CMO point of view: Testing agile marketing to drive results
“Those who can best manage change will survive.”
Whether you attribute this paraphrased statement to Charles Darwin or someone else, it’s as relevant today as it’s ever been – particularly for Chief Marketing Officers and senior marketers.
To see why, just look around at unparalleled disruption from Brexit, Covid-19 and environmental factors such as climate change, combined with the pace of digital transformation. Technology and data are the catalyst for keeping pace and adapting. For those of us in the business of marketing technology and the products and services that surround it, campaigns have to be just as fast (and agile) to yield sustainable success.
I know it’s easy to say (or write) that CMOs need to leverage agility at pace. But we all know it’s not that easy to incorporate agility and run effective brand building and integrated campaigns. Sometimes it’s down to not having the right tools, not having the time to research what your competitors are up to, or how to change an internal culture used to waterfall ways of working.
Agile is no longer part of start-up thinking — but it’s being adopted by some of the biggest global players
Transforming all this takes time, and that’s a commodity few CMOs have these days. If this all sounds familiar to you, involving external experts (such as Bright), who specialise in agile marketing, can help you work out the best way to approach embedding new ways of working into your team and the wider organisation without impacting the day-to-day marketing tasks you still have to deliver on throughout transformation.
Getting started with agile marketing
Injecting agile might sound simple, but it involves a change of mindset in your team culture, new processes and sometimes tools or tech. If you don’t have the right skills in your team today, then seeking outside support accelerates that change, minimises risk and avoids the common issues that could undermine the transition. Use a Proof of Concept to research, test and learn what would work best for your organisation and team to start the journey, maintain momentum and embed the right model.
Fintech company injects agility to drive better marketing results
To give you a better idea of this all works, we’ve broken down the true story of how a CMO from a Fintech software and services company championed agile marketing transformation.
Specialising in providing real-time transaction control and enterprise integrity solutions, their sales cycle usually falls somewhere between six and nine months. However, they wanted to accelerate results over a three-month period, and with target accounts in the US and UK, they needed to drive results in both of these territories.
With all this in mind, the CMO wanted to understand if an agile marketing approach was the way to go. Our team needed to prove that it would help the organisation achieve the following:
1. Become more results focused
The agile method of testing, learning and iterating would let the team take more risks, try new approaches and know early-on if their efforts were working.
2. Achieve rapid time to market ‘Sprints’ had helped them get their software to market faster, so they wanted to apply the same approach to their marketing strategies.
[Marketing strategies] need to be scientific. CMOs need to set hypotheses and learn and optimise from every experiment – Zoe Merchant, MD at Bright
3. Become more adaptable Knowing that software succeeds only when it’s been developed iteratively with a Proof of Concept (PoC), a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) or prototype, they wanted the same iterative approach when going to market to cover the expected, and unexpected, over the three-month campaign.
4. Make data-driven decisions The marketing team needed a steady source of data to quickly understand their performance and validate and share what they were doing.
The end game: 12 high quality opportunities in 12 weeks
On top of these results, the Fintech firm gained a framework that they can use to scale as they grow and build more campaigns. Alongside the results, this is a major value-add from the journey.
The client can now execute ideas, understand their needs, and meet expectations much faster. They get continuous feedback from marketing, sales, and their data, helping them align their teams with results and insight. What’s more, they now feel free to experiment with less risk, and confident that marketing with agility and pace will support their future business goals.
Agile Hubs are your key to unlocking integrated, sustainable marketing transformation
Digital transformation has been in the spotlight for nearly a decade and it remains well entrenched in the average business agenda today. But what about your marketing? How can it adapt to keep up with a changing business whilst meeting market demands?
There’s no doubt that organisation-wide transformation takes time, but marketing often seems to be preoccupied with business as usual or last on the list. Perhaps that’s because there are multiple forces at work in marketing that you’d have to bring into the transformation process. These typically include driving efficiencies, controlling costs, developing insight to drive continual improvement, and making effective use of emerging technology whilst improving your customer experience. And, whilst you make changes to your ways of working, you still need your marketing to demonstrate ROI, realise value in the short term and meet your business goals – smooth marketing transformation is therefore vital to the business as a whole.
It’s a lot to manage, think about and plan for all at once. So, where do you start? It is possible to transform your marketing to drive results that support your business goals, all whilst maintaining activity, but it’s a complex process. Having worked with many companies who are embarking on change, we know how important it is to approach this in a systematic, yet adaptable way – through testing, learning and building on success.
Driving results whilst changing at pace
Introducing Agile Marketing Hubs – your personal resource of marketing expertise and innovation. It’s where your in-house team, suppliers and specialists come together to work as one, strong, fully blended team of experts to effectively embed agile ways of working into your culture and operations.
Through hands-on experience in agile delivery of your marketing content, you’ll see greater productivity, energy and collaboration in your marketing team. Agile hubs are the answer to complex marketing transformation and a proven alternative to restrictive traditional techniques or reactive, ad-hoc and unstructured ways of working.
Demonstrating the value of your marketing
As you continue to work in an agile way, continually learning, building and improving, your team will begin to naturally work together more efficiently and effectively. You’ll also enable more cross-collaboration between different stakeholders and teams in the business – encouraging valuable knowledge-sharing and proving the power of your marketing to drive business goals.
Our tech and consulting clients in high growth and large enterprises have all reported seeing the following benefits from adopting an Agile Marketing Hub:
Faster time to market
Data-driven decision making
Proving marketing ROI at pace
Productivity and up-skilling
Clear KP and objective setting
Scalable agility and innovation
In our recent survey, 75% of those who have been practicing agile marketing for more than a year had a better understanding of the power and impact of their marketing. It’s clear that these benefits increase exponentially with prolonged practice of an agile approach.
Fired up to ignite agility in your marketing?
As your company undergoes digital transformation or needs to rapidly adapt in uncertain times, your marketing needs to keep pace with the market and maintain daily operations. This is a complex challenge that requires time and resources as well as constant support from business leaders and marketing experts. Many struggle to get started and simply lack the tools, support or know-how to embed agile ways of working into their marketing.
With Bright’s Agile Marketing Hubs, you can ignite agility and ensure seamless, integrated and sustainable marketing transformation – with the tools, tactics and concepts you need to drive better results and meet business goals.
Ready to get started? Get in touch to set up an Agile Hub for your marketing today.
Download our report on the Future of B2B marketing to find out the latest insights in B2B marketing and how agile plays a role in transforming the future of 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
What is Agile Marketing?
This is the era of agile marketing. The ascendancy of experimentation and strategic thinking. The reign of data-driven insights. But what does that mean for B2B marketing?
Ensuring a bright 2020 by keeping pace with market change
If you’re active in B2B marketing, you know that change in the tech and consulting industry is nothing new – and nothing to fear. Within the past decade, we’ve seen digital disruption and transformation drive market change in service and product delivery and impacting how we go to market and reach our target audiences effectively.
In B2B marketing, we’ve dramatically changed how we plan, manage and run campaigns – whether it’s putting data insights to work by injecting agility or using personalisation to keep up with shifting markets. The rise of digitally native audiences has also forced B2B marketing to move much of its activity online.
Now, as we enter a bright new decade, we’re about to see even more changes – our ways of working need to evolve to maintain pace and engagement, and use data and insights effectively to build relationships and convert the right people at the right time. To help you prepare, we’ve gathered the top five trends in B2B marketing this year.
1. Agile marketing will take charge
Centred around collective, cross-functional and collaborative working in which projects are completed in short periods called sprints, agile marketing lays the foundation for continually testing and iterating your marketing ideas – proving what works and what doesn’t to ensure better marketing results, business outcomes and overall ROI.
But agile working isn’t just about process and technology – there are cultural considerations to bring your organisation along on the journey. McKinsey research found that companies who adopt agile ways of working simultaneously achieve greater customer centricity, faster time to market, higher revenue growth, lower costs, and a more engaged workforce. Learn more about B2B agile marketing.
Why it will matter in 2020
B2B marketers are under more pressure than ever to demonstrate results from marketing investment, and this is expected to drive a rise in agile marketing adoption in 2020. Firms will need to understand and apply new ways of working to align and meet business goals whilst keeping up with ever-changing markets. Agile marketing brings the best of entrepreneurial thinking, start up ways of working and allows enterprises to innovate at scale.
If you aren’t already, this is your chance to really understand your buyer journey and make sure your marketing is driving revenue at every stage of the client lifecycle. By becoming more agile in your approach, you’ll take advantage of the latest trends and market changes to place your customer at the centre of your business.
2. Partner experience comes of age
Partner experience (PX) has long been a neglected area of marketing. If you want to continue to grow and maximise every revenue opportunity available, then looking at your channel strategy is crucial. The key is to treat your partners as a proper audience – understand their user journey and what they need at every stage.
With an enablement perspective, you can exploit new market opportunities and unlock revenue through your channel. Injecting agility into PX is a great way to start small, such as a partner accelerator or incubator for select partners to supercharge their sales and marketing efforts; or territory specific partner acquisition campaigns to onboard more partners where you need them most. You can test, learn and build on success to create a solid and scalable PX experience.
Why it will matter in 2020
Forester predicts that marketing decision makers will rank improving partner experience on par with improving customer experience in 2020, and both will rise to more than 50%. That’s a significant shift that matches the speed of change we’re seeing in the tech industry. Injecting agility is critical if organisations are going to keep up with competition and build more channel share.
Give your partners the experience they need to support and sell more of your tech and services, and don’t be afraid to stand out and make better use of video, immersive and social prospecting to accelerate traction within and for your channel.
3. Personalisation at the heart of B2B
Personalisation has been a marketing buzzword for years and the concept of creating personas to form better buyer journeys shouldn’t be new to you. However, we’re about to see increased personalisation in B2B, specifically with a fresh look at how we’re maintaining continuous communication and opening up meaningful dialogue with our key audiences and clients.
Why it will matter in 2020
Gartner research shows that organisations that have fully invested in all types of personalisation will outsell companies that have not by 20% in 2020. B2B marketers need to step back and think about how they can become more relevant to their key audiences to drive engagement and build relationships for the long term. This must be approached strategically with a willingness to rapidly test and learn in order to be credible and authentic.
Often, marketing can be heavy handed – rushing in with a sales message on a first communication (no one likes a pushy first date!). By using data and insight about the organisational state and target audience, you will be able to craft and deliver relevant, timely and engaging comms. Don’t rush building a credible relationship – be authentic. Senior decision makers have no interest in continuing dialogue with shouty, salesy firms that don’t effectively demonstrate that they have something of value to offer in exchange for their attention.
4. Predictive analytics will become a key driver to success
One way to support your personalisation techniques is with better data insights from predictive analytics. Predictive analytics is the concept of using your data insights to measure marketing activities, identify trends and predict opportunities to create unique, tailored experiences across each stage of your client buyer journey and throughout their client lifecycle.
You probably have data sat within your existing systems and tools that isn’t being effectively used to identify intent and accelerate your buyer journey. Gartner predicts that profitability will replace customer experience as the CMO’s No. 1 strategic priority in 2022. Using data and insight to make strategic decisions and to drive agility and pace in your go to market strategies will be key to understanding marketing performance and contribution to business goals and profitability.
Evaluate how you’re obtaining, measuring and analysing your data and most importantly, if you’re making the most of your data insights. Then, adopt an AI and predictive analytic tool to deliver insight that will support driving marketing effectiveness and align with business goals to demonstrate success at a business contribution level through marketing performance.
5. Automation and integration will start to drive autonomous marketing
Automation tools help marketers schedule and publish content, manage teams and analyse data from multiple sources in one, centralised place. With the proliferation of marketing tools, more streamlined integration will enable better insight and allow marketers to focus on maximising the client experience at every stage of the buyer journey.
Manual tasks are starting to become more easily automated, giving you more time to devote to value-adding activities, such as writing longer-form content and offering greater customisation of your services. Find out more about B2B marketing automation.
Why it will matter in 2020
Evaluating and integrating your existing toolset will create quick wins and allow automation to run sequences autonomously to improve conversion rates and engagement with your key audiences. And, automation isn’t just for external marketing – internal comms will benefit from applying the tools, tactics and automation internally to drive and measure employee engagement.
Marketers need to adopt new ways of working to make the most of your marketing technology. With an agile approach, you’ll zoom in on areas of underperformance to drive improvements, and overperformance to understand and repurpose successful automation into other areas of activity.
2020 will be the year for progressive transformation within B2B marketing. Traditional marketing just won’t make the cut going forward. By understanding how best to adopt agile marketing as a new way of working, streamlining processes and combining the right tools and tech, you’ll be able to adapt and drive change whilst putting your data insights to work to build stronger, clearer marketing strategies for an ever-evolving market.
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 TCS, BCG, CommonMS 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.
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:
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
Go to market preparation and campaign planning begins including defining a full marketing mix
Campaign elements are created including data building, writing content, designing collaterals etc. – this can be time consuming and costly
Big push / launch to go to market – elements executed into market based on a defined timeline
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:
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
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.
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.
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)
Infographics (we all love an infographic!)
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: [email protected]
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.
Guest blog: Julie Provino, from VeryHR talks about how to be an inspiring leader.
How many of these articles have I come across which constantly strive to make you feel full of energy and motivated about who you are as a leader, company owner or simply as a human being. I’ve personally looked into probably hundreds of different leadership principles, from the work hard play hard 90’s ethos, to the heart centered leadership which is increasing in influence at the moment. Have any of these truly understood and conveyed a definitive rule book around leadership and how to be successful within our organisational cultures? I have yet to see one.
Let’s focus on you
Have all of these principles been enough to truly change who you are or how you act around people? I, like many others and maybe even yourself have downloaded many apps, subscribed to many tweets, blogs, podcasts, ted talks and magazines to get a constant source of ideas and reminders of what I strive to be each and every day. My bookshelf is groaning from the weight of books which I will read one day, following the latest fads and simply gathering dust, lots of ideas and little action. If you ever do find that definitive book with all the right principles and theories, please let me know.
For me, I have come to a different conclusion in my own mind around leadership and what it involves. In order to define what leadership means to me, I will always start with asking myself about what mark I want to leave on the business world, on my world. I want to be innovative, lead authentically, encourage others to be the best that they possibly can be and constantly push my business to break convention whilst maintaining a work life balance that suits my needs. In my world, this is used to be quickly followed by a “dream on” statement.
So the questions that I started asking myself and that I still ask every day are:
“Who am I? “,
“What resources are in my hands right now?”,
“Who do I want to be?” and
“How do I want to leave my mark on the world?”
These are questions that allow me to find the authentic me, the natural leader within me. Not someone else’s expectation of what my leadership should be.
Like many others, I run my own business. I have deadlines, I strive to meet my client’s targets and maintain my own personal goals. I run several diaries at the same time, one for work, one for the family, another for my now non-existent social life. From time to time, I will set some time aside to reflect, plan, and re-organise my life using the questions I have asked above, even then every so often its easy to return to old habits.
And I know I am not the only one? Right? Rings a bell? Does that make me a bad leader or should I say inspirer? Do we not all slip from time to time? As long as it makes us stronger or better it’s a good thing, isn’t it? Because there is no failure, there is only feedback to be the better version of me I strive to be
Where I have come from helps me find my direction
I have found that seeing where I have come from has helped me find my direction and see where I am going. So, who are you really? How have you come to where you are at today? Are you capable of telling your story to others?
Take some time to draw a horizontal line, and start plotting along it your professional career, from how it all began to where you are today, to where you want to be tomorrow and beyond.
Ask yourself those questions “Who Am I?”, “What resources do I have right now?”, “Who do I want to be?”, “What Mark do I want to leave on the world?”
Notice, are there any trends, or people you have met along the way who have had a defining impact on who you are today? Who are they? What was their story? What you experienced in their impact on you is their leadership, the way they inspired you is their influence.
Did they feel they were a leader?
Did they inspire you without knowing it?
Have your defining moments being influenced by someone intentionally leading you or were they just doing what they do?
Were they being there authentic selves?
Where are your key achievements and learnings
Looking at your timeline what are your key achievements and learnings, is that not enough to start inspiring others from? Is there going to be a time when you are fully ready or can you inspire now? Why put off what you can already do? I guarantee that today you influenced at least one person without knowing it.
In my role as HR advisor, I see many so called leaders taking on a role: the friendly boss, the democratic leader, the empire builder, the David Brent. Well here’s the breaking news. Like I said before there is no definitive rule book for leadership. Some leadership styles will perform complete lobotomies on people and others will get you running for the hills. What works for one will not always work for everyone.
Understanding who you are and what your story is will bring you closer to being fully authentic and aligned with what you are looking to achieve. Behind your story will be your values and beliefs, what you are seeking to achieve, what your company seeks to achieve is all within you.
What more noble cause to follow than the one that you have set for yourself? Others will be inspired by that. Just think about that for a moment, when you are running from one meeting to the next, picking up voicemails, and creating 30 to do lists, how can things be different for you to inspire others? What can you do in your own leadership that will put you on track to be the leader you want to be? The direction is within you.
My own timeline and asking those questions gave me insight into my own values and beliefs. For me, I value creating win-win-win, situations. A win for me, a win for those I do business with and my team, and a win for the direction I want to travel in. If I do not achieve these three wins then why am I in business in this modern era?
My ethos around leadership is based on this. It is to be “Good, kind and present”, be good in my intention to create these win-win-win situations through my leadership. Be kind in the way I deal with those around me as they are my potential for success, and be Present in the now, because giving my 100% presence to what is before me will give me the 100% presence of those I inspire.
Presence brings with it the energy and ability to innovate, to be flexible, to be creative and to find solutions. Presence also brings the guts to make the tough decisions and the drive to get through and complete any challenge that is set before me. It allows me to foster the right cultural environment to create success allowing everyone to be inspired and authentic in who they are and where they are going.
What is presence? How do you give it? How does it Bring Innovation, flexibility, and creativity? How does mindfulness and presence bring rapport? That is a discussion for another time my friend.