Strategy

The 3 Building Blocks of Agile Marketing

Although many forward-thinking and innovative marketers are already reaping the benefits of the more efficient, agile way of working, with 71% of our survey respondents adopting agile techniques to help them get to market faster this is a common first reaction when discussing agile marketing transformation. You might understand the concept in the general sense, but few can identify what agile marketing actually is, and perhaps even more importantly, what it isn’t.  

Incorporating agility is not about making quick, unfounded decisions as fast as possible to meet a deadline, but about strong, data-driven decision making at pace reacting to market change and continuously learning for optimised results that provide key takeaways for the next sprint of the project. 

There are three core aspects of the agile approach, all of which work together in a successful agile marketing delivery. Check out each component in terms of why it’s important to marketing as a wider function as well as why it is a focus of marketing with agility and pace. If you’d like a more in-depth explanation of what agile is, before deep diving into its components, see our introductory guide. 

Creating the culture 

As the first building block, People is one of the most overlooked and underrated assets of any business. Your team are the driving force that pushes your business forwardan unlimited creative resource and original idea generator that knows no bounds and a big part of the products or services you provide.   

When incorporating agility into your marketing strategy, it is people that will deliver to deadlines, meet campaign KPIs and ultimately ensure the success of this project and beyond.  

The core principles that drive success in an agile team are ownership and transparency. Individuals take responsibility for what they produce, avoiding siloed work by providing transparency to the rest of the team, or Agile Hub.   

Before any project begins, a culture of change and learning with team members is established, creating togetherness, alignment and a positive attitude towards achieving a shared objective. Stakeholder mapping is conducted so as to understand existing processes, dividing roles and responsibilities in a strategic, efficient way. With the internal marketing team’s skills and capabilities reviewed to identify gaps and to help identify how agile marketing experts, such as Bright, can best support throughout the project.  

The natural pace of agile marketing makes it an exciting environment for employees who are willing to embrace a move away from a more traditional approach and they are likely to come away with invaluable learnings for future projects. Without realising, you’ve created a more attractive place to work.  

 Pragmatic process and ways of working 

The second element of an agile marketing strategy is process. As we work towards the set KPIs, embedding new ways of working and improving performance is key.  

Within the sphere of B2B, marketing professionals can be all-too quick to deny the flaws of current processes, instead looking to blame external factors for underperformance. In fact, it’s often only when a project is exposed to a fresh pair of eyes, exploring the unexplored, that holes, flaws and areas for improvement within existing processes come to light. 

When adopting an agile approach, you actively seek and identify issues and risks, as well as the dependencies and barriers that can affect the outcome. By being proactive, you not only minimise the likelihood of risks becoming issues, but you also have a better idea about dependencies and can establish effective workarounds as and when required.   

By applying the test, learn, iterate model to developing processes, businesses are able to make tweaks and amendments to optimise activity based on data combined with previous experience to establish a closed feedback loop and cultivate continuous improvement. In addition, workplaces encourage a culture of learning within teams, empowering internal teams and providing the know-how to continually achieve fantastic results.  

Optimised technology and data driven decisioning  

Technology is seamlessly integrated throughout the marketing function, enabling pace, data visibility and informed decision making. This may sound too ideological; tech is often seen as a barrier and too regularly large investments are made only to be side-lined by excel docs, but it’s the third and final building block.  

Technology has revolutionised the marketing function to allow for capabilities marketing managers could only dream of a few years ago. According to a report from 2018, there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each and every day, a number that is likely to have accelerated along with the growth of the Internet of Things.  2018, there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created each and every day, a number that is likely to have accelerated along with the growth of the Internet of Things.  

In order to inform your strategies and create data-driven decisions, it’s essential to put the right tech in place to gain actionable insight. Avoid vanity stats and focus on what can effect change in your results, having a large number of visits to a landing page has little value if they don’t engage with any content on the page or convert.  

Adopting agile ways of working removes the perceived barriers outlined above, recognising the role played by technology, championing the use of automation, CRM and project management software. Map your existing martech, identify the gaps and create an adoption plan to ensure your technology is being used effectively to support the wider marketing team. Learn more about how you can optimise your technology with our recent blog post, Making the most of your martech stack   

Could your team benefit from an agile marketing approach? Contact us today to talk further about your current marketing strategy and how the fantastic team here at Bright will be able to help.

Lydia KirbyThe 3 Building Blocks of Agile Marketing
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Agile Marketing in Action: Adapting to Survive and Thrive

The Bright webinar, Agile marketing in action: Adapting to survive and thrivewent live on Wednesday, 29 April, 11am and safe to say we loved the experience! The virtual event attracted marketing professionals across a diverse range of industries, and it was a brilliant opportunity for us to drive the conversation on all things agile.  

So, What is Agile Marketing?

The session kicked off, after brief introductions to speakers, by defining the term agile, exploring the success of agility in a broader sense in relation to efficiency, pace, innovation, and reduction of issues and risks. Three core values and principles from the original manifesto were then drawn upon in more detail: 

  • Customer focus – spotlight on the buyer journey and how to engage and interact along the way 
  • Experimentation – using a test, learn, iterate approach to generate data-driven insights and results 
  • Minimal viable approach – using short, adaptive strategies to demonstrate success 

Given the current circumstances affecting businesses across the globe, it was important to mention the COVID-19 outbreak to set context and avoid the overused term ‘unprecedented circumstances’, from dominating the conversation. To do so, we explored why agile marketing is no longer a nicety but now business critical and how this ability to adapt to market disruption is crucial for companies of all shapes and sizes.  

We also discussed the challenges our clients and most other marketers are having to deal with at the momentincluding frozen budgets, organisational paralysis and poor change managementThat said, we are starting to see the most forward-thinking firms focus their attention on lead generation and client retention activities to ensure pipelines don’t fall off a cliff. This means they can build momentum and new business to safeguard their businesses and meet revised sales targets for later this year.  

Sian Heaphy, Agile Lead at Bright shared the results of our recent Future of B2B Marketing Report diving into the detail of the survey we undertook and its key findings as well as exploring what these insights actually mean for marketers now. Summing up with the benefits of agile marketing supported by the survey findings and the long-term, tangible benefits we uncovered for teams that adopt an agile way of working  

“It’s given teams greater flexibility, transparency and control over their project tasks. They’re more empowered to collaborate, experiment and react quickly to change when their ideas are validated through the test, learn and iterate approachcritical success factors for resilience.” – Sian Heaphy   

Next, Adrian Brooks, Change Lead at British Medical Association (BMA) talked about his experience of introducing agile marketing to take a new proposition to marketThis lively discussion detailed the BMA’s journey to inject agility and pace into their marketing practices, barriers to adoption (and how they overcame them) and the results and long-term benefits achieved through the adoption of agile marketing 

The session ended with an interactive Q&A, with Adrian and Sian fielding questions from the audience. There were lots of thought-provoking questions we didn’t have time to cover so we’ve created a complete Q&A below for reference.

Q&A

How would you implement agile as a way of working in a traditional environment? 

The key is to start small. You aren’t going to become an agile marketing team overnight. Find a pilot project (proposition development and / or go to market campaigns work really well for a pilot) where you can test a hypothesis using new ways of working.  

Work with an experienced partner (like Bright) and select a handful of your team to work on the pilot and establish an agile marketing hub (3-5 members is a good number) and get them bought into the vision and what you’re trying to achieve. Give them the support and resource they need to run the pilot independently from other activity, taking into account any BAU work they are responsible for.  

I see in the research and the Future of Marketing Report the biggest barrier to getting started with agile marketing is lack of buy-in from leadership – do you have any tips on overcoming this? 

At BMA we were lucky that at a project level, the leadership team was very supportive. We were working on a new proposition targeting a new market so from the get-go the project ethos was to be different and try new things. There was some resistance within the senior leadership due to the new ways of working suggested so we had to build the business case and confidence for this. Demonstrating why being agile and adaptable would help us get better results and help the in-house team get experience. 

BMA had a multi-pronged stakeholder management approach – engaging with the members, steering committee and senior management at a formal level and at a 1:1 level with key people. Regular reporting and transparency on project progress was really critical to generating their buy-inAgile focus on data and the ability to provide them with insight at every stage to demonstrate the learnings and value we were generating on a week by week basis was invaluable to getting engagement and buy-in. 

What tools do you manage each sprint?  

Tooling is a question we see a lot, and it was one of the biggest barriers to adopting agile marketing identified in our survey. 

From a project management perspective, there are a number of ways to get started. Trello is a great tool to get started with to build a simple Kanban board that you can use to create your sprint backlog and monitor progress throughout the sprint. 

For a lot of our projects we use Monday.com which offers the same benefits as Trello but is a much more robust project management tool where everyone can easily understand status and prioritiesIt’s also accessible anywhere by the team which has been important as project team hubs are working remotely.  

From a physical perspective at its simplest, creating a workspace in your office where you can create a Kanban board using a white board or post-it notes can be just as effective. In the current climate this isn’t possible, but it can be a great way of bringing the team together in one area to collaborate.  

The key to successful sprint management is to make sure that whatever tool or mechanism you’re using to track sprints is being utilised by the team, so you get the visibility you need to understand progress. 

Collaboration tools are also key for successful agile hub and management whether you’re using Microsoft Teams, Slack, Skype or any other communication tools, creating a virtual area where team members can interact, collaborate and communicate is critical. 

We also use Mural for many virtual creative ideation sessions and to capture retrospectives at the close of each sprint.  

Did your sprint targets vary or were they quite consistent over time? How many targets were identified for each sprint? 

The short answer is yes. It’s important to create an overarching goal or KPIs for the project or campaign as a whole and then break it down into specific goals or KPIs for each sprint that will move you towards achieving the project goal. 

The great thing about agile ways of working is that it’s data-driven, so you can regularly review your metrics and update and change as you progress. It’s about finding what works and optimising to help you achieve your goal(s). 

Culture – I find that is the major challenge, genuinely the hardest piece. Any suggestions? How do you get people to buy into the process? 

At BMA, they had a very traditional ways of working with siloed teams, so breaking down that culture was really difficult. It was the biggest challenge/barrier to success. We had really fixed ways of working. One of the ways that we started to break this down was to bring managers into the agile hub so we could talk about the process and resources required in real terms. What was needed at each stage and who would be responsible for it. And giving managers that clarity on how the different elements worked together really helped to break down these ingrained ways of working.  

Communication is really important and giving members of the team clear roles and autonomy over their tasks is really powerful, empowering the teams to make their own decisions. With any change you’ll find members of the team who are open to it (and can become great ambassadors for these new ways of working) and others who see it as a threat. Communicate the vision, what you’re trying to achieve and what role they can play in delivering that (and provide the training and support needed to help them) is a great way to start bringing them on that journey.  

If you missed our webinar but like the sound of what you’re reading, fear not, as the recording is now available! View the Agile in Action: Adapting to Survive and Thrive webinar today, join our Agile Marketing Club Meet Up group and keep an eye on our social channels for announcements of the next webinar, coming soon to a home-office near you!  

Sian HeaphyAgile Marketing in Action: Adapting to Survive and Thrive
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Unlock agility with LinkedIn

Why you should be on LinkedIn now more than ever

The outbreak of Covid-19 has forced the majority of the world to work from home, children to be kept out of school, and trips outside to only be taken once a day for exercise or when collecting and delivering essentials. This is new for all of us and it has unnerved a lot of people into thinking that their marketing actions need to stop until all this is over.

But now more than ever, marketing is critical. It’s the one survival tool at your disposal capable of seeing your business through to the end of this crisis and ensuring success in the years to come. If you’re looking for a simple, cost-effective way to hone your marketing focus, LinkedIn is the place to be. By increasing visibility across the top networking app for business, you’ll keep customers engaged with your brand, stay in touch with partners and suppliers, and build pipeline through steady lead generation. What’s more, the number of users is increasing, with more professionals than ever jumping on to share news, knowledge and business tips for success in times of market disruption.

So, we know LinkedIn is the place to be right now, but you’ll still need a proper strategy to make the most of all this tool has to offer.  Now certainly isn’t the time to fire off connection requests and LinkedIn ads without a second thought. There’s a lot to take into consideration when formulating your messaging.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Don’t ignore COVID-19

It’s here, it’s affecting everyone, and it will have an impact on business for years to come. It is already changing the way people live, work and interact. Acknowledge that and acknowledge the hardship in your messaging. Don’t act like it’s just business as usual. This crisis should unite us.

2. Outline how you can help right now

Pitching what was useful back in January when we were all devising our 2020 strategies won’t be of any help or interest right now. Make that mistake and you’ll find yourself reposted with #marketingfail. Take some time to creatively rework your proposition as a benefit in the immediate term and clearly explain how your service will help companies get back on their feet.

3. Do your research

If you’re struggling to answer the point above, then you need to go back to the research stage. Don’t stop building pipeline but do reassess your target accounts and verticals quickly.  Take the time to fully understand the impact this global crisis will have on your clients’ target markets, then tailor your messaging and service to ensure you’re offering support they need. Retaining existing clients is key to future revenue, so make sure they feel reassured and well managed.

4. Stay relevant

Give your audience the useful tips and how-to guides they need to easily get started with your service or product. Be there as the helpful thought leader of that space when you respond to connections or jump in forum threads, the one they turn to when they need further guidance or support throughout this crisis. And, now that we’re all at home, turn your content into interactive virtual events to inform, engage and inspire your LinkedIn network.

5. Be personal

This is an opportunity to build relationships and contact prospects you haven’t been able to reach — consider Account Based Marketing (ABM) to help open up dialogue. With everyone working from home and social distancing, people are now more responsive to an invitation to discuss over a virtual cup of tea (or coffee) and intro video calls. Plus, you’ll have plenty of common ground to discuss and knowledge share in how to combat the impact of COVID-19.

From individual professionals to global enterprises, LinkedIn is the number one social media tool for business right now, and your key to surviving this period of massive market disruption. By researching the impact, pivoting your message accordingly and creating engaging content, your LinkedIn marketing will offer a viable opportunity for interacting with your prospects and supporting them through this time.

Adapt your marketing to survive and thrive

At Bright, we’ve been helping our clients quickly pivot their strategies and adapt their messaging on LinkedIn and other social media channels. Watch our immersive webinar as we explore ways to ignite agility, boost leads and perfect communications throughout this challenging time.

Natalie BurrowsUnlock agility with LinkedIn
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Agile in action: Transforming events at pace

How to create virtual experiences that deliver on business goals

During this current Covid-19 crisis, we’re all at home, all facing the same challenge of having to quickly adapt our business practices and processes for remote working, whilst maintaining communication with our teams, suppliers and wider ecosystems. This all calls for increased focus on marketing, a tool that’s now more vital to your long-term business success than before. To safeguard your pipeline and strengthen your brand throughout the outbreak’s disruption, you need to maintain momentum — business as usual is simply not an option.  Our new reality demands more creative ways to engage, share knowledge and build relationships online.

Rethinking the webinar

Virtual experiences and events have come a long way in the last few years and are now a valuable tool for building and maintaining engagement and driving revenue. But marketers need to think differently and creatively about virtual events today. Don’t just try to recreate a physical experience. Carefully and consistently promote your event, and once you have a captive audience, incorporate networking and knowledge sharing throughout the event. The tools and tactics aren’t important — be clear on the value for the customer, what they gain from engaging in your experience or event. Be compelling. Be a must-attend.

And there’s no reason to hesitate. Marketers can get on with promotion and delegate recruitment for an event long before the technicalities or hosting tool have been determined. Tool selection and testing can happen alongside promotion — so why wait?

Keeping content fresh

Mix up formats or scale events up or down. Blend large, livestreamed keynote speeches with canned content, or intimate expert QA and panel discussions with coaching and interactive working sessions. Whether your event is large or small, informal networking coffee breaks or special interest groups are all possible and make for a more compelling experience. And, you can get more bang for your buck if you record and reuse your event’s content for your social media channels and audiences.

Strive to create a fully immersive experience with storytelling. Asking the audience to play a role and actively participate in the event is a great way to land complex messages. Inviting participants to drive and engage with the content their own way in their own time also raises the likelihood of your content being consumed. 80% of content within an interactive experience is digested and gamification makes delivering messages fun and products and solutions competitive. These experiences can be part of the promotion as well as the event itself.

Now, more than ever, we need to be inventive in how we engage our audiences. We’ve been building an immersive experience to connect with our remote audiences that offers a new, exciting way to digest our content — and gives us plenty of data to continually improve our content.

Adel Du Toit, Head of User Experience and Digital Experiences at Boston Consulting Group

Top 10 ways to cut through the noise

Tick off this list to get your event or experience up and running quickly

  1. Value proposition: Create a strong value proposition for your event. Clearly state that your event is virtual and convey that it’s a good use of their time — what edge will it give them?
  2. Be agile: Test, learn and build on your success to engage and build your audience. Try out new tools and tactics or tackle new markets you’ve not considered before. Get started with an agile approach to marketing
  3. Nurture: Don’t forget to keep your delegates warm prior to the event. Tease new speakers, content or networking opportunities to get them energised
  4. Launch a preview: Show them what the experience will be like to encourage engagement before the event
  5. Don’t get stuck on the tools: You can start developing and promoting an event to gauge interest and engagement whilst you decide on whether you can use your existing tools or will need to invest in new tech
  6. Exclusive access: Use restricted or limited offers of access to subject matter experts or thought leaders in the field as a compelling call-to-action. These can be delivered through one-to-one live video chats and are a proven way to get sign-ups
  7. Book a meeting: If now isn’t a good time to talk, offer a call-back slot with a member of your sales team
  8. Be prepared: Make sure you rehearse. Everyone needs to be comfortable with using the event software and available features. Upskill your team, show you’re available and make sure your event is fully staffed — don’t leave people waiting for an answer in an online chat
  9. Be interactive: Poll your delegates and invite attendees to send questions pre-event to keep things really relevant and topical and avoid the dreaded question-answer lag during a keynote. Blend immersive and video content to maintain pace and excitement
  10. Be data driven: A virtual event or experience opens up data and insight across the buyer journey. Make sure your team knows how to analyse and use data to make informed changes to the promotion, or during the live event, to maximise engagement and conversion.

Consider your audience

Make sure you don’t move your physical event online without taking time to pinpoint your audience’s needs. Be sure to localise your content for your target audience, taking into account language and cultural differences, such as UK vs US English.

Be aware that their attention spans will inevitably decrease once online, but there’s a vast range of interactive tools available for keeping them interested. You can even use real-time data to better understand your engagement rate. During the event, tell your speakers to speed up or change tactics to minimise the risk of audience drop-off.

Making the most of your virtual experience

Now that everyone is at home, there are many benefits to well thought-out virtual events and experiences:

  • Global reach: Your virtual event will instantly become a global event. Plan for that, taking into consideration all audiences that may be compelled to join
  • Intent data: Build profiles based on content users who have engaged with your event to accurately track and predict their buying signals in the future
  • Behavioural tracking: Create more informed sales conversations using your built profiles
  • Lasting content: Host the event for a day, then allow users to access the content for weeks after, all whilst you build your pipeline
  • Warm pipeline: This all adds up to an engaged database of target contacts — just what your business needs to reach your long-term goals

Standing out from the crowd

There’s no doubt that this crisis will have a long-lasting impact on marketing and business in general. In these times of market uncertainty, the ability to adapt and create virtual experiences that are multifaceted and dynamic — not just broadcasted events — will be essential today and tomorrow for ensuring a more sustainable future for your marketing. Many of your peers are already out there pushing traditional webinars, so you’ll have to get creative to stand out and make some noise. In reality, you can’t completely replicate the in-person networking experience, but you can come close by building a global community in your virtual event. Through immersive storytelling, interactive QAs, and fresh content, you’ll unlock engagement and drive business opportunities for a brighter future.

Need some inspiration? Sign up for our Agile Marketing Club to see what an immersive virtual event looks like.

Credit to the fantastic team at TECHNIA for the image from their PLM Innovation Forum virtual event (launching on the 28th April), who had the vision for a sustainable event before Covid-19 forced the events world to pivot.

Outlast this outbreak with more Bright tips. See our guides to Working from Home and Supporting your Immune System.

Lydia KirbyAgile in action: Transforming events at pace
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Getting started with agile marketing

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.

Sian HeaphyGetting started with agile marketing
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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!

 

 

Charlotte FellowsWhat is Agile Marketing?
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2020 B2B marketing: 5 trends to watch

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.

Why it will matter in 2020

Forrester says that 89% of marketers will use more predictive analytics in 2020. To keep up with the competition, the best thing you can do this year is to make your marketing more data driven.

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.

In summary

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.

Want to understand how to get started with agile marketing and transformation? Get in touch with our marketing experts.

 

Zoe Merchant2020 B2B marketing: 5 trends to watch
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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.

Nick JohnsonMaking the most of your martech stack
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Leading or lagging: Is your marketing fit for purpose?

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When marketing in a dynamic space, such as tech products, subscription, or consulting services, you have to find ways to stand out and differentiate in order to engage your target audiences. Common sense indeed, but often hard to achieve when markets move at pace. In such dynamic environments, business leadership need to understand how marketing is; and can contribute to achieving business goals. What questions need to be asked to explore the real value of your marketing investment in order to determine if your marketing is fit for purpose? Is your marketing nimble enough to take advantage of ever-shifting markets and different audience needs? Can traditional techniques help you rapidly exploit new opportunities before your competition does? Does your marketing team measure, learn and improve in everything it does?  And can your operating methods balance these competing demands at scale?

B2B marketing now hinges on your ability to execute with agility and pace. This means you need to deep dive into the data to understand performance across a number of dimensions. What’s more, you have to be strategic enough to use that knowledge for driving improvements.

Transform marketing and drive business goals

Forward thinking organisations are looking at how they work more effectively as well as the outcomes they deliver. Agile marketing is a whole new way of working. Well-deployed agile marketing is a thing of beauty; with continually improving harmonious messaging and outreach integrated via the right tools and channels to engage your audience. It’s measurable and results focused to align and contribute to business outcomes, build pipeline and sales. It also builds reputation and strong brands that attract the right talent to your team and creates really compelling (not yawn-worthy) propositions that engage your key audiences.

The best part – it’s data-driven, not fluffy, not led by gut instinct, and not ambiguous. Agile marketing allows you to test hypothesis and is based on measurement and KPIs that inform every action taken.

Mobilising agile marketing

Let’s examine what it takes to move your marketing towards a more agile model, how to avoid some common mistakes and what it means in reality:

Measure and be smart

B2B marketing needs to be personal and relevant. It also needs to be measurable there is no room for fluffy ill-defined marketing tactics that don’t show a business outcome. Your starting point is to focus on persona development and user stories for your target audience. Combined with clearly defined and understood sales stages and understanding what a buyer needs from your organisation at each stage. You also need a good understanding of what’s trending in your markets, what’s important to your decision makers and this has to be continually updated. Bring all this together (prospect, market and sales stage data) to inform and iterate your messaging, tactics and content generation to engage your audience at pace.

You need to map your product or service lifecycle, set benchmark KPIs and establish triggers so you can quickly take actions to either replace underperforming products or services, or repurpose and reposition to maintain growth. Understanding your client satisfaction and behaviours will help you to pivot successfully and tap into new seams of opportunity. You can do this via data analysis, or qualitative research. I cannot stress enough the importance of building strong relationships with your clients; a closed feedback loop will provide you with the insight you need to flex your position, quickly (and help with retention).

Harmonious business development

To drive marketing at pace, you need a strong and symbiotic relationship between marketing and sales. You need to know what good looks like for your organisation and set targets that align sales and marketing to support the business goals. To do this you need to have a good handle on your pipeline and sales funnel. Having a clear end-to-end lead management process, with defined stages to track conversion and KPIs as prospects engage with marketing campaigns and journey through the sales funnel allows you to quickly address areas of underperformance and take action. Your team need to be agile in the way you operate and deliver marketing campaigns to focus marketing efforts where they will make most impact.

Sales and marketing need to be unified and collaborative to continually improve conversion and maximise the contribution of marketing investment. Common mistakes include not involving sales stakeholders in marketing campaign inception, lack of internal communication regarding marketing activities and poor collaboration to understand impact and steer optimisation to improve results.

Sales and customer facing feedback is a key competent when understanding how marketing messaging, tactics and outreach can be sharpened. The result – greater client and prospect engagement, to improve retention and ultimately sell more stuff.

Establishing agile marketing in your organisation

Pace comes through optimising your working practice, and agile ways of working have provided a strong catalyst for growth in the tech industry with continual deployment now the norm.

Marketing can adopt agile ways of working by redefining its marketing operating model in order to execute at pace whilst maintaining control and mitigating risk to deliver results that will drive business growth. Agile marketing gives organisations a significant edge over competitors giving you the ability to go to market quickly without the cumbersome and expensive trappings of a more traditional approach. You start with an idea, test, learn and build on success. Working iteratively and driving execution via sprints scaling as you increase momentum and build on success.

A critical success factor is being data-driven, so it’s evidentiary, which means you aren’t working on ‘gut feel’ alone, you use data at each stage test your hypothesis and prove your instincts are correct. Instead you’re putting effort into iterating and improving to increase performance whilst ensuring you align to your business goals. It’s a model that can rapidly transform your marketing performance in many areas. For example, the ability to rapidly develop and test propositions, deliver always-on agile campaigns that evolve to maintain engagement whilst building pipeline; craft content strategies that are mapped and validated against your buyer journey, and reverse-engineered to ensure the sales interface is supported at every stage to maximise conversion.

Getting started can be hard, start small test, learn and expand. Ideally work with a partner that knows what it is doing to get you up and running effectively.

Marketing as a business driver and competitive advantage

Marketing practice needs to evolve to take the best of agile forward to continually adapt and drive results at pace whist demonstrating marketing contribution through measurable KPI.

Only by working in this way will organisations be able to demonstrate the agility and pace needed to remain competitive in uncertain times. Critically everything is measured and aligned to your business goals which ensures businesses remain relevant to target audiences while maintaining growth.

Zoe MerchantLeading or lagging: Is your marketing fit for purpose?
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The Power of Storytelling

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Storytelling. It’s an art and a powerful business tactic.

According to Robert McKee – author, lecturer and story consultant, 

“Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world” 

And he’s right. Stories, when told well, are capable of influencing your audience’s motivations, emotions and psychology. More so than brand linkage and logical persuasion techniques. They are more powerful than statistics, more compelling than business-case arguments and more memorable than facts. 

And whilst the B2B world has been met with resistance when it comes to adopting a more emotionally-driven form of marketing, evidence suggests that B2B businesses have much to gain from taking on a more humanised approach. 

Much of this resistance is based upon an assumption that the decision-making process of potential B2B clients and customers is analytical, slow and rational. B2C on the other hand are afforded the more emotionally evocative content – a style that suits the intuitive, involuntary and perceptual decision-making of your average consumer. But studies are beginning to show a different story… 

Whilst the buying cycle remains distinct for B2C vs B2B, the people you’re talking to are not so different. Put simply, business people are still people. They just happen to be at work. 

And just because they work doesn’t mean they suddenly enjoy being bombarded with emails after direct mail after LinkedIn InMail, littered with business lexicons, unnecessarily complex terminology and unexciting propositions.

People generally like to feel important, don’t like their time being wasted and love being entertained – regardless of being at work or chilling at home. But being entertained in the B2C world – Shetland pony moonwalking to Fleetwood Mac – and entertaining in the B2B arena are different kettles of fish entirely.

B2B storytelling in practice: 

Storytelling in B2B is about evoking the right emotion within a business remit. Rather than focusing on humour, nostalgia and sadness, conjure feelings of trust, reliability, credibility and a sense of partnership. Storytelling is particularly well placed when your offering or service is complex and hard to rationalise in a handful of words.

Hewitt Packard (HP) 2017 advert – featuring the rather sinister Christin Slater – is a fine example of the data / technology industry using storytelling to remove themselves from the overly techie language and imagery that often plague B2B campaigns. It’s bold, engaging, cinematic, it has B2C written all over it – but it works. 

It works because it has taken a run-of-the-mill subject matter and completely flipped it on its head. Rather than taking a predictable route, this 6-minute advert is fronted by a recognisable personality who leads you through a dark and witty narrative. It credits its audience with intelligence and lets them draw their own conclusion – making the content far more engaging and leaving the viewer feeling positive about their interaction. Brilliant. 

Making the individual feel positive about their engagement with your brand is paramount to making B2B storytelling work. Research from CEB’s Marketing Leadership Council and Google found that when B2B purchasers saw personal value or opportunity, they are almost 50% more likely to buy a product or service. They also conclusively showed that emotionally-led marketing is more effective at driving decision-making in B2B – more so than in B2C marketing. 

How do you start telling your story? 

Bright is the consultancy inspiring businesses to tell their story and communicate the right message at the right time to the right people. We specialise in bringing together strategy, content, communications and delivery to create tailored marketing programmes that drive sustained growth and support business leaders in delivering on their objectives.

We do this by completing an initial diagnostic of your business to measure your current marketing effectiveness. Depending on your business objectives and marketing maturity, we would recommend a messaging workshop to better understand who your target audience is, what their pain points are and what style of content will best resonate with them. We also explore your industry’s challenges, looking at how your product or service can help solve these challenges and building a story around these components to better engage with your audience.

Your story will drive growth and demand.

Your audience just haven’t heard it yet.

Get in touch to book a meeting and start telling your story today. 

Alexandra JefferiesThe Power of Storytelling
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