dog in an agility course
To increase marketing agility, organizations must themselves to become more nimble and responsive. PHOTO: Jerry Kirkhart

Agility. It’s a word in every modern marketer’s vocabulary. But what exactly does marketing agility mean? And is it just a passing trend?

To increase marketing agility, organizations must themselves to become more nimble and responsive.

The first step? Preparing the overall enterprise.

Agility Requires Rethinking Culture, Processes

Becoming an agile organization requires a comprehensive, fundamental shift in how the organization thinks, feels and acts in regard to planning and executing marketing initiatives.

Everyone in the organization — beginning with the executive team — must understand how marketing is going to be measured and proven to key stakeholders.

Objectives should be established up front, and it’s imperative to be patient when a measurement occurs.

The leadership team must align with an agile approach, making sure both in concept and in practice that the organization is ready and willing to set the strategy… but then allow activities and programs to flex and adjust in response to market conditions and results.

5 Agility Challenges (and Solutions)

In a January survey my company conducted in partnership with Forbes, we found marketing leaders are focusing on five challenges. But there are ways to address them.

1. Considering a hybrid approach to planning and budgeting (41 percent)

The agile approach to marketing is about responding to change more than about following a plan. In agile marketing, planning is shortened from months/years to weeks/days, which requires a more iterative and responsive approach.

Marketers should consider a hybrid approach — a combination of traditional and agile marketing — where strategies and KPIs are established up-front, but flexibility is built in so marketing leaders can make adjustments based on real-time results.

2. Building the best team (41 percent)

The best marketing leaders not only determine what resources they need right now, but they also anticipate future needs.

They know what the organization needs so they can get the right job descriptions into the market, but they also give current and future employees the right place to land — complete with the right culture, the right processes, and the right atmosphere.

Employees are enabled to ramp up faster so they can contribute immediately. Having defined processes in a system of record or a knowledge base gives new employees the visibility they need to understand their role and contribute to the outcome.

Employer/employee relationships — now more than ever — must be a win-win. That includes building teams that include remote employees and contractors/agencies, individual flexibility, tight connections, superior collaborations and increased visibility.

3. Increasing marketing productivity (32 percent)

To get the right campaigns into the market at the right time, smart marketers increase agility, velocity and quality of content output.

But establishing a streamlined process in an ever-changing creative environment is easier said than done. Marketers need to ensure project goals are aligned with corporate objectives and that processes are both efficient and transparent.

4. Creating meaningful, personalized and timely content (32 percent)

Today’s marketing content must be hyper-focused on specific customer wants, needs and expectations, and should be delivered at just the right time.

To make that happen, marketers need to know their customers well, be equipped to deliver desired content through any channel and be flexible enough to change marketing content to meet changing customer demands … just-in-time, every time.

5. Ensuring quality and effectiveness (31 percent)

One of many measures of marketing quality is compliance — from adherence to brand guidelines to compliance with regulatory agencies. Marketers who are able to ensure the right approvals and reviews are in place — and can provide a pure auditing history — are the ones who are most confident in their output.

Contrary to popular belief, compliance and agility are not mutually exclusive. By automating and thereby accelerating the review and approval process, organizations are enabled to be compliant while simultaneously keeping projects on track … and ultimately getting the right content to market at the right time.

Agility Basics

Preparing your overall organization to embrace the fundamental change required to become agiler is the first — and arguably, most important — step to increasing and executing marketing agility.

But then, marketing leaders must acquire the resources and technology that enable them to streamline their processes, tighten their planning and spending approach, anticipate staffing needs, increase marketing productivity, create meaningful content and ensure quality and compliance for maximum marketing output.