Agile Marketing

What is Agile Marketing?

What is Agile Marketing?

It’s not just a buzzword – defining what agile marketing is, what it means for B2B and why it works.

This is the era of Agile. The ascendancy of experimentation and strategic thinking. The reign of data-driven insights. No matter your industry, everyone seems to be ‘going Agile’. Truth is, following the tech and internet revolution and the rise of Silicon Valley, every industry has had to shift to a more tech and data-driven mindset. And marketers are no different, what with our constant need to be customer centric at the forefront of market change.

But what does it actually mean to be agile in the B2B marketing industry? How do you apply an agile approach to your marketing? Most importantly, why would you leave your proven, traditional marketing techniques behind for new ways of working?

Breaking it down

To put it simply, agile marketing is exactly what it sounds like – the application of agile methodology across your marketing. However, that doesn’t give us enough to apply it effectively. In fact, you need to consider your organisational goals and how to drive the change in behaviour that’s needed for embedding a new way of working with your people, process and technology. Agile has a lot of its own lingo, so let’s take a deeper look at the key terms you’ve probably come across, and how they all work together to form an agile marketing approach.

The Basics

Agile Methodology

In 2001, visionary software developers wrote the Agile Manifesto, highlighting the vital importance of discovery and experimentation in software development. To help others build better, more customer-centric products, they detailed the need for “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation and responding to change over following a plan.”

Agile ways of working

Adopting an agile mindset demands redefining your marketing operational model. Where traditional marketing is restrictive, agile emphasises the freedom to be daring in your concept creation and tactics. Rather than spending months planning a solid campaign strategy, an agile marketing team takes a minimum viable approach to take an idea to market as fast as possible in order to test it with the target audience. This of course requires greater collaboration and more effective communication across teams. Don’t worry though, the hard work pays off in the end – with a noticeable boost in efficiency and productivity.

Data vs. insights

We could write an entire book on the importance of being data driven. In short, there’s a clear difference between simply gathering data about your target audience and using that data to your advantage. The most important aspect of an agile marketing approach is to turn your data into actionable insights – really dig deep into who your audience is and what solution they need, to help you build marketing strategies that make an impact.

 Sprints

Having adopted agile ways of working, your marketing team will start running campaigns in short bursts – usually within two or three-week intervals called ‘Sprints’. In Sprint 0, you’ll set up data tools to continually gather insights, and create content needed for the campaign. In Sprint 1, you’ll send it all out and test it with a specific section of your audience – say, your followers on LinkedIn. Then, in Sprint 2, you’ll take what you learnt in Sprint 1, iterate, and test again. And so on and so forth.

The Process

Test

So, how do you test, learn and iterate the agile way? By taking your concept to market as fast as possible, you’ll gain valuable time for measuring its effectiveness with your target audience. Did anyone click on your ad? How many responded to your emails? Did you receive any negative feedback about your content or design?

Retrospective

At the end of each sprint, you’ll take a hard look at those actionable insights. Taking note of what worked best with your audience and what failed to impress will help you gain a better understanding of your customers’ needs and what you need to do to reach them in the next Sprint.

Iterate

If you’ve learnt that your concept is working – great! Keep going and expand it to a wider audience. If it isn’t, change it up with a new image, subject line, USP, etc. In this iteration phase, you’ll make all improvements needed to get the results you want in the next Sprint.

This is an infinite cycle of continual testing, learning and improving that you can use throughout your campaigns and projects.

The Benefits

Agility

It’s clear that an agile marketing team is more efficient, effective and empowered. With an agile mindset, your marketing team will work more collaboratively to produce and experiment with new ideas that are more daring and innovative. What’s more, they’ll gain the skills to spring into action when needed, ready to adapt their campaigns and strategies accordingly.

 Keeping Pace

Injecting agility into your marketing, is the key to keeping pace – or keeping up- with constant change in the market and the ever-changing demands of your customers. Without a doubt, this is one of the best benefits to adopting an agile marketing approach – the ability to accurately identify and take advantage of opportunities in the market for business growth and brand development.

Fit for purpose

With an agile marketing approach, you’ll see better results and improved performance. What’s more, it’ll become fit for purpose – perfectly aligned with your business goals.

The Future is Agile

There you have it, a clear breakdown of what it means for B2B marketing to be agile. As our world continues to become more digital and tech-focused, the agile approach will continue to evolve with the market, steadily gaining momentum in its influence.  Adopting agile marketing and data-driven ways of working will become essential to success in B2B marketing.

Want to learn more? Check back next week for detailed look on Getting Started with Agile Marketing!

 

 

Lydia KirbyWhat is Agile Marketing?
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Making the most of your martech stack

Making the most of your martech stack

How to optimise your existing marketing tools and empower your team to use them effectively through agile ways of working

The world of martech (marketing technology) can be quite a murky place. What tools are out there? Which ones are best for your needs? And how do you make them work for you to achieve your goals? Let’s wade through the muck to find the answers.

Picture this: You’ve got data spread across your organisation in various CRMs, data lakes and even a few Excel sheets. To put it plainly, your data has more duplicates than an identical twin convention – but you know there’s valuable customer and prospect data hidden deep within, just waiting to be utilised. If only you had the tools to get it all in order, you’d be the marketing Rockstar of your organisation!

And so begins your quest for the latest and greatest martech tool, suffering through demos with approximately 34 different sales reps. They make each tool look better than the last and you agree that you would like to use every single one. But, here’s the catch – you don’t actually need them. Well, not all of them at least.

Fix before you buy

Like the old adage that your mother used to say, “we have food at home” – or in other words, take a look at what you already have, then decide what you really need. So, before you go on that endless hunt for a new marketing tool, make sure you’re really making the most of your current tools and take a real look at the goals you want to achieve. To do this properly, there are two crucial places to start: data and education.

Get your databases clean, up to date, and most importantly, compliant, before deciding on your next steps, or you risk falling into the same pitfall as many organisations before you. You’ll take your bad data from one tool to the next which then won’t deliver any tangible business benefits, because guess what? The data you’re feeding it is terrible. You’ll need a solid foundation to clean your database – clear targeting criteria and personas.

The next step is to make sure your team is using your marketing tech properly. Take marketing automation tools for example – we love them for the power they give us to run campaigns, send emails, create landing pages and much more with great ease. Their downside? That power is available to all your colleagues, and the temptation to abuse it is strong – why not send this email to a few more personas? Will it really hurt the click / open / bounce rate? Yes, yes it will.

And on top of that, marketing automation tools will happily put restrictions in place to stop unnecessary email sends that may hurt their bounce rates. Suddenly that great tool you had doesn’t look so shiny and bright when you have one hand tied behind your back because the new marketing intern sent the quarterly newsletter to your entire database. How can you avoid this? To quote a mid-90’s Tony Blair, ‘education, education, education’.

Inject agile into your marketing

A simple solution is to adopt agile ways of working.

With a test, learn and build approach, your team will gain the skills and know-how for using and optimising your tools properly and effectively. With an expert team you can trust, you’ll make the most of your existing tools while testing new tools with ease. What’s more, you’ll learn to integrate and maximise the value of your automation tools across your business as a team – streamlining marketing activities and delivering reports with clear KPIs.

It’s easy to assume that the perfect martech mix is only achievable with the latest top tools on the market.  However, the more you invest in your current marketing tools with greater support, knowledge-sharing and training within your team, the more value your users will get out of your system – making it more effective and better performing. A winner all round. Rock on, Rockstar.

Want to learn more about agile marketing? Check out our agile marketing hubs.

Lydia KirbyMaking the most of your martech stack
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Using agile marketing to drive rapid results

Using agile marketing to drive rapid results

Agile marketing is a methodology based on continual improvement to maximise results and return from marketing effort and investment. Bright wanted to share our experiences of working in this new way with senior executives from tech firms and get their perspective on how marketing can underpin business growth, so we hosted a dinner in July 2015.

How tech and consulting firms are using agile marketing to drive success

The dinner was attended by business leaders and entrepreneurs from various consulting and tech firms including TCSBCGCommonMS and Attenda.

At the event, held in a private dinning room at Jason Atherton’s beautiful Berners Tavern restaurant, Bright introduced how agile marketing is designed to explore ideas, create marketing messages, establish tactics and execute fast, so each element can be validated, measured and improved in market.

Mike Altendorf, investor, columnist and non-exec & advisor

Mike Altendorf – guest, investor, columnist, non-exec & advisor commented “These days effective marketing is critical for businesses of all sizes but the pace of change is so fast these days that to be effective it has to be agile. The days of five-year plans and 12-month product launch timelines are long gone. These days it is about speed, responsiveness, relevance and accountability.”

Richard Poole, Founding Partner at Fluxx

Bright Innovation invited clients to join the dinner to talk about their experiences of MVM in action. First up was Richard Poole, Founding Partner at Fluxx, a leading innovation consultancy talking about the heritage behind agile, explaining how Minimum Viable Product and lean methods has changed the manufacturing industry and how effective it can be to apply those same ideas to marketing services to get the best outcome and reduce wastage.

Richard highlighted how Fluxx has benefited from rapidly consolidating its market position through a robust marketing mix with each element being proven and built on to support ambitious business growth. Fluxx has had excellent results through the consistency of communication and original content that is a key part of the marketing programme combined with exclusive events that underpin it’s brand building with the right audience.

Barry Hayes, Executive Director of Flo Group

This was followed by discussions with Barry Hayes, Executive Director of Flo Group, a global logistics consultancy, who have transformed not just their brand but also its approach demand generation and how they work with Alliance partners.

Through working with Bright and an agile approach to marketing Flo Group have created a strong and differentiated brand, established successful demand generation campaigns that support its sales pipeline and growth targets plus built a strong event presence at key trade shows and conferences across EMEA.

Flo Group has also benefited from improvements to its strategy to Alliance partnerships and has secured significant funding for marketing through its proven approach to demand generation.

Lively discussions accompanied the dinner and explored how agile marketing can support business goals with key focus on how high growth consulting and tech firms can exploit this new way of working.

The three key pillars of marketing

The combined focus on the three key pillars of marketing a modern business should focus efforts around to quickly brand build, create demand and secure talent into ambitious firms was supported by the results of the marketing investment Fluxx and Flo Group have achieved.

Izzy Fox, Head of Venture Capital Investments, White Cloud Capital

Izzy Fox – guest and Head of Venture Capital Investments, White Cloud Capital commented “The start-ups we work with are coming out of an environment in which there is no distinction between digital and non-digital. They expect to be able to take their story out across any channel, at any time and to be continually responding to feedback in the market to adjust and rework products and services and how they market them. The old segmented, inflexible and siloed approach just doesn’t fit into the world we now operate in.”

Agile marketing brings a fresh approach that firms can take advantage of to secure results from marketing and gain a greater understanding of what works best with key audiences.

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Zoe MerchantUsing agile marketing to drive rapid results
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A value case for agile marketing

A value case for agile marketing

Agile marketing is a pragmatic and adaptable way of taking marketing ideas, testing them and validating fast. It helps to maximise marketing effectiveness by building on what works best in order to deliver the right result.

Agile marketing is particularly effective for B2B marketing, benefits include:

  • Reducing waste by only using the marketing elements that work best saving budget and time
  • Testing innovative ideas in a controlled way
  • Continually improving the marketing mix to drive results that meet the business goals
  • Reducing costs through greater budget control and accuracy
  • Improving speed to market to build market share
  • Allowing teams to work autonomously and have a clearer understanding of priorities
  • Data driven decision making – fact based, not gut feel

Then you can do more of that and less of the activities that don’t add any value. Understanding what is effective is a key trait for the modern marketer, orchestrating the best possible marketing mix by blending the effective components and discarding those that don’t help you meet your objectives.

If you are selling high value, complex products or services typically targeting senior decision makers they will expect a more personal relationship with any potential supplier.

This has to be built with personalised and tailored messaging and supported with evidence of your credentials. This is time consuming and expensive to manage and maintain, so you certainly don’t want to waste your time on activities that don’t deliver the right results.

There is a huge amount of wastage in traditional marketing – with such investment in planning and preparation up front, marketers are often only just validating the proposition and messaging with their audience as part of a large campaign.

Let’s take a typical campaign for an IT consultancy:

  1. The business develops a proposition idea and it’s agreed that this is a priority. A go to market strategy and marketing campaign need to be developed, fast
  2. Go to market preparation and campaign planning begins including defining a full marketing mix
  3. Campaign elements are created including data building, writing content, designing collaterals etc. – this can be time consuming and costly
  4. Big push / launch to go to market – elements executed into market based on a defined timeline
  5. Campaign measured and results analysed

So what is wrong with this picture? Well for a start you have invested a considerable amount of resource and effort before the proposition has been tested with your target audience. Are they in fact the right target for this proposition, did you even check?

You invest budget in creating campaign assets based on an untested message…you wait and see on the results. Of course the modern marketer is always trying to analyse and learn from results but can such a front loaded process really allow for a true understanding of how the proposition is landing with prospects? Or accommodate more creative ideas to be included and tested with a small sub set of the target group before you go for the wholesale campaign to your entire target database?

Whereas a typical agile marketing process is an iterative process right from validating the proposition idea or the campaign theme with a small group; honing it, discarding poorly performing elements such as messages or calls to action that just don’t resonate or interest the target audience.

Then adding more to the marketing mix, extending the audience etc. to expand the successful elements. It constantly measures results and evaluates against the business, marketing and campaign objectives.

Enabling experimentation and fostering curiosity makes agile marketing even more valuable. Giving you the ability to experiment and measure new ideas, this is particularly useful when you want to take a radical new approach but want to avoid the costs of a traditional campaign or the risk of alienating key target segments. Agile marketing can really help at two key stages:

  1. At the inception of a new proposition or campaign, experimenting with new channels, audiences or tactics on a small scale to prove or disprove effectiveness enables marketers to quickly get into market and drive results
  2. To reinvigorate existing propositions or campaigns where marketing impact is in decline. Using an agile approach to try out some new ideas with a sub set of your target audience can give fresh insight and successful elements can be rolled out across the campaign

As agile marketing is data driven and focuses on exploiting the marketing elements that perform best you continually improve results as you move through a campaign.

You can start with a minimal level of activity which helps you go to market quickly, measuring as you go. Adjustments can be made based on the results and new elements added, measuring the impact of each one.

The idea is to gradually layer the marketing mix with high performing elements that contribute to meeting your objectives and business goals.

When you use agile marketing you still have to agree and commit a budget but as you are continually measuring and learning, the return on investment becomes easier to foresee and quantify.

Digital tools lend themselves particularly well to agile marketing such as paid search or online advertising strategies – where a small budget pot can be allocated to validate the approach before a more sustained investment is made once the tactic is proven.

Core campaign components such as content can be expensive but by validating which elements of the messaging, topic or theme resonate most, any further investment is focused on additional content that will drive results.

Marketers should always set up metrics to report and understand the success of the marketing initiatives being undertaken. The difference with agile marketing is the continual learning and improvements mean any underperforming activity can be reviewed, changed and turned into an element with positive return. Budgets can be more accurately planned as you learn more about the value and return from your marketing activities.

Getting to market fast or first can be a key advantage for firms in fast moving environments such as tech consultancy or products. Agile marketing enables a rapid time to market by going to market with a minimal marketing mix and building on it. This means you can start to grow market share and build your brand whilst investing in the marketing elements that work best.

Building a results focused marketing strategy is streamlined by adopting agile ways of working, giving you the chance to innovate and enhance your marketing approach, as well as manage costs whilst reducing your time to market.

Bright specialise in working with high growth consulting and tech firms to help them get to market fast, build strong brands and attract the best talent to grow their businesses get in touch today to build a business case for injecting agility into your marketing.

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Zoe MerchantA value case for agile marketing
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Website redesign using agile marketing

Website redesign using agile marketing

Bright is built around agile marketing – an agile way of working inspired by lean and agile project management methodologies so popular in the tech world.

The concept of agile marketing

Agile marketing isn’t just a principle we apply to our delivery, its something we use internally too and I’m going to talk about how we applied this way of working in the redesign of our own website and some of the key lessons that we took out of the experience.

At the heart of agile marketing is the belief that campaigns and marketing activities should be rolled out to a live audience as part of their development.

Being data driven and using the feedback and results collected are then vital inputs which are applied to optimise it and the cycle then begins again. The idea is that now only do you get faster but you also have campaigns that are actually built on the way your target audience responds rather than theory or guesswork. 

A fast and effective website redesign

Well, you’re seeing the results of MVM in action on this page! The Bright Innovation website, as you might have noticed, has recently undergone a complete redesign. The key point, however, is that what you’re seeing now is not the final version; come back in a week’s time and you might experience a slightly different website.

The website is constantly evolving. Agile marketing allows us to use sprints to test, learn and improve based on feedback and performance analysis. The backlog of issues, opinions and comments, which we created during the testing stage before go-live is as important now as it was three weeks ago. Testing is vital in agile marketing. It’s testing that allows you to make each consequent iteration better.

Additionally, because we only invested one month of our time in getting the (minimum viable) site ready (from concept to going live) we now have spare time and budget to keep improving the website. And, importantly, we can base our improvement decisions on data coming in from real leads.

So how do you go about redesigning your website using agile marketing?

A few practical tips

  • You could spend months or even years re-designing your website and never being happy enough to make it live. That’s not an option using agile marketing. Give yourself a very ambitious, almost unobtainable, time frame and stick to it. This will force you to actually face making data driven decisions rather than hiding from them by ‘exploring other options’ constantly.
  • Don’t boil the ocean – your website doesn’t need every conceivable thing you can think of. Think rather – ‘what are the must haves’? These will be both your goal and your starting point to create a minimum viable site.
  • As with any project, a website redesign is likely to have multiple stakeholders and mobilising them can be tricky. To help yourself out schedule in regular stand up meetings with the ‘high power, high interest’ key players
  • First impressions count. Agile marketing helps you get something up-and-running quickly, but you still need to pay attention to detail. Spelling mistakes, missing content, placeholder text – all of these are easy to miss when you’re pushed for time but it’s these small details that make your site look like work in progress rather than a finished product undergoing evolution (two very different concepts). Balancing the speed of testing and learning with high quality output is the key to a successful agile project.
  • To help with the above point it’s worth considering a fairly extended period of internal testing during which those little mistakes and niggles can be spotted and taken care of. However, for the testing to really be useful you need to have a backlog – whichever way will make it easier to get feedback from your testers. Documenting the comments, issues and changes made, together with date and priority allows you to keep track of the testing phase progress. Once the website is live and you start making new iterations checking the backlog will also help you to avoid previous mistakes.
  • If you’re working with web developers make sure you know how to use the back-end to make edits once your test results start coming in.
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Sian HeaphyWebsite redesign using agile marketing
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Agile marketing in the B2B space

Agile marketing in the B2B space

There are over 3 billion social media users around the world*. That’s 40% of the global population.

And whilst the majority use social channels to document their own lives, more and more are using them to build their professional and social networks, find inspiration, do research and, more often than not, for entertainment.

The businesses winning in this space

The B2B businesses prevailing are those actively tapping into this trend. Rather than relying solely on their website, they create a social media marketing strategy that focuses on driving the right content at the right time to the right people.

I know. You’ve heard this before. Surely this is just marketing?

Yes. And no.

The reason certain marketing strategies prevail over others is because they use an agile methodology. They understand that there is no longer a beginning, middle or end to a campaign. Agile marketers are in a constant loop of producing new content, testing, learning, optimising, then repeating the whole process all over again.

And it’s this loop that allows them to find the optimal execution. Because let’s face it, consumers are fickle. What is trending today might very well be last year’s news tomorrow. So rather than planning for six months knowing these plans will be out of date in a week or so, produce a whole host of new creative that can be reworked, retagged, used across different platforms in different mediums. Not only does this stop you chasing your tail when something new hits the market, it means a more comprehensive feedback report specific to your brand and your market – meaning more informed decisions at every stage of your campaign.

Creating a suite of marketing assets can also help when creative fatigue hits, enabling businesses to release new assets even when the momentum of campaign kick-off begins to wear off.

And we’re talking about more than a handful of banner images and well-constructed tweets.

What content should you include in your campaign portfolio?

According to research conducted by Content Marketing Institute, the top six content used by B2B marketers come down to:

  • Social media posts (excluding video)
  • Case Studies
  • Videos (pre-produced)
  • eBooks/whitepapers
  • Infographics (we all love an infographic!)
  • Illustrations

According to a recent study by Magisto, more than one-half of the 545 small, midsized and global businesses surveyed reported creating new video content at least once per week. 26% noted creating new video content daily.

This is a huge step up for a lot of companies who would usually produce one video per quarter.

Thinking creative content

Other content that has huge potential in the B2B space are Podcasts. Done right, podcasts are a valuable piece of long-form content that can earn the time and attention for busy decision makers. eBay, Slack and General Electric are but a handful of companies already demonstrating the value.

Whilst one of the biggest barriers to adoption is a lack of training or knowledge of agile approaches**, this doesn’t seem to be slowing down momentum of businesses introducing agile marketing practices.

A new 2018 State of Agile Marketing Report delivered by AgileSherpas and Kapost finds that an impressive 36.7% of marketers have adopted some flavour of agile marketing. And out of the marketers who haven’t yet adopted agile, around half of them expect to within the next 12 months.

Another deterrent can be a lack of internal resources. Creating a variety of content needed to compete to the speed of social channels today doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does require time, creative juices and a black-cab driver’s knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite.

Grab an agile partner!

Partnerships with consultancies such as Bright who live and breathe creative are often a cost effect way to get the most out of your content budget. Not only do we have a full-service internal team comprising of wordsmiths, design wizards and expert consultants in virtual marketing and change comms, our capabilities stretch from the trustworthy infographic to video, podcasts to unique customer experiences and embedding agile ways of working.


  

Our marketing methodology also has agile at the heart of it, meaning we pick up all the testing, learning and optimising – leaving you with a suite of assets and one monthly report full of the information you care about and none of the fuss in between.

If you would like to learn more about agile marketing and our approach to content marketing in the B2B space, get yourself a copy of our Minimum Viable Marketing eBook. Or if you’d rather ask us some questions instead, ping us an email instead: hello@brightinnovation.co.uk

*https://mashable.com/2017/08/07/3-billion-global-social-media-users/?europe=true
**http://www.agilesherpas.com/state-agile-marketing-2018/
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Zoe MerchantAgile marketing in the B2B space
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The era of agile marketing

The era of agile marketing

Marketing is changing; business leaders expect measurable results from their marketing investment. Marketeers working to deliver maximum impact and engagement in B2B marketing are facing scrutiny and enormous pressure to get things done quickly, with a small team and deliver tangible ROI. Long gone are those halcyon days of large marketing teams, big budgets and long, slow burning campaigns with months spent in planning and a year of execution.

Pushing the boundaries of traditional marketing

The dinosaurs of marketing may be gnashing their teeth at the erosion of their budgets and long lunches. But the dynamic modern marketer is stepping up and rubbing their hands in glee at the opportunity this presents to push the boundaries of traditional marketing and reach audiences in innovative ways.

There is a new way of thinking and working which combines rapid time to market with continual improvement to create the best marketing approach. This in turn will maximise results and, therefore, return on investment – welcome to the era of agile marketing.

A lean approach to marketing

Agile marketing allows you to get back to basics. It enables you to strip out all the unnecessary bells and whistles and instead focuses on experimentation and validated learning through measuring iterative cycles of activity.

The goal is to quickly build a plan based on content and marketing activities that deliver the best marketing outcome. It’s a common sense approach to marketing – based on testing a proposition, idea or campaign and then building on its successful elements.

Too many times in the past I’ve seen marketing fail due to bloated campaigns, with poorly conceived content, and a badly executed marketing mix.

Agile ways of working really helps you to step up a notch and improve the quality of what you’re delivering whilst producing tangible results. As Peter Drucker said “Doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right.”

Having spent 20 years working across both corporate enterprise and dynamic start ups, it’s clear to me that by relaxing some of the marketing planning disciplines, and taking ideas from the Lean methodology, marketers can transform how they go about B2B marketing.

Rather than focusing on the full definition and detailed planning of a marketing campaign at the outset – Bright focus on taking a proposition out to a market with the minimum viable messaging and mix of activities, to test, learn and improve.

This iterative approach means that messages are rapidly sharpened, and the marketing mix can be adjusted and scaled until you have a fully-fledged and measurable approach.

So why should you consider agile marketing?

Often companies begin with an idea for a service proposition or product that they think people will want to buy. Spending months perfecting the positioning, marketing launch and campaign planning without ever sharing the marketing messaging or testing the suitability of key activities (even in a basic form) to a prospective client for feedback. Then they launch the product or service into market and don’t see the traction that they anticipated.

This is often because they didn’t speak with prospects to understand whether or not the product, or service proposition, was positioned in an interesting way; or if the potential benefits help to solve a real business challenge and were clearly articulated.

Ultimately, the audience’s indifference to the offering – shown through a lack of results and poor sales – demonstrates that the target audience either did not understand or did not care about the idea in the first place. The proposition fails, the marketing department gets the blame, and the cycle starts over again…

This is particularly challenging (and expensive!) in B2B professional service and tech marketing since you are often dealing with extremely complex products and services that are very high in value and have a long, costly sales cycle. This means you don’t see marketing return on investment from sales revenue for 6 – 12 months, after the launch of a product or service into market, and that you’re still investing in marketing in the meantime.

Communicate your value proposition to prospects and clients

Effectively communicating a value proposition, and ensuring you convey the value that your solution brings, is hard work. You need to show you understand the challenge your prospective clients are facing, highlight how your proposition will solve them, and showcase tangible value through the benefits that it will bring.

This must all then be backed up with proof points via your credentials. Phew! Exhausting, hard to do and expensive to take to market – not just in terms of money but also in the resources required to work out the best way to position, market and then sell.

Using an iterative agile approach allows you to reduce waste by experimenting and then removing, and/or improving, elements of your marketing plan that do not work as effectively as expected.

Agile marketing the chance to experiment, quickly, and discard things that do not work. Not only does this mean that you can go to market faster, with minimum elements of the marketing mix, but you can also use validated learning to examine the data you collect in order to measure the impact of your campaign and build on its success.

Test, learn and improve

You can start off by validating one or two elements of your marketing. For example, you can test the key messages to ensure they are compelling with a small group of your target audience, test design elements on a web page or social channels, and take forward the best performers and continue to build your plan.

Each agile marketing sprint that you go through improves the mix further and informs on what you need to adjust as you move through different stages of product or service maturity.

This is enormously beneficial in competitive markets, and for enterprise, where marketing may find it hard to break out of reactionary mode and be proactive in order to get propositions out to market fast, build market share and then farm demand.

  • Combined with real time marketing, and the speed and measurability of digital marketing, agile gives you an opportunity to work smarter and build a viable marketing plan, whilst experimenting with market segments, messages and the marketing mix.
  • You also have the advantage that, by the time you’ve iterated through a few sprints, you will have added some early adopter clients that can provide you with established case studies to showcase as you mature your marketing campaign.
  • By taking some of the best ways of working from a startup and entrepreneurial culture, and applying it to your marketing in this controlled framework of agile marketing, you can explore more creative and innovative ideas, test them and add those that work to your marketing plan.
  • The focus on being data driven gives you tangible evidence for the marketing investments being made. This means that you know that they are supporting and contributing to the wider business goals. Peter Drucker was right: “What gets measured gets improved”. Otherwise, how could marketing be held accountable?

I can’t stress enough how important it is to test, learn and improve. If there is one thing that makes embedding agile marketing great it’s that it provides a solid framework for marketing to do just that, and to take the best ideas forward.

It is undoubtedly a lot more satisfying to run campaigns that are effective and deliver results. That’s what I set out to do every time I work with a new client or review the work Bright delivers to our existing ones – agile marketing makes that possible.

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Zoe MerchantThe era of agile marketing
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5 Reasons why agile marketing is key to your exit strategy

5 Reasons why agile marketing is key to your exit strategy

Marketing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when looking at selling your business, or at buying one, but it should sit firmly alongside commercial and financial due diligence. In the same way that a marketing strategy is key to any business looking for rapid growth, it is also a good benchmark of the business’ strength and its potential to deliver a return on investment.

A good marketing strategy will underpin and complement the key elements that business investors look for: strong financials, potential to grow and a competitive position in the marketplace. Mike Altendorf, a London-based advisor and investor, observes that “marketing plays a big role in the value of a business. Buyers will often look for businesses that have an effective and proven marketing strategy and delivery – but it’s also key to attracting the attention of the buyer in the first place.”

So, what are the top five reasons why marketing is key to your exit strategy?

For further insight into why agile marketing is a critical driver for growth , download our eBook: “Marketing as an Accelerator”

1. A strong sales pipeline

Marketing is key to every aspect of a strong sales pipeline. It plays a big part in generating leads, securing repeat sales and turning prospects into new clients.

Organic growth can only take you so far, so a strong pipeline –  created by strategic agile marketing – is a key element of fast growth. It indicates the ability to adapt and capitalise on market change, resulting in a higher potential profit, a better return on investment and therefore a better valuation – making the difference between a mediocre sell price and an excellent one

2. Sharp, consistent messaging

A sharp, consistent message comes from a strong value proposition and expert marketing. Being able to wear your brand on your sleeve means potential buyers know exactly what your business stands for and what you’re selling, giving a good idea of what they are investing in. Marketing ensures that the value proposition is front-of-mind and never wavers; it cuts across everything that potential customers, buyers or investors, see, hear or feel from the company.

3. A clear brand and effective website

Brands sell. They sell products and they sell businesses; they generate superior leads and attract high-quality investors. And websites are often the first point of contact with a brand. When done well, they are an opportunity to showcase the best that the company has to offer and an asset to the sales pipeline. But when done badly, they are detrimental to fast growth. Investors are unlikely to consider a company if little effort has been put into its brand, of which a good website is a key element. It’s important to make that great first impression – then carry it through to closing.

4. High brand awareness

As important as a brand is, it is absolutely worthless if no one knows about it. And this is where marketing comes into its own. A great marketing strategy is essential to high brand awareness and the best strategy combines creative ideas, partnerships, great content and leveraging customer referrals. Data-driven metrics are also essential as they provide a constant review of the marketing components in play.

If the above factors are implemented, the application of the strategy should, in theory, catch the attention of potential customers, but it’s the metrics that will catch the buyer’s or investor’s eye. You can’t argue with the hard numbers, and if they show a growing, profitable business and a busy pipeline of new clients, it puts the seller in strong stead with those wishing to buy.

Learn more about branding for Mergers and Acquisitions in this article.

5. Capitalising on the potential of social media

Out of the 3.5 billion internet users around the world, 3.03 billion are active on social media, giving businesses two important opportunities:

  • the chance to build a greater brand awareness on platforms specifically aimed at target groups, and
  • the potential to give customers, prospects or investors a deeper, more personal connection with the brand.

The reason it works so well is because companies can show personality, and interact with potential customers, clients and industry leaders on a one-to-one, more personalised level. It builds brand awareness through thought-leadership and content-sharing, as well as building an emotional connection with competitions, giveaways or referrals. A strong marketing strategy will ensure that it’s a tool that leads to potentially lucrative relationships and sales

Marketing maximises the value of your business

A strong marketing strategy is one of the core elements of any exit strategy. Combined with its ability to enable high growth, it is something all leaders should be encouraged to implement at the beginning of their business journey for the five reasons featured above.

This can be achieved by partnering with expert marketers in-house or bringing in outside consultants. Either way, aligning your sales and marketing, and establishing a clear brand are essential to the longevity and profitability and, ultimately, saleability of your business.

Read more about how marketing is key to high growth and exit strategies in Bright’s new eBook: “Marketing as an Accelerator” – including commentary from business leaders and investors.

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Zoe Merchant5 Reasons why agile marketing is key to your exit strategy
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With social media, let’s take over the world

With social media, let’s take over the world

Pinky: Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight? Brain: The same thing we do every night, Pinky – try to take over the world!

This could be a typical conversation between two B2C marketers, anywhere in the world, who are primed and ready to use every weapon at their disposal to reach their audience. This is pretty much what the likes of Coca-Cola, Nike and other giant consumer brands have done –– taken over the world.

But what if this could also be true for B2B companies? You’re probably not buying it – so let me explain.

Since the emergence of Social Media channels, some B2B companies have spotted the opportunity to reach their audiences – LinkedIn, SlideShare and Twitter are examples of where B2B brands have begun to take the space. There seems to be an unwritten agreement that only the so-called “professional” Social Media channels are valuable or – fit for purpose – for B2B brands.

Although this statement probably held some weight when B2B content was limited to serious content, we certainly have the right to challenge this status-quo and question its validity.

Bring your audience where you want them to be

Most people will tell you that you need to be where your audience is, but it is equally important to be able to take your audience to places that they haven’t yet been. On the so-called professional Social Media channels, you can find both serious and story-telling content. But why not use non-professional Social Media channels as a chance to connect with customers on a deeper emotional level?

Many of us would be annoyed by a B2B white paper pop-up promotion on Facebook or a 6 second salesy B2B promotional video on Instagram. But that does not mean that we cannot use these channels to offer something different, something fitting, to connect with the audiences accessing these platforms. It is not to say that we should all-together abandon the so-called professional platforms – but we should complement them with other social media channels. The end goal is to create a strategy that encourages the creation of a personalised digital ecosystem, to further fulfil economic and branded goals.

This no doubt comes with great challenges for B2B companies because you will need to have a pretty strong Social Media strategy to do so. But some socalled “un-sexy B2B industries” have already succeeded.

Social Media is like playing Jazz

Maersk is one of the best examples of a successful brand on social media. Jonathan Wichmann, the Social Media leader has managed to make the shipping industry ‘sexy’ and has created a very strong brand. They have created a fine balance juggling between professional and non-professional platforms, to create different experiences for different audiences. And to avoid straying into the territory of dry, boring and safe posts on Social Media, remember his quote:

“As a jazz musician you respond to the moment and the vibe. Great jazz musicians play a new version every time. You get closer to the audience. Continuing the jazz analogy: There is a lot of improvisation in it. You just need a clearly defined structure. You must not try to control it just as you cannot control the rhythm of jazz. It evolves with the situation and the audience’s feedback, like the most advanced kind of rhythmical music.”

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Zoe MerchantWith social media, let’s take over the world
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To or through Partner Marketing – What’s the difference?

To or through Partner Marketing – What’s the difference?

Guest Blog:  Jacqui Sasserath is the founder of Channeliser, a matching service for IT companies looking for IT partners. In this blog, Jacqui describes the 3 key actions to create a strong and successful marketing partnership.

We @channeliser are frequently asked what is the most effective use of marketing spend?

1. Should we focus on partner enablement and building understanding of our proposition so that they can, in turn take the message to their customers?
2. Or should we be generating demand with direct prospecting and customer marketing?
3. Or perhaps a hybrid of the two – operating a marketing campaign to customers but doing it “through” my partners?

And the answer is simple – know your partners!

Capture the “to partner” value proposition

You know the value of your product to the customer, so now is the time to re-evaluate what is the value to the partner?

It will be something quite different. Try and list the 5 things that could turn a partner’s head and capture their attention about your offering – it may be as simple as incentives, it may be the lack of complexity and ease of doing business with you and it may delve into the technical functionality.

Remember most good resellers have many other vendors vying for their attention and resources so you need to standout and really have an engaging message as to why a partnership is of benefit to all.

Profile your partners

Now turn your attention to the complex matrix that is your partner community. Individual profiling should help you see if they target a specific vertical, do they operate in a niche sector, or focus on small businesses, or only deploy in the cloud and what other vendor products make up their portfolio and proposition.

This vital exercise is something frequently forgotten but is absolutely essential to ensure you are getting the most from the market opportunity. Having partners that sell into different market segments will not only keep them happy as they will not compete too heavily with other partners but will also ensure you are spreading your marketing messages across the widest possible market opportunity.

If you discover you have gaps in your market coverage try Channeliser to find new partners.

If you are truly partner centric – ask the partners!

You are now ready to target your partners with the right questions to the right people with the right messaging.

Ask marketing if they would like to run a joint campaign with a carefully thought through messages? Ask sales and pre-sales what they need to help sell your solutions. Ask the CEO how satisfied they are with your overall performance as a vendor and what you can do to improve?

Embedded in each of these “asks” are the key messages that relate to that target audience and based on your “understanding” of the partner.

This isn’t a blanket email to your whole partner community, this is a well-thought out strategic plan with tailored individual messages and an open format for discussion with each partner.

Their level of engagement will guide you as to who is going to be “with” you over time

And their answers will guide you as to the decision and make up of your marketing budget; to customers and to partners and the mix of through partner marketing.

– Jacqui Sasserath, Founder of Channeliser

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Zoe MerchantTo or through Partner Marketing – What’s the difference?
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