Guido – This podcast series focuses on how design thinking can be applied to solve complex problems in business, including marketing challenges.
  4. Telling More Compelling Stories Through Design Thinking by Tai Tran – In this article, Tai Tran shares his insights on how design thinking can help marketers create more engaging and impactful brand stories.
Paul KeeganWhen and how to apply design thinking in your marketing
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How to use design thinking to transform your marketing strategy

How to use design thinking to transform your marketing strategy

Are your marketing efforts feeling a bit stagnant? Need a new way to innovate and find creative solutions to engage with your audience? Design thinking can be the perfect tool for marketers to get closer to their customers – both in understanding their needs, discovering unique insights, and creating effective campaigns. It’s an approach that requires active listening, creativity, and empathy – three characteristics all great marketers need!

What is design thinking?

Design thinking is a human-centred approach to problem-solving that emphasises empathy, creativity, and collaboration. It can be a powerful tool for marketers looking to get closer to their audience, align their leadership, and drive innovation. Sitting closely together with agile marketing principles, we use these tools regularly at Bright to challenge our thinking and drive towards more effective marketing activities.

It helps align your teams by encouraging cross-functional collaboration and communication. By bringing together people from different departments, such as marketing, product, customer success and sales, you can break down silos and work together to solve complex problems. This can lead to more cohesive marketing strategies that are rooted in a shared understanding of the customer and the business goals.

Design thinking drives innovation by encouraging experimentation and iteration. By taking a user-centred approach to marketing, you can quickly test and refine your ideas based on real feedback from your audiences. This can help you stay nimble and adaptable in a fast-changing market and ultimately lead to more effective campaigns that resonate with your customers.

Fig. The Design Thinking Toolbox, Lewrick, link and Leifer

The phases of design thinking

There are many examples of using design thinking frameworks in marketing. One common approach is to use the “understand, observe, define, ideate, prototype, test” framework to guide the marketing process, image above from the brilliant book by Lewrick, Link, and Leifer – The Design Thinking Toolbox.

Here’s how this framework could be applied in the marketing context:

Understand

The marketing team comes together to collect and gather existing information and understand different perspectives on the challenges the marketing team want to solve. Once aligned the team build assumptions that can be tested and discussed in the observe stage.

Observe

The marketing team conducts research to better understand the market and the needs and pain points of their target audience, through interviews, surveys, or observing customer behaviour.

Define

Using the insights gathered, the marketing team then outline the identified problems and start to share potential opportunities. Creating problem statements, persona development, journey mapping and even the value proposition canvas to define your solution fit are useful at this stage.

Ideate

The marketing team generate a range of possible solutions to the defined problem. This should involve team brainstorming or using other creative techniques to generate a range of ideas.

Prototype

The marketing team develops a tangible representation of one or more of the ideas generated in the ideation phase. This could involve creating mock-ups, wireframes, or other prototypes that help to bring the idea to life.

Test

The marketer gathers feedback on the prototype from the target audience conducting user testing, surveys, or other forms of customer feedback to evaluate the effectiveness of the idea and whether it should be developed further.

Other examples of design thinking in marketing include empathy mapping to better immerse marketer’s in their target audience’s environment, or the brand superhero canvas to map the competitive landscape. The sailboat exercise (which is also a great retrospective tool) helps to define a team’s vision, strengths and risks. Overall, design thinking is a versatile framework that can be applied to a wide range of marketing challenges to create more customer-centric solutions.

It’s clear that design thinking is a powerful approach that can help marketers get closer to their audience, align their leadership, and drive innovation. By putting the customer at the centre of their strategies, marketers can develop more effective campaigns that meet their audience’s needs while fostering collaboration and experimentation within their organisation.

If you’re ready to find out more, join us next Thursday, 2nd March for our panel event on when and how to use design thinking in the marketing context.

Alexandra JefferiesHow to use design thinking to transform your marketing strategy
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Marketing agility enablement wheel

Marketing agility enablement wheel

How do you enable marketing agility in your organisation?

In this piece we dive into what makes up marketing agility and whilst it’s important to understand the key characteristics that make up marketing agility, making it happen in your organisation is a different matter.

Changing how your teams work is hard, and at times thankless. It’s no surprise that businesses often underestimate the amount of support and investment needed to drive change effectively. And if you’re nodding along to this then the following model may help you understand what you’re missing or need to focus more on to enable marketing agility to happen within your team or marketing organisation.

The framework for enabling marketing agility

The framework for enabling marketing agility has been created to help support marketing teams thrive and survive in an increasingly volatile, uncertain, and complex environment.

Shaped by classic models such as McKinsey 7s and modern marketing models by XYZ and our experiences enabling marketing agility with medium to large enterprise across tech, engineering, and professional services.

The framework

Shared vision & business goals

Organisational purpose is clear, compelling and guides decision making with the North Star embodied across the organisation and people sense and seize opportunities.

To put it simply, you need to make sure the shared vision is truly embedded, understood and lived across the organisation and that your vision guides all decision making.

Those means ensuring each business is clear on what these goals mean to them in their market, function or team and that performance management is aligned with these goals.

Agile Leadership

Agile leaders believe we all have the potential to deliver on a shared purpose. They develop individuals as leaders at all levels, showing direction and enabling action, acting in a selfless and supportive way to deliver against business objectives and customer and client satisfaction.

They advocate for being agile rather than just doing agile and do this by harnessing:

  • Learning and continuous improvement
  • Team engagement and accountability
  • Agile culture and growth mindset
  • Collaboration and empowerment

Culture and mindset

An agile culture provides an organisation with a set of core values, behaviours and practices that drives the businesses’ ability to succeed.

To truly drive an agile culture means promoting, encouraging, and rewarding the values, behaviours and practices that enable your teams to act with autonomy, apply a growth mindset and demonstrate a strong commitment to experimentation, learning, reflecting, and adapting.

Collaboration and empowerment

As leaders, you need to ensure that people have an appropriate level of autonomy to carry out their work, and that there are opportunities for teams to work together, collaborate, share learnings, and align themselves towards the common goal / strategic vision.

Continuous learning and improvement

Critical to marketing agility is that teams are constantly evolving and learning to deliver the best possible outcomes; through data driven build test learn loops to validate new ideas, optimise activity if appropriate or discontinue activities or initiatives if they are not aligned or helping the business reach its strategic goal.

Team engagement & accountability

Engagement and accountability are important. Your teams have to be bought into your vision if they are going to give you their best. Your employees need to have a deep sense of fulfilment, feel safe to push back and hold themselves and their colleagues accountable.

In addition, they need to be clear on their goals, with rewards aligned to this as well as clear lines of career development and progression to keep them engaged and retained.

Agile governance

Governance supports how businesses set and achieves its goals, how risk is managed and how it improves performance and is supported by structures and processes, skills and capability, tools, and data.

It can be defined as the structures and processes for decision-making and accountability.

Critical to agile governance is transparency of process and performance and doing so consistently across the marketing organisation. Supported by:

  • Structures and processes
  • Skills and capabilities
  • Tools and data

Skills and capabilities

Driving agility means ensuring your teams have the right skills and capabilities to utilise new ways of working, channels or disciplines. That means matching the needs of the market and making sure you’re making skills and resource available in the right place at the right level. Providing opportunities for your teams to upskill, test and experiment to understand what works well and what doesn’t for your market context.

… become a data-driven marketer?

Structures and processes

As highlighted in agile governance this is focused on the structures and process for decision making and clear accountability. In the context of agile marketing things to think about here are regular planning, reviews, and retrospectives, KPI tracking that is visible to all and clear repeatable processes within your teams, and across your teams (depending on the structure of your marketing organisation).

Tools and data

Last but not least, agility can’t happen without the right data to support data-driven decision making. Centralised dashboards and insight that supports deep understanding of customers and audiences in real time, enabling transparency in reporting and performance and quick changes and flexing of resources as appropriate to increase the effectiveness of activity. But we aren’t just talking about data on what you’re doing, but also how you’re doing it. Using tools which allow you to have ‘work in progress limits’ and prioritise work will lead more things getting across the line – focus on the things which are delivering business results.

How agile is your marketing team?

Discover how agile your marketing organisation is with our agility calculator tool and determine whether you are surviving or thriving.

Sian HeaphyMarketing agility enablement wheel
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Adopting a Growth Mindset: The Key to Meeting Changing Needs

Adopting a Growth Mindset: The Key to Meeting Changing Needs

Do your team dwell on failures, focus on what hasn’t worked and repeat the same mistakes? Then this panel discussion is for you!

Many organisations promote a fixed mindset amongst their employees without knowing they do so. This frame of mind makes teams reluctant to change and dwell on ‘failure’ rather than taking learnings and pushing forward in a clear direction.

As markets continue to evolve and change, it’s critical that your employees adopt a growth mindset. This way of thinking encourages your team to find solutions, learn from their marketing activity and enables them to keep pace with the market.

Encouraging employees in your organisation to make this psychological switch can help generate impactful business outcomes and drive greater marketing effectiveness, which is now more important than ever.

All the resources from our Growth Mindset discussion in once place!

  • Watch the panel discussion
  • Grab a copy of our Reframe cards
  • Check out the reading list

How do you cultivate a growth mindset?

We invited marketing leaders to join our panel to share their thoughts on how cultivating a growth mindset can help empower marketing adaptability in a changing market. Our People and Account Director, Alexandra Jeffries spoke with:

  • Pippa Van Praagh, Product Strategy & Enablement Director at Reward Gateway
  • Emily Clark, Head of Data Partnerships at Informa
  • Zoe Merchant, Managing Director at Bright

During the panel, they unpacked how to navigate continually changing markets and how to push forward as a business, they also shared their key strategies for cultivating a growth mindset and fostering curiosity amongst their team.

Meet the speakers

Alex Jefferies

With over a decade of communications, culture, and change experience, Alex is passionate about delivering impactful, timely and considered content and communications that drive positive change.

Zoe Merchant

Zoe is  a passionate believer in staying ahead of the competition with resilience, adaptability, and curiosity. Zoe’s extensive agile marketing knowledge means she can turn every challenge into an opportunity.

Emily Clark

Emily has bridged the divide between marketing and data transformation since 2018, translating and facilitating change management in a multi-national, multi-brand organisation.

Pippa Van Praagh

Pippa’s passion is helping businesses build products and solutions that truly change behaviour and developing a growth mindset is just the start.

Bright StudioAdopting a Growth Mindset: The Key to Meeting Changing Needs
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Marketing ideas to make you think

Bringing together the latest trends, tools and news at your fingertips

Marketing ideas to make you think

We’ve given the newsletter a shake-up, bringing you the ‘need to know’ stories for successful marketing, bitesize insights from the Bright team and the latest in market trends. In short, everything you should be embracing to better equip you for a smashing 2023. Looking to deliver Smarter Marketing this year? Look no further…

Embracing a growth mindset whilst being data-driven |
Marketing Metrics

Data-driven insights are your key to continuous improvement and optimisation. They are fundamental to agile ways of working, giving you the data you need to iterate and optimise your marketing activity and better support your business goals. But how do you apply a growth mindset to your data capturing to drive better business results?

A growth mindset is all about the attitude with which you approach obstacles, how you process failure, and how you adapt as a result. Applying this logic when reviewing marketing activity can mean you approach failures as lessons learned.

With a growth mindset, you’ll be able to see what didn’t work well as an opportunity to try something new, doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. This is particularly useful now when marketers must focus on costs whilst still driving the same results. Marketers are having to do more with less and drive efficiencies whilst still delivering value to the business

If you’re interested in finding how to cultivate a growth mindset within your marketing team, attend our free online event on Friday 3rd February.

Sian Heaphy, Account Director

With the rise of the AI Chatbot, is first always best? |
Tech, tools & trends to pay attention to

It seems like ChatGPT is the talk of the town on LinkedIn, news reports and among marketers! It’s no wonder – with all its exciting new possibilities, it can be hard to know where exactly to start. As competing tech options appear, we ask, is first always best, or are there advantages of learning from your competition?

DeepMind, a subsidiary of Google, has announced its plans to launch a ChatGPT competitor. ChatGPT made headlines last year as the interactive chatbot that can fulfill several tasks for its user, from typing out a human-like text response for someone to coming up with an entire dissertation on any given subject.

Demis Hashibis, CEO, DeepMind, has said their chatbot, Sparrow, will be much safer and have features which the star rival is currently missing.

Set for private beta release this year, Sparrow will be more “conservative and constrained” than ChatGPT but with close links to Google, could this make it the search giant’s answer for ChatGPT?

Google isn’t putting all its eggs into one basket as they have also developed another AI-powered chatbot with DeepMind, MedPaLMa, for the medical community, which could generate safe and helpful answers using datasets covering professional medical exams, research, and consumer queries.

Why is this useful to you? As AI-powered technology makes its introduction to marketing activity, it’s important to remember that we are still in the early stages of AI advancement. Throughout the year we’ll likely be introduced to many more AI innovations, but all need relevant testing and experimentation to see if they work for you and your business. If you’re working agile, this will enable you to experiment to find the right tool for you and your team to help with marketing efficiency. What’s your AI strategy? 

– Lydia Kirby, Client Services Director

6 steps to leading successful organisation change | Leading Change

Change enablement focuses on providing employees with essential information and support, alongside tools, processes, and strategies to help them adapt and transition to change within their organisation – it’s often a last-minute consideration! Without following these six simple steps, you’re likely to face organisational barriers to effectively implementing any Marketing Transformation.

  1. Set realistic expectations – Leaders can easily over-promise the benefits of the proposed change, and when those benefits aren’t achieved, trust is broken. Once employees lose trust, it’s hard to regain it.
  1. Address concerns early – The chance of success greatly improves if employee concerns are proactively addressed. This usually surfaces through three main areas; information concerns (what and the why), personal concerns (how will it impact me) and implementation concerns (how will we do it).
  1. Be approachable – Create an environment of psychological safety where your team feel safe putting themselves on the line, such as asking a question, seeking feedback, reporting a mistake, or proposing a new idea.
  1. Over-communicate always – When leaders withhold information, they are showing a lack of trust and lack in confidence in the change by wanting to control what people know, when they know, and how they know it. In the absence of information, people will make up their version of the truth.
  1. You don’t know what you don’t know – Admitting you don’t know something can be one of the most powerful trust-building behaviours you can use. It shows humility and honesty to admit you don’t have all the answers.
  1. Invite everyone on the journey – People take ownership of the plans they create and implement. Successful change efforts are those that are done ‘with’ people, not ‘to’ people.

– Danny Whitebread, Senior Communications Manager

What you need to know about the latest Google Analytics update

This year will bring the biggest changes and opportunities to the Google ecosystem in years. One of the biggest changes that impact marketers will be Google Analytics 4 replacing Universal Analytics (GA3) in July 2023.

Some of the advantages of GA4 for marketers include:

  1. Cross-device and cross-platform tracking: GA4 allows marketers to track user interactions across devices and platforms, giving a more complete view of customer behaviour across the buyer journey. With 90% of leads doing research online before they even speak to you – this information is key to your ongoing marketing strategy
  2. Improved integration with Google Ads: this allows marketers to better understand the impact of their advertising efforts, and often huge budgets, on website traffic and conversions.
  3. Enhanced machine learning capabilities: GA4 includes a range of machine learning-powered features, such as predictive analytics and automatic anomaly detection, which can help marketers make more informed decisions about what marketing is working to drive business results.

Empower your data-driven decision-making and be ready for the switch later this year!

With 90% of leads doing research online before they even speak to you – this information is key to your ongoing marketing strategy

– Sophia Howard, Digital Marketing Manager

Resources to support your agile marketing journey |
Agile marketing in practice

“Bright supported ADP’s international division ably through its agile marketing transformation and continues to be a wonderful agile resource to our marketing staff across various regions. I look forward to continuing our fruitful relationship as we continue our agile journey.”

Els Humphreys-Davies, Senior Director of Marketing Programs

As world-leading in agile marketing, the team at Bright are equipped to guide you through its agile marketing journey, however far into that journey you are. From agile novice to agile aficionado.

Is your marketing traditional, fully agile, or somewhere in between? With a clear view of what makes your marketing tick, we’ll offer valuable insight into applying or optimising agile marketing within your teams and across your business. Try our Marketing Agility Calculator to discover where you fall on the agile marketing scale.

If you’re more advanced, then you may find our marketing transformation service useful like our client ADP.

Check out our free agile marketing resources.

As unprecedented becomes the new normal, ensuring your marketing activity is effective, and engaging and your processes are efficient means you’ll be able to drive better results for your business with fewer resources and be more adaptable to changing markets.

As always, the Bright team is primed and ready to help you reach your goals faster, why not book a short introductory call with one of our directors and see how we can drive the growth your business wants to see in 2023?

The Bright Team

Alexandra JefferiesMarketing ideas to make you think
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When was the last time you challenged your market knowledge?

When was the last time you challenged your market knowledge?

The pace of marketing can be relentless. Jumping from one project to another can be challenging, with little time to look up and around at how the industry is evolving. The risk is you miss an opportunity to get ahead of the competition or jump on a new piece of tech without understanding the how or why.

It’s easy to stick to what you know, and it’s no doubt the fundamentals of marketing don’t change – create value for your customer and drive business growth. But as we enter another period of economic difficulty, in a rapidly changing business, it’s arguably more important than ever to look to new and emerging ways of working, technologies and practices.

The market has changed

You’ve likely heard the names. The recent influx of AI developments has impacted so many facets of marketing – for copywriting like ChatGPT; creative designers have DALL-E; audience targeting with AdRoll… there’s a lot to take in.

And that’s just AI. What about newer social platforms like TikTok and Mastodon – how could they help you reach your audience? And these are just some currently in-vogue; precedent suggests there will be newer, trendier channels just around the corner. And then there is the challenge of gathering the right data to inform your marketing with cookieless tracking and Google’s next-gen analytics with GA4 (more on this soon!).

Marketers don’t need to go all-in on everything new, but they do need to be aware of how these tools could be game-changers for their customer target audience.

Shift your team focus, things you can do today

Here’s a few things you can do today that can help shift you towards where you want to be:

  • Retrospectives: The start of the year is a great time to look back, but it’s something you and your team should be doing consistently. Schedule a retro with your marketing teams to look at what worked, what didn’t, and what the learnings are. Retros are judgment-free opportunities to help improve for the next iteration. We love the Sailboat retro for Marketing teams, Mural has a great example to get you going. I ran a session with our client TECHNIA at the end of last year, and the positive feedback from the team was brilliant – as were the new ideas for 2023 marketing.

 

  • Host lunch & learn sessions: Taking time to learn from others knowledge sharing can be quick and fun. It can also serve as an opportunity to connect as a team beyond your project work – there’s a lot of positives. Find a subject you’re interested in – or haven’t ever heard of – and book it into your diaries. This could simply be playing a YouTube how to video, asking a team member to share their knowledge or bring in an outsider to share… show the team you’re invested in their development and generate new ideas for your marketing challenges – win-win!

 

  • External POV: Sometimes, all you need is an outside perspective. Bring in someone from outside your project – from an external organisation, or even a team member working on a different project – to facilitate a brainstorm or retro. When you have your head down, getting work done, sometimes you need to shut the laptop (metaphorically if you’re remote!) – to introduce a new point of view. There are huge benefits to bringing in an external view to facilitate and challenge the thinking of your team – set out a problem statement and start creating solutions.

Has this got you thinking? Great! Challenge your marketing team and bring in Bright to jumpstart 2023.

Tips on staying up to date

So how do you create an environment that allows your team to stay up to date and also test the new and innovative approaches to marketing?

Increasing your awareness of the wider marketing world doesn’t need to be a big lift. Here are some actions that, over time, will help increase your awareness of developing marketing trends:

Sign-up to email marketing newsletters – it may sound obvious but signing up for marketing agency and industry newsletters can be a great way to stay in the know about new marketing techniques. They’re generally free, and you don’t have to interact if you don’t want to. Create a ‘must read’ list of your team

Follow marketing influencers on social media channels – by adding some additional industry figures to your social channels, you’ll be able to keep abreast of what those in the public eye are endorsing, and whether it is a good fit for your marketing.

Set alerts – using a tool like Google Alerts, set updates for broad terms like “digital marketing” or be more specific and search for something like “copywriting AI tools”. You don’t have to check your alerts every day but setting aside time to review any news is a handy way to ensure you don’t miss out on anything.

Look at your competition – what channels are your direct competitors using? Are there learnings or changes you can make from this? Perhaps they are seeing good engagement in an area you haven’t even considered – could be worth some experimentation.

Attend industry events – whether in-person or online, it’s good to occasionally attend marketing events; they’re a great way to see other organisation’s marketing tools and strategies, and you could also happen upon something invaluable that you didn’t even realise you were looking for.

As an agile marketing consultancy, we are well placed to offer impartial advice on your current ways of working and marketing agility and implement plans to give your marketing team a structure that allows you to take advantage of new marketing techniques and tools.

Lydia KirbyWhen was the last time you challenged your market knowledge?
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Agile marketing leadership: Game plans

Agile marketing leadership: Game plans

Agile marketing leadership: game plans

Our game plans are designed for those who want to build resilience and deliver game-changing marketing at pace. One page is all you need to increase ROI and transform your ways of working. Designed as an overview of the 30 minute bootcamp sessions, the topics cover everything from sprint leadership to building emotional connections in B2B.

The perfect tool if you want to optimise your marketing and inject agility without watching a full webinar.

Agile marketing campaigning

Download your checklist of critical success factors for you to reference and tick off when you’re putting together your agile marketing campaigning.

Vanity metrics

Identify your metrics from your KPIs. Your one page checklist to make sure you’re optimising your use of data to improve marketing performance.

Sprint leadership 

Learn how to run a sprint from planning through to retro, and see a clear breakdown of the sprint, metrics you should focus on and expert tips.

Transformative communications

 Discover our five top tips on how to drive cultural change in your organisation through communications.

Building an emotional connection in B2B

 See the top five ways you can evoke emotion and forge a strong connection with your buyers.

Unsticking your pipeline 

From TOFU to BOFU, find out what content will move your leads down your sales funnel and increase your pipeline velocity.

Personas and Buyer Journey Mapping

Everything you need to know to develop, transform or simply begin your personas and buyer journey maps.

Targeting Financial Services

There’s four key steps to targeting Financial Services effectively. Find out what they are in this one-page game plan.

To ABM or Not To ABM

Here’s your guide to kickstarting a successful ABM strategy from selecting accounts to refining propositions.

But is it compelling? Creating value propositions that convert

Learn how to create value propositions that help you convert your prospects into leads.

The rise of social selling and how to stand out

Stand out in what has become an increasingly saturated digital landscape with social selling.

Harness the power of community based marketing

Here’s your recipe for CBM – the ingredients you need to run a successful community.

Show me the money!

Quantify the value of your plans to secure senior buy in through crafting a compelling business case. 

Alexandra JefferiesAgile marketing leadership: Game plans
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What is marketing agility?

What is marketing agility?

Over the course of countless blogs, we’ve talked about agile marketing, why it’s important and how its helping teams improve engagement, marketing performance and driving efficiencies in their ways of working.

As we head into 2023 marketing agility and agile marketing are again key trends and capabilities needed in your marketing to respond to internal and external pressures.

When I talk to marketers about agility, I typically get the response ‘our teams are constantly adapting to market forces’ and that is certainly an element of marketing agility. But I would argue that it is so much more than that. So, in this blog post we’re going to go back to basics and discuss what we mean by marketing agility.

Defining marketing agility

When googling marketing agility, a few definitions appear. The one I like is from the American Marketing Association:

the extent to which an entity rapidly iterates between making sense of the market and executing marketing decisions to adapt to the market.

A couple of reasons why I like this definition:

  • It incorporates the internal and external – something that marketers are constantly balancing
  • It uses the term iterate – which is key, because marketing agility is a continual process, something we must look at again and again

Some of you are probably thinking that definition also lines up nicely with the typical response I get from marketers, and it does, to a certain extent. The final reason I like this definition is It includes making sense of the market and executing decisions – two very simple phrases that mask what can be very complex processes. Processes that make or break a team’s ability to be agile.

So, let’s drill down into the key elements of marketing agility.

What is marketing agility made up of?

There are 5 key things to think about when looking at marketing agility as outlined in the diagram.

The top half is what we describe when running our training courses as doing agile, and the bottom half is focused more on being agile.

You can’t have agility without elements of all 5 – but some are more important than others.

Doing agile

This is the remit of tools, processes, and practices. The martech, data analytics and project management tools you use to capture, analyse, manage, and execute marketing activity with as well as your ways of working.

With the technology landscape growing and only increasing in its complexity (Scott Brinker’s martech map puts it at 9,932 solutions) tools deserves its own post and we’ll write one soon.

Processes and practices are interesting because you will see benefits from doing agile in terms of efficiencies and ability to respond more effectively to internal and external forces. Whether adopting pure Kanban, Scrum, SAFE or a combination of methodologies based on your business context there are key elements of the processes and practices that support marketing agility:

PracticesValue
SprintsAllow teams to tackle smaller amounts of work within a specific timeframe and deliver activity iteratively and adjust plans accordingly based on performance and customer feedback.
PlanningEnsure teams are aligned on what trying to achieve and what the team need to do to deliver these outcomes.
RetrospectivesA chance to reflect on successes, learnings and how they need to inform activity moving forward.
Workflows (e.g., Kanban boards)Giving teams visibility on all activity and help leads reprioritise and manage tasks accordingly.

However, the real value of marketing agility is in the ‘what’ and being agile.

Being agile

Being agile is about the principles, values, and mindsets your team embody to respond to changing customer preferences and market conditions.

To understand more about the principles and values of agile I recommend reading the agile marketing manifesto. These form the foundation of marketing agility and the standards to work by.

The ones that stand out when thinking about marketing agility are:

  • Focus on customer value and outcomes rather than outputs
  • Delivering value early and often
  • Learning through experiments and data (read our blog post on experimentation to understand more)
  • Respond to change over following a static plan

In short – the most effective way to inject agility is to focus on what your customers need, and experiment with propositions, messaging, channels etc to understand how prospects and customer engage, using this data to optimise on-going activity.

Incorporating these elements into your marketing can help you stay ahead of the game and ensure your efforts are always relevant, effective, and on target. With a bit of effort, you’ll be able to capitalize on emerging trends, create compelling campaigns and respond quickly to customer feedback – all key components of marketing agility.

Sian HeaphyWhat is marketing agility?
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The complexity of marketing transformation

…AND THE SIX KEY ELEMENTS YOU NEED TO BE ON TOP OF FOR SUCCESSFUL MARKETING TRANSFORMATION

The complexity of marketing transformation

“Change is constant”

We’ve all heard this or a variation of this expression. And whilst that may be the case, what’s also true is our innate resistance to it.

We tend to underestimate the level of change required in marketing transformation programmes and often aren’t prepared or willing to accept the likely drops in productivity, performance and potentially revenue. Leaders try to maintain current levels of performance whilst also asking their marketing teams to adopt the new/target state. Or worse, don’t actively manage the change and hope it will happen organically over time.

As time goes on, the transformation loses traction and momentum, marketing teams don’t see the results and eventually the programme stalls, leaving you back where you started or worse – with a confused and disenchanted team.

When it comes to marketing transformation there are two things to consider:

  • What you are looking to transform and why
  • How you will actively manage the transformation (the execution)

Poor execution is typically highlighted as the culprit when transformation goes wrong, but an interesting study by the Harvard Business Review suggested that not getting the ‘what to change’ part right is equally to blame.

Let’s take a look at both.

What are you looking to change

With any marketing transformation you’re ultimately looking to generate more value – whether that’s through improving marketing effectiveness, creating operational efficiencies or driving growth through better customer experiences

To start to understand what needs to change, you first need to listen – to your team(s), customers, and any other key stakeholders to identify the good (the things you want to keep or build on), the bad, and more importantly the underlying root causes across both.

This will give you insights and clarity on what underlying issues need to be addressed in your marketing – whether that’s process, capabilities, or technology and how you might start to address them.

Actively managing the transformation (the execution)

When it comes to managing and implementing change within your marketing teams there are a few key things to think about:

Shared Vision

Simon Sinek does a great job highlighting the importance of why everything should start with a purpose, including your transformation. Why are we changing, what are we looking to achieve?

If your teams don’t understand the outcomes you’re now looking for, this will lead to confusion, lack of buy-in for the transformation and discord within the team.

Skills

The next factor is skills. What skills or capabilities are needed to drive the transformation? For example agile marketing, data literacy, understanding of new technologies etc. Does your team have these, or do they have the training to enable them to execute on what they are being asked to do?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, and there are no plans to upskill or bring in the right skill sets, then you risk your team feeling anxious about how they are going to drive the change.

This is a great opportunity in the marketing transformation journey to review the skills you need now and in the future for a successful marketing team. Map your team skills and identify the gaps – note this isn’t about job titles, this is about the skills to plan and execute on your marketing activity.

Resources

I see a lot of businesses try to maintain current levels of performance whilst asking their marketing teams to adopt the new/target state or to do more with less, particularly during times of uncertainty and a poorer economic climate like the one we’re in now. This can lead to frustration.

What resources are available? Are they sufficient to drive the transformation? What additional resource is needed? And if it’s not possible to bring in additional resources, what can be deprioritised to ensure existing teams have the capacity to take on the new requirements?

These are all things that you need to consider and guide your teams on – so they can maintain focus on key business priorities and delivering value for the marketing function.

Incentives

When it comes to change, we must remember that we are dealing with people and that means thinking about how we make the change relevant to them, so they see the value and benefits.

Get this right and it can get you the consensus and buy-in needed to make the change work, get it wrong and it can lead to resistance.

When we talk about incentives this doesn’t have to be monetary. Developing new skills, whether that is in different areas of marketing, or new experiences across different markets or products can also be meaningful incentives. Whatever you choose, it’s important to be consistent, follow through with any promise and ensure it ties back into the shared vision.

Strategy

You wouldn’t go to market without a clear strategy so why should your transformation be any different? A clear strategy, milestones to work towards and plan of action for how you progress is key. This helps to monitor the transformation and give your teams a clear direction.

Without this, programmes risk false starts or a sense of moving around in circles and not gaining any traction with the programme.

Governance

Ensuring your programmes have a clear governance and framework in place is critical to success. Without governance it can cause inconsistency and slow progress due to confusion re who is in charge / where to go for support, back-tracking on decisions etc.

That means ensuring:

  • Clear marketing transformation leadership roles
  • Clear structure that organises and coordinates the transformation programme
  • Clear processes and decision-making structure

Manage the change curve to realise impact of change at pace

In any marketing transformation there is going to be a dip in performance in the short term. As business leaders we must accept this with the view that the longer-term gains (improved customer experiences, ROI, and higher performing teams) will outweigh any short-term impact.

The aim of any change management process is to manage and address all the elements above to create a shorter dip and increased pace of sustainable change. If change is constant and inevitable, managing that change for a successful transformation is essential. If you’re not managing the marketing transformation, you are missing a key opportunity to harness change, which is happening in your team, but could be to the detriment of your marketing rather than improvement – direct the change, set a vision, and implement change sustainably.

Sian HeaphyThe complexity of marketing transformation
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Setting clear objectives and key results can transform your marketing

Setting clear objectives and key results can transform your marketing

Does it feel like you’re working away on marketing activity, without focusing on the overall business goals? You’re not alone.

Without clear and tangible goals, it can be difficult to measure marketing progress, and to ensure it is aligning with what you want your teams to achieve. By implementing a system to regularly check in on clearly defined objectives, you can create a culture focused on measuring results and delivering value. This is where OKRs come in.

What is an OKR?

OKRs have become pretty well adopted across most businesses now, but it’s always worth a reminder… Objectives and key results – or OKR’s – are a great way to define what your individual and teams’ goals are, and what achieving them will look like.

As the name suggests OKRs are broken down into:

Objectives: the business goal you wish to achieve. Your objective should be aspirational, memorable, and qualitative.

Key Results: results we want to achieve on the way to successfully achieving the objective. A general rule of thumb is to have no more than 2-5 key results per objective.

When used effectively, OKRs allow an organisation to:

  • Focus and commit to priorities
  • Align and connect teamwork
  • Be accountable through tracking
  • Stretch to achieve ambitious results

Using OKR’s for greater marketing agility

Having well-defined OKRs are a great way to encourage a move away from untargeted, scattered and ad-hoc marketing activity, and towards work aligned with achieving wider business goals.

OKRs can help transform your marketing activities into business value by:

Keeping teams on track – with OKRs set, teams can act more autonomously on their own initiative, with clearly-defined goals. They encourage a “what’s next” mentality which can help drive campaigns & projects forward.

Focusing on results – by adopting OKRs, you’re promoting a results-focused culture. This will have a knock-on effect in terms of your teams’ bandwidth – doing more doesn’t help if there’s no significant impact on the overall goals, meaning the sole focus is on work & tasks that contribute to the right outcomes, rather than quantity.

Prioritising goals – OKRs help with prioritising your marketing backlog, if a user story (or task) won’t assist in achieving your OKRs, it’s not a priority. They can also help you evaluate progress and against clearly defined goals.

Self-organising teams – agreeing on objectives as part of the OKR process allows teams to take initiative, and work towards confirmed goals.  This incentivises a leaner, more focused workload, with a lesser chance of teams burning out.

Agile marketing transformation – one of the main obstacles to greater marketing agility is a perceived lack of predictability. With OKRs, you can overcome the unknown, by committing to deliver business results within a set period, such as a quarter. OKRs aren’t about sending a certain number of emails per month for the sake of doing so – they are about working on what delivers the best outcomes and incremental experimenting to discover what works best. Through iteration, you can not only measure progress, but also have the scope to experiment with marketing outputs to achieve results, without using excess time or budget.

Getting started with OKRs

When introducing OKRs, you don’t have to start large – one way to do it is to identify 3-4 key objectives to be achieved across a longer period, such as an entire year. These will be larger objectives and are usually agreed upon at a senior level, such as by the board or leadership team for the business to focus on. Once identified, then marketing needs to decide how they can best contribute and demonstrate outcomes and results to support the business achieving them. The final stage is to break them down within each quarter of the year.

This mixture of a larger, yearly target, alongside smaller quarters can assist in showcasing how objectives in one particular area can contribute to the wider organisation. As well as making it easier for the marketing team to stay focused and work towards larger goals by achieving and calibrating against quarterly targets as well as breaking them down further into shorter sprints.

Setting measurable key results is essential for reaching your objectives. While having an annual measurement may be beneficial, one opportunity a year won’t provide enough insight into whether the work has been successful or not – regular data collection can ensure that goals are being met in real-time across the year!

Questions to ask when setting OKRs

When setting your OKR’s, you should ask yourself some vital questions to ensure they make sense from a business and resource perspective.

OKR setting – questions you should ask

  • What does the business want to achieve?
  • Who do you want to target, in a given timeframe?
  • What milestones are you putting in place to track your goals against your sprint activity?
  • What reporting are you using to monitor your work? Consider what is available to measure based on your current tech stack.
  • What performance do you want to see across chosen channels?
  • Does this data provide insight am I avoiding vanity metrics?

Getting your OKRs right at the start of the process can prove highly beneficial for a campaign, so it’s worthwhile to spend some time thinking about these questions. Well defined and realistic OKRs can have a positive impact on marketing strategy, by promoting learning and reflection.

Performance matters, OKRs give the scope to improve marketing performance

OKRs can have plentiful benefits for your business and teams. They can promote a culture focused on delivering – and measuring – value and help align activity towards achieving business goals. They also act as a safety net to enable timely course correction and demonstrate how marketing is contributing towards achieving the overall business goals. By highlighting areas of underperformance or market opportunities you can adapt and realign your strategy, campaign or project to achieve better marketing outcomes.

Lydia KirbySetting clear objectives and key results can transform your marketing
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