Stay Nimble

The pandemic forced us all to become more nimble and responsive. What can marketing leaders do to prevent a drift back into old habits and ensure the lessons we’ve learned stay with us? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • It’s natural to seek a return to normal after a prolonged period of upheaval. Even if what used to be normal is less than ideal.
  • But the COVID upheaval—as hard as it was—created some positive change in our industry. We accelerated our digital capabilities dramatically.
  • And we learned something important—we’re much more agile than we previously thought.
  • That’s agile with a small “a”, we should note. As in—nimble, responsive, flexible.
  • So what now? As Scott Galloway puts it: “The biggest question facing the world as the pandemic recedes will be: will these accelerations stick?”
  • It’s pretty clear that customers want them to. Their expectations have been re-shaped over the last year and half.
  • So what can you do to avoid disappointing your customers—and prevent inertia from taking hold in your department?
  • First, consider adopting an investor mindset. Treat marketing expenditures like “a portfolio of strategic investments” and manage them accordingly—monitoring risks and returns and balancing the near-term with the longer horizon.
  • Second, prioritize the development of two capabilities that make adaptability possible—forecasting and flexible planning.
  • Important note #1: flexible planning does NOT mean adopting a vague collection of agile methods and hoping for the best.
  • Important note #2: Flexible planning also does NOT mean abandoning long-term strategy: “In order to have the ability to flex, brands must start with a watertight marketing strategy.”
  • Finally, always remember that the point of staying nimble is to keep up with customers, not marketing technology.
  • Think of your customers as the taillights of the car ahead of you on the dark and windy road. Follow them and you won’t go too wrong.
Issue #120
Jun 13, 2021

Further Reading