De-Mystifying Agile Marketing

Recent research by Kantar found that only 27% of marketers believe they have the right operating model. Many are turning to agile methods in search of an answer.

There are many potential benefits here. But too many marketers are getting tangled up in misconceptions and unclear terminology. So is it possible to untangle the buzzwords, rise above the hype and navigate this landscape with clarity and confidence? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • What’s the appeal of agile methods in a marketing context, anyway? The biggest draw is probably the promise of speed in a discipline that, as Helen Edwards points out, tends to take its time: “Nine months for a new global positioning. Upwards of a year for a new ad campaign. Two years and counting for a launch that everyone thought would take six months. It’s slow, isn’t it?”
  • But Edwards also acknowledges the difficulty of speeding up. “More scale and quality can be achieved with the right resources. But speed is another matter. You can’t buy fast. You have to be it. You have work hard to understand what to strip out.”
  • The bit about stripping things out is critical. Moving quicker requires sharper, narrower focus. It’s the difference between speed and velocity. Speed is about going fast. Velocity is about going fast in the right direction.

  • Put differently, velocity is speed grounded in a clear strategy. As JP Hanson puts it, “The need for speed isn’t a reason to abandon strategy. On the contrary—it is a reason to ensure you have a proper one in place.”
  • Before we get too focused on speed, let’s remember that there’s much more to agile than just going faster. Done right, the potential upsides also include more customer-centricity, less wasted spend, better collaboration and an increased ability to adapt to ongoing change. For a refresher on the full picture, check out the agile marketing manifesto.

  • One of the things we love about the manifesto is the way it avoids many of the buzzwords that can make this stuff confusing. Speaking of which, here’s a handy explanation of two often-conflated terms: agile and scrum.

  • In a similar vein, here’s a concise explanation of user stories—what they are, how they work and why they matter so much in an agile marketing context.
  • For a deeper dive into the nuts and bolts of agile marketing in practice—including a glossary that de-mystifies fun terms like “scrumban”—we like this long read from Andrea Fryrear.
Issue #77
Sep 8, 2019

Further Reading