[This article first appeared on CMO Central on the CTAM website which requires membership. Reposted here for you.]
With technology and consumer behaviors changing at an ever-quickening pace, it’s time to take a new approach to your marketing efforts. The days of annual marketing plans and high-level targeting just won’t cut it competitively in today’s evolving marketplace. The introduction of big data, mobility and always-connected consumers means that marketers have to anticipate, adapt and respond to market opportunities on a continual basis. In other words, you need to use Agile for Marketing (A4M).
The proof is in the numbers—MIT research reports that agile companies grow revenue 37% faster and have 30% higher profits than companies who do not follow an agile model.
In the past year CMG Partners interviewed 40 CMOs and marketing leaders. Over the course of this research, we began to hear many of the same ideas and practices from the most agile of the bunch. Through this analysis, as well as our own coursework and research, we developed The Nine Drivers of The Agile Advantage.
Hear from top marketers in their own words as they describe how they apply the Nine Drivers to be agile and create more growth:
Nine Drivers of The Agile Advantage
To put it bluntly, leadership can make or break The Agile Advantage. Leaders set the tone and create the type of empowered culture that transforms an organization. “It’s all about culture. Your customer and process are important, but if you don’t have a culture where your people feel empowered to be adaptable, to learn and communicate, you won’t be able to serve the rest of the business,” explains Leslie Snavely, VP of marketing and corporate business development at CHG Healthcare Services.
2. Anticipating Change
Anticipating the market is a benefit of being more agile with data and frequent research. By understanding customer patterns, you’re able to foresee behaviors and get ahead othe competition. Elisa Steele, EVP of strategy and CMO at Jive Software puts it this way, “There are many times that no user told you that you needed to do [something], but you deeply know how the product works . . . you can actually do a leapfrog to innovate an idea, a program, an engagement opportunity that hasn’t been done before.”
3. Flexible and Focused
Flexible doesn’t mean loose or sloppy, it means that like an athlete, you keep your eye focused on the ball but you’re always ready to adapt – to sprint or turn on a dime if needed. “When we are focused we’ve been very successful in moving quickly and utilizing the right process to get things done,” describes one lead marketer.
4. Data Driven
New tools for big data and analytics provide more intelligence on consumer behavior than ever before. You have to embrace data analytics in an actionable way, measuring early and often to discover customer patterns and responses. Leslie Snavely of CHG Healthcare describes their approach, “Data shouldn’t just be analyzed; it should be actionable. We use our data to make decisions because it’s in a digestible form.”
5. Iterative and Experimental
A4M means taking risks with new ideas and innovative methods. Support a culture that encourages taking chances, evaluating, iterating, and then re-evaluating. May Petry, VP of digital marketing at HP, says, “Agile enables me to test, learn, iterate and execute much quicker. If we didn’t apply the agile lifestyle, I wouldn’t be able to iterate and respond to change as quickly as I can right now.”
6. Clear and Transparent
Operate with open visibility across teams as well as into goals, planning, performance and results. Get all teams working with clear, common objectives. Allen Olivo of Paypal advises, “If you want to move fast, you have to know where you are going. That’s why our goal is to join people together around a shared purpose. This is the essence of what we want to accomplish.”
A big change for many companies is that agility requires working across departments and roles in a flatter organization. Tom Vogl, CMO at The Clymb explains how they have done away with strict silos and hierarchy, “Being agile means having a strong degree of trust and respect across teams, In our case, people are not concerned about which group is going to get credit, but about what we’re delivering and figuring out how to work together across teams.”
It’s crucial to enable decision-making at all levels while allowing the freedom to fail. Tobias Lee, CMO at Thomson Reuters describes how this works for his team, “People feel empowered to share ideas and are supported to go do these things. And that’s been very different, to feel like you can move fast with ideas you have because you’re not concerned that management may not support you.”
A4M companies put the customer at the center of all decisions, actions, and goals. “Knowing the customer, understanding the customer, talking to the customer, responding to the customer, and using their input to make marketing better. In short, agility is about responding to the market,” shares Ann Lewnes, SVP and CMO at Adobe.
A company that adopts these Nine Drivers does not ‘do marketing’ in the traditional sense. After all, even traditional marketing has almost completely transformed. A4M apply these drivers to a mindset and methodology that empowers their organizations to better anticipate and respond to changes in the market, and in the process, outperform their competitors.
Where Do You Stand?
This article first appeared on CMO Central on the CTAM website here (membership required).