How Agile Communication can improve Marketing
10 January 2020
Posted by: Pam Ashby
Communication is how humans connect, how they collaborate, how they ask for help, and how they can build the relationships on which successful marketing now depends.
Make no mistake, the marketing landscape is changing. The customer has been empowered by the digital world. People no longer wait for product and service information to be released to them by specialist publicists, they go out there and search for what they want. When they’ve found a list of comparable alternatives, they’ll make a choice that’s as much influenced by trust and authenticity as any technical detail. Marketing is now about building rapport and connection, sharing values and generating trust. We need a shift in how we communicate, reflecting a more Agile mindset – focusing on collaboration, purpose, value, experimentation and strategic integration. Marketers need to look at practical ways to improve productivity and results, communicating with clarity and transparency to maximise value for the customer.
Agile working is productive because it places emphasis and energy on the things that immediately matter. It helps to answer the critical question ‘What is the most valuable thing that I can do right now?’. By being in close touch with the customer, encouraging and listening to feedback and dialogue, we can understand our audience better and make marketing decisions based on achieving their goals rather than our own.
Marketing is all about the customer experiencing value, and building their trust by communicating on the things that really matter to them.
Big picture, small details
An Agile Communication approach allows us to look at the strategic big picture, yet only focus on the detail for the short term. ‘Sticking to the plan’ is replaced by ‘responding to customer feedback’ and experimenting with different ways of communicating to find out what works best. Why send out an email without an A/B test? If you do, a valuable chance to learn about your audience has been lost.
The risk is that we move so fast trying to get through our list of things to be done, that we overlook the importance of doing only the ‘right’ things; and doing those ‘right’. We can lose trust and authority quite quickly by a lack of attention to details, such as privacy considerations, even spellings. We need to show we care and that we take care, whilst avoiding the temptation to aim for perfection – that will always get in the way of things getting done.
Agile Communication encourages clarity of purpose for every message a marketer puts out. It allows us to test and learn, to collaborate transparently without fear of others spotting errors, and to keep checking the evidence and signals that come back from customers. What are the signs they trust you? We need to look for these throughout a campaign or a project, not only as a retrospective at the end.
Removing the filters on communication
Transparency with team members, and across an organisation, is key. It takes away any filters on communication. We can’t always double guess what is important to someone else, so why not let them have access to everything and choose where they put their focus? I love simplicity and this keeps things simple. Why risk someone thinking you’ve intentionally withheld some information, damaging relationships and collaboration?
Traditional methods of reporting are in essence ‘command-and-control’. Specific information is identified as being important, often from one person’s perspective, and this is shared with a restricted circulation list. Communicating transparently, for instance using cloud-based collaboration software, replaces the controlling practice of reporting (with one person deciding who knows what) with the empowering practice of shared information. This is time-efficient and means one-to-one communication can be used more effectively, to collaborate around the complex and to clarify the complicated.
There’s a place for reports as foundation documents, but I believe in keeping them as small as possible. It is better to work with living breathing documents that keep people involved and invite collaboration wherever possible. If it’s a document that gets printed off, it feels static, as if there is only one answer. And that’s just not going to be the case.
Sharing – Human to Human
Marketing isn’t B2B or B2C, it’s H2H – human to human. Word of Mouth is important, including online reviews and recommendations & social media. By making full use of video, you can communicate directly in a very personal way. People trust people.
Generously sharing advice and your thinking is a critical step to building a relationship with your customer. It’s evidence of your authority to support them towards their goals, and shows that you care beyond commercial realities. It sets up a transformational relationship rather than a transactional one.
To create a content strategy in an agile way, we have to be prepared to test and to have courage. To let go of the view that we have all the answers and to embrace a growth mindset, looking for feedback and adjusting tactics to apply what we learn.
An Agile approach is important for finding out how to communicate with customers. We need to stand in their shoes and look through their eyes as much as we can to guard against designing communications and products that resonate with our organisation (and our ego) but not the customer. It’s about them not us.
This might mean using blogs and social media to test out ideas you’d like to build into a more formal and comprehensive paper or e-book for example. Think big, but start small to ensure great ideas don’t get relegated to the too difficult pile.
"Make it small, make it high quality and get it out into the world."
About the author
Pam Ashby is a Communications Strategist, Agile Marketer and Certified Coach.
Link to original article by Pam Ashby here.