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