Is Your Company’s Marketing Agile? 3 Ways to Get Started!

February 10, 2021 by Sylvio Leal Barbosa is Marketing Leader at Stefanini Brasil

An agile marketing team can respond to market signals faster than competitors. Learn the value of applying an agile mindset to the world of marketing!

Incorporating agile principles into your marketing team's activities is a good strategy, but can other departments keep up? How long does a decision to reallocate resources take? Is IT able to engage tomorrow in a new project defined in a Growth meeting held today?

Perhaps the right question is: is your company prepared to leverage agile marketing?

Having the Ability (Agility) to Respond to Market Stimuli

Having an agile marketing team means building one that is able to respond to market signals quickly, or at least, faster than your competitors. Market research and third-party knowledge is obviously valuable for decision-making; however, nothing replaces direct contact with the customer.

Does your organization's front line (that is, people who have direct and frequent contact with the customer) effectively play the role of capturing and passing on customer information to others within the organization? What is the role delegated to this front line? Just deliver, or be an agent capable of capturing feedback that can improve the organization's understanding of that customer and market?

Effective agile marketing also needs leadership to have an agile mindset, be ready to make resources available, and rearrange quickly, without bureaucracy. The leadership must be willing to challenge the traditional form of management, prefer the simple to the complex, and give more value to data and less to opinions. It needs to cede and decentralize power.

Sylvio Leal Barbosa

Marketing Leader at Stefanini Brasil

Delivery of a project, product, or customer service needs to go beyond a good NPS score at the end. It is much easier to implement a new methodology to measure customer satisfaction than to change people's behavior. The danger is to take the easy route. Here, the much-talked-about agile mindset transformation encounters one of its main challenges: everyone in the organization needs to see the customer as the main source of feedback for decision-making. Often, this attitude is found more in discourse than in practice.

Ability (Agility) to Experiment

The next challenge is to perform selective listening. Listening to the client does not necessarily mean to remedy all of their pain, fulfill their wishes, or comply with their recommendations. It means translating your insights and expectations into experiments; testing new combinations of products and services; improve existing products and services; incorporating new products or services into the organization's portfolio; and testing new business models, pricing, and delivery, among others. Selective listening implies overcoming the challenge by developing the ability to capture signals and creating strategic alternatives based on market knowledge arising from direct contact with the customer while also staying true to the organization's value proposition.

If the ability to respond to stimuli is related to a change of mindset and the commitment assumed by the organization's leadership, the development of experiments has a more tactical character and necessarily involves the incorporation of new management tools.

Incorporating Growth Hacking principles and practices can be a way forward. In a growing team, you need to have everyone at the table: marketing, IT, product leaders, UX, data scientist, purchasing, etc. Growth practices must be incorporated into the team’s routine: free ideation to capture possible experiments; process of validation and prioritization of experiments; and executing experiments at a frequency that ensures rapid speed. The frequency of experimentation, ultimately, is the instrument that effectively brings the organization closer to its market and helps to break the paradigm of the customer's view as an external element to the organization, making it possible to put the so-called moment of practice into the teams' routine.

Your agency also needs to enter the same flow. Agencies that have already incorporated the agile mindset into their modus operandi will not only be able to keep up with your pace, but will also help you reconfigure your processes with the experience gained from other clients.

Your organization may have several growth teams working in parallel, but try to pilot this new way of working and learn what works best for your reality. Then climb and take the next step. This transformation is less about changing what marketing does and more about changing how the job is done.

Creative Management and Engaged Leadership the Agile Way

Effective agile marketing also needs leadership to have an agile mindset, be ready to make resources available, and rearrange quickly, without bureaucracy. The leadership must be willing to challenge the traditional form of management, prefer the simple to the complex, and give more value to data and less to opinions. It needs to cede and decentralize power. Visibility and open communication are key elements in this change. The leadership of already-consolidated organizations should leverage the valuable assets they have, such as customers, their brand, financial resources, and historical data.

This new view of leadership also allows the organization to prepare itself to fit into other organizational arrangements that are designed to deal with companies that share these principles. Open innovation ecosystems, for example, that aim to solve challenges faster with less effort and capital are actually effective when the company is prepared to interact in these environments.

If your organization is willing to transform, you also need to take a close look at social technologies (organizational governance system), and how they can help your organization become more adaptive and self-organized. It is not possible to know which organizational structure will ideally work in this new scenario, but it is essential to have a structure that is adaptable and capable of self-organizing as challenges arise. If you still have no idea what social technologies are or want to get deeper, www.holacracy.org is a good start. This need not be your choice, but certainly will introduce you to some concepts that will inspire you to change.

The Bottom (Agile) Line

Agile marketing has enormous potential. It is an outside-in approach: the client, partners and other actors act as the organization’s listening instrument. It is marketing based on discovery, learning and co-creation. Value must ultimately be defined and validated by the market.

(*) Sylvio Leal Barbosa is Marketing Leader at Stefanini Brasil

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