Business Agility for Marketers

Blog post
By Pam Ashby | 15 August 2018

Technology and the continuing expansion of our digital world have changed marketing for ever. Information about products and services used to be in the control of specialists, marketing and PR communicators who chose what detail would be publicised. Knowledge is now much more democratic – freely available and freely shared – leaving marketers to differentiate and raise the profiles of their organisations through other means. Just showing your products and services is no longer enough, we have to encourage belief in their value. 

Modern marketing is not so much about choosing what you communicate but how you communicate. It’s about organisations sharing what they believe, and connecting with others that share their values to encourage trust.

In a recent blog, marketing guru Seth Godin summed this up as: 

‘Make useful promises. Keep them.’ 

Held within these five words are the values behind business agility as applied to marketing. 

Adapt quickly to market changes

As in all other areas of business, it’s no longer possible to rely on repeating projects and campaigns that ‘worked last time’. Things are changing so fast that the context and audience for every campaign and initiative will be different. 

It pays to build on firm foundations, using continuous test and feedback loops. For digital marketing, analytics offer insights to the effectiveness of web-based communication and campaigns. We no longer need to rely on opinion-based marketing – we can test and learn from real-time results.

Respond rapidly and flexibly to customer demands

The customer sits at the heart of good marketing. Seth Godin talks about ‘useful promises’, highlighting the need to understand as much as possible about the customer to build a picture of what is useful to them. By responding rapidly and flexibly to customer demands, and by following that with feedback loops that listen and interpret what is said, we can align customer demands to customer needs, and identify those things that are most useful.

Much time is spent in marketing departments using instinct and past experience to guess the best approach to attract and engage customers and stakeholders. There’s a place for this, but only when balanced and checked by a productive Agile approach of communicating and collaborating with customers (and those closest to the customers) to find the answers. Put simply, if you want to find out what the customer wants – involve them, and ask the right questions. 

Adapt and lead change in a productive and cost-effective way without compromising quality

Marketing has long been regarded as an overhead, a cost of sale rather than a driver of revenue. An Agile mindset explores and experiments to identify where early value lies and how to provide what the business needs in the most cost effective way. Traditionally, producing the most comprehensive work possible won accolades. Complexity and sophistication is not a measure of quality. Often it’s better to start small with a minimal marketable product, check the results it delivers, and iterate to improve. Improvement is not always about doing more, but about doing less and better.

Continuously be at a competitive advantage

How do you capture competitive advantage in a disruptive world? Most models for competitive analysis now fall short, as traditional sector boundaries are breaking down. Supermarkets now offer banking products and the world’s largest taxi company owns no vehicles. Competitive advantage is just as much about how you deliver, as what you deliver. 

To continuously be at a competitive advantage, organisations need a constant flow of innovation and ideas that are based on a thorough and continuing understanding of the customer. Communication should be continuous, with a focus on building relationships for a deeper understanding. 

Increasingly customers choose to buy from organisations they can relate to. Those that share their values, and where their principles are authentically aligned with their actions. Marketers need to share the values and purpose on which the business is based, to gain trust from the marketplace.

Agile Marketing is sensible, pragmatic and evidence-driven. With an unwavering focus on the customer, Agile marketers can deliver high quality campaigns and materials that build the brand, connect with customers, and deliver results.


Pam Ashby is Communications Consultant at the Consortium and was talking to Jenny Bailey in the webinar 'Exploring Agile Marketing' on 22 November at 11am GMT. You can listen to the webinar here


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