An Introduction to Agile Marketing for SME Businesses

More so now than ever, businesses need to be flexible. They need to adjust to the ever-changing world, from meeting customer demand to being more cost-efficient in their way of working. You may have heard people mention the need to be agile or agile project management - but what does that mean exactly?

In this article, I will go through how you can use agile principles to suit your business and marketing needs but first lets’ start from the top, where it all began.

What is Agile?

The meaning of agile is the ability to be flexible, to change direction quickly and smoothly. It focuses on helping teams effectively communicate, provide continuous feedback, adapt to change and produce substantial working results. All of this is achieved using a set of values and principles.

Agile marketing picture
Agile in its simplest form is about embracing flexibility and teamwork.

Many people think agile is a method and thus presuming they are using an agile methodology. But this is far from the truth – Agile is anything but a method. An agile method makes the approach less able to adapt, making it the opposite of what agile represents in its entirety. In essence, it’s a philosophy that has been used for years.

Agile: A brief history

During the 90s, software development projects were at their worst in meeting targets and customer demand. It took far too long for development to be completed, meaning the projects had to be cancelled part way through, or when they were completed, they totally missed the mark in what the customer wanted. It resulted in an excessive amount of money, time and effort making businesses obsolete and unable to adapt to upcoming needs (does this sound familiar in the current day?).

Changes Were Needed

Things needed to change in the world of software development, so like-minded software professionals shared their frustrations and development activities. The professionals sought ways to quickly build and develop software that met needs and provided a fast delivery approach. It also enabled users to get swift feedback on the scope and direction. The willingness to change and getting feedback turned out to be the critical components. This is where agile was born! It was only until 2001 where 17 software developers created an Agile Manifesto, consisting of four key values and twelve principles. The manifesto helped software teams adopt the right mindset and produce the best quality software.

Values And Principles From The Agile Manifesto

Agile Values

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Agile Principles

  1. “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.”
  2. “Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.”
  3. “Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.”
  4. “Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.”
  5. “Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.”
  6. “The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”
  7. “Working software is the primary measure of progress.”
  8. “Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.”
  9. “Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.”
  10. “Simplicity — the art of maximising the amount of work not done — is essential.”
  11. “The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organising teams.”
  12. “At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.”

How Can You Use Agile Marketing In Your Business?

Agile is particularly relevant where the expectations are unclear, or how to get to the end deliverable is uncertain. Often, businesses or customers don’t have a clear set of requirements from the offset. Sometimes, they don’t even know exactly what they want – making it incredibly difficult to understand and plan the changes or procedures to implement. Using the Agile values and principles will help immensely in these instances.

Also, adapting the principles to suit marketing can improve the marketing function and increase the its transparency and speed.

Principles Of Agile Marketing

Taking the principles from the Agile manifesto, I would recommend the following for agile marketing:

“Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of marketing that solves problems and creates value.”
“We welcome and plan for change. We believe that our ability to quickly respond to change is a source of competitive advantage.”
“Deliver marketing programs frequently, from every couple of weeks to every two months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.”
“Great marketing requires close alignment with the business, sales and development.”
“Build marketing programs around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.”
“Learning, through the build-measure-learn feedback loop, is the primary measure of progress.”
“Sustainable marketing requires you to keep a constant pace and pipeline.”
“Don’t be afraid to fail; just don’t fail the same way twice.”
“Continuous attention to marketing fundamentals and good design enhances agility.”
“Simplicity is essential.”
“Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of marketing valuable software.”
“At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behaviour accordingly.”

Perception Of Agile

Many people think agile is the opposite of planning because of its name, but that’s far from the truth. You need planning, so be sure to include it in everything and embrace it. Agile marketing requires short, medium and long-term marketing plans. Be acceptable to make adjustments to these plans and strategies as and when needed. For example, if a promotional campaign does not have the outcome you need, change your approach and try something else.

As with many investments, it takes time (months) and willingness to follow through with these values and principles. It won’t happen overnight and you will need to work with your team and broader business tofully embrace this way of thinking.

Methods To Support With Agile

Remember when I said agile is a philosophy and the opposite of a method – Well once you understand the philosophy, you can bring in methods alongside to support you in your journey. There are many methods you can take advantage of, such as Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban. I won’t go into detail with each of these methods, but I would recommend learning them so you can use them to your advantage.

Sprint Planning for Agile Marketing

Sprint PLanning
Sprints are a useful way to manage the length of time on projects

Sprints are a valuable way to manage the length of time on projects. For example, if you have several new product launches coming up or promotional activity from Black Friday to Christmas. Using sprints can make these projects more manageable by planning the amount of work that has to be completed and ready for review. The duration of each sprint can last between 2 – 4 weeks.

The first steps are a planning meeting to understand your projects’ size, agree on priority, sprint goals and more.

Scrum Planning

A good way of collaborative efforts in your team and getting feedback is to set up several brief check-in meetings or huddles during the sprint. These should only last 15 minutes and give each team member a chance to go over their completed tasks and work in progress. It’s also an excellent opportunity to run through any backlogs, issues, risks.

Setup visual aids to track progress (even if it’s just a whiteboard); it doesn’t have to be fancy but needs to be effective. You can even set this up digitally via software like Trello or Monday.com, as long as it’s centralised and everyone has access to wherever they are.

Scrum Meetings Kanban Board
Holding regular Scrum meetings is an effective way of monitoring progress throughout the project

Benefits of Agile Marketing

  • Better equipped to help implement practices 
  • Improve situations using these values and principles
  • Respond quickly to changes as and when they occur
  • Ability to test campaigns and optimise over time
  • Find best practices
  • Enhance teamwork
  • Utilise data and facts to demonstrate success

These are just some of the benefits, but there are countless benefits to your business and team’s success.

Agile Marketing: Recap

Agile is not a method but an approach. It is a mindset to successfully achieve and implement procedures within your business. It’s a philosophy. In most ways, it’s the opposite of everything PRINCE2 represents! There is no structure. It isn’t black and white. It is a way of using different approaches (such as principles and values) to drive successful operations.

Key Takeaway

Remember what you’re there for and what your primary goal is. It can be easy to lose track when you’re in the thick of a project. The principles will help you focus and align to the goal. It encourages you to communicate face to face wherever possible, allowing flexibility in the development process essential in today’s world.

Use methods in conjunction with agile, such as Scrum, so you get the optimum out of the situation. You don’t have to be an expert and you can always take out the bits you don’t need, so it works best for you.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article, I hope you find it insightful. To get updated on future articles then subscribe to our blog.  Join our mailing list and get news straight to your inbox, simply pop your detail in below and we will do the rest. 

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Thanks for taking the time to read this article, I hope you find it insightful. To get updated on future articles then subscribe to our blog. Join our mailing list and get news straight to your inbox, simply pop your details in below and we will do the rest. 

Priya Pandit

Priya Pandit

Priya is a professional project manager, relationship manager, marketing expert and entrepreneur by day. Priya has helped many businesses manage change, improve processes and efficiencies and managed several projects. Ranging from environmentally friendly packaging solutions to system integrations. Priya is also a foodie! She is obsessed with food. She loves to cook and learns about food from all over the world.

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About The Author

Priya Pandit
Priya is a professional project manager, relationship manager, marketing expert and entrepreneur by day. Priya has helped many businesses manage change, improve processes and efficiencies and managed several projects. Ranging from environmentally friendly packaging solutions to system integrations. Priya is also a foodie! She is obsessed with food. She loves to cook and learns about food from all over the world.

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