Will Agile Marketing Go Mainstream?

This is a question that comes up a lot on The Marketing Agility Podcast. Is it worth delving into or is it a distraction?  I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. For those that have already started adopting Agile you know that it revolutionized software development and product management over the last 15 years. You’ve probably also seen the disconnect that formed between product management and marketing. For marketers adoption Agile is a way to get back in sync with these groups but it’s also a recognition that marketers are managing more software than ever before and Agile is the best practice for managing software.

Let’s put the term in perspective with some Google Trends data. As a reminder, Google Trends data reflects how often people search for a term—as such it’s a proxy for awareness:

The Rise of Agile Marketing

When you look at :Agile Marketing” in isolation it’s clear that the term is garnering an increasing amount of traffic. That makes sense because Agile Marketing seems to be buzzing amongst marketing influencers. For example:

That’s just a smattering but it demonstrates that some of the most influential people in the marketing world are thinking about Agile Marketing. Fair disclosure, I’ve had the good timing to write a book about “Marketing Agility” so I’ve got a stake in this fight. And, I should mention my friend Scott Brinker also has a forthcoming book (same publisher: Wiley) entitled Hacking Marketing that shares a lot of it’s DNA with my book (I’ll be on a panel with Scott at his upcoming MarTech Conference). It’s telling that Wiley has invested in two authors who are focused on Agile in the marketing context. 

Agile In Perspective

Is this all competition for my book? Sure. But publishers like Wiley know that few business books drive transformation in isolation. Industry transformation—and modernization—are driven by many books, stakeholders, articles, constituents, and companies. Think, for example, about the rise of inbound marketing and the role that Hubspot, Seth Godin, and KissMetrics played in giving that term currency. They had an almost singular focus on developing equity in those terms—this strategy effectively helped position them as market leaders. With that in mind, I’d argue that the concept of Inbound Marketing is not as transformative as Agile. How does the term Agile Marketing stack up? Let’s check Google Trends against the term “Content Marketing”:

As you can see, it’s dwarfed. The comparison with Inbound Marketing is more pronounced. So what’s going on here? Is Agile Marketing just a passing trend? I’d argue that it’s not. Is it just early days? Possibly. What’s keeping Agile Marketing from going mainstream? One possible barrier is that there are related terms emerging that are competing for attention. For example, the Agile approach is very closely related to the Lean approach (popularized by Eric Reis)—in my book I discuss a convergence that is taking place between Agile and Lean. And then there’s Growth Hacking which arguably is a practice based on Agile/Lean. Further, support for these terms is more distributed (as evidenced by the above list) such that you don’t see a small set of companies developing equity in a single term to establish market leadership.

Related to this, I’m not convinced that marketers care what it’s called so long as it transformed the way we work. In other words, marketers appear to focused on the benefits more than the brand of transformation. That’s increasingly how customers approach brands but it’s a bit ironic considering that marketers are responsible for branding. I factored this into the title that I chose for my book, rather than using the term “Agile Marketing” in the title  I chose “Agile Marketer” because it’s not about an approach as much as it is about the benefit of being agile (little “a”). In fact, part of what I discuss in the book is the fact that Agile is not a holistic approach to marketing. Instead it must be applied alongside—and integrated with—traditional methods.

Agility Is What Matters

Will Agile Marketing go mainstream? I’d argue that the values and principles that underlie Agile—as articulated in The Agile Marketing Manifesto—are well on their way to becoming mainstream whether or not we call it Agile Marketing. Between Agile Marketing, Lean Marketing, Growth Hacking, and Marketing Agility there is a transformation taking place. Marketers are increasingly taking an iterative approach to their work, adopting small cross-functional teams, and they are becoming more validation oriented (e.g. data driven).

I do hope that Agile Marketing continues to gain traction and mindshare in so far as it helps drive the above transformation.

The Agile Marketer is Released!

book1-253x300It’s official, my book The Agile Marketer: Turning Customer Experience Into Your Competitive Advantage has been released! It’s a pretty wonderful feeling to have a copy in hand and I’m excited to share the book with all of you. The goal of this book is to help marketers modernize the way we work.

The central theme of the book is that the Agile development approach—which revolutionized the software development world—has become the primary driver of modernization in the marketer’s’ world. That might seem surprising at first blush, but when you consider the amount of innovation that’s taken place in the marketing technology space in just the last 5 years it begins to make a lot of sense. Just think about the tools we use to get our work done—it’s all software from websites, to analytics, mobile, marketing automation, etc, etc.

Marketers are managing more software than ever before but unlike our counterparts in development—and product management—we have not fundamentally changed our approach. It’s time to take a page from their playbook and apply it to marketing. Here’s why Agile is so important for marketers to understand:

Marketing in the digital era has evolved into a whole new game—and the name of the game is the customer experience.  Marketers today must integrate a complex set of technologies to capture the customers’ digital body language—and thereby deliver the right experiences, at the right times, via the right channels. Beyond that, marketers must align with product developers and product managers to create a more powerful connection with customers.

Agile development involves continuous assessment and iteration at every phase of a project—and throughout the lifecycle of a product. In an era of rapid change and rapid product obsolescence, Agile has an equally important place in marketing. It has the potential to unleash a whole array of new marketing opportunities from growth to “baking” marketing directly into products and services.

What’s in the book?

  • A practical and concise guide to key Agile methodologies, how they apply to marketing, and how to choose which ones might best suit their needs
  • How to respond to naysayers’ concerns (Is Agile scalable? Won’t it be disruptive? How can we plan or budget with it?)
  • How Agile complements established marketing practices such as strategy and market research
  • The ways in which Agile can support marketing’s collabo­ration with the innovation and product management teams
  • Exercises to help their team get Agile-savvy—for design, content creation, and system development

I want to share the book with you: 

So now that the book is released, I’d be thrilled to share the book with you, your teams, and at your events. If that’s of interest, here’s a breakdown of how we can work together:

Order 30 or More Books

I’ll host a 30-minute video conference with you and your team during which we can focus on any topic of your choice related to Agile Marketing in an question and answer format. 

Order 60 or More Books

Same deal only 60 minutes and I’ll also field as many follow up inquiries as you’d like via email.

Order 250 or More Books

I’ll present a 60-minute presentation that will serve as a primer to get your team prepared for an Agile implementation. You can give me themes in advance so that I can tailor the presentation to your team or group. And, you can use the presentation as a marketing tool to reach your customers if you;d like. 

Order 500 or More Books

Same deal as above, only I’ll come to you wherever you are in the U.S. 

For more information contact me about the above at books@rolandsmart.com

Finally, thank you for reading all this and for considering buying the book. If you want to learn even more and hear where people are saying about the book, check out my book page.

 

Join me at MarTech SF for an Agile Panel

For those of you in the Bay Area, I hope you’ll consider joining me at MarTech SF on March 21st-22nd. If you’re not familiar with the conference, it’s the brainchild of Scott Brinker who has been working on the front lines of marketing technology innovation. Besides being known for his MarTech Landscape his forthcoming book called Hacking Marketing is a worthy read. Fair disclosure we share the same publisher (Wiley) and there there’s a lot of shared DNA with The Agile Marketer.

On the fence? Check out our latest Marketing Agility Podcast with Scott:

Ian Bruce of Intralinks Shares Agile Insights

In this episode of the Marketing Agility Podcast Frank Days and I interview Ian Bruce, about his experience with Agile Marketing at Intralinks and previously at Avid Technologies. Ian brings a broad range of experience with Agile to the conversation having worked on a product for highly creative users (Avid) and now for one empowering business users. What connects these companies is their particular focus on facilitating collaboration for end users. Ian shares insights about how helping customers collaborate informed his approach to Agile—as a collaboration framework— within his team.

If you’ve been listening to some of these podcasts and think you could contribute to the dialogue we’d love to hear from you. Please reach out!

Let’s Get Physical With A/B Testing

A/B testing is not a new topic, but this week I heard a great podcast from Planet Money on the topic that speaks to how broadly the practice is being used. In this show they discuss the A/B testing of everything from headlines to audio based podcasts but—more interesting than that— there is an example that speaks to how A/B testing is being implemented in the context of physical retail environments.

The podcast features Laura Shoe of Bucketfeet, who talks about how 6 video cameras in her store capture browsing and behavior. Though the technology being used is not mentioned, it’s probably something like Prism Skylabs. Solutions like this can help retailers test volume of traffic, how long users engage with elements of the store, and what paths they take through a retail environment.

If this is something that you have experience with or that you’ve done we’d be thrilled to have you share your story on the Marketing Agility Podcast! In the meantime, here’s the Planet Money episode:

 

 

Ok, and just cause: