From Brexit to the novel coronavirus, there’s no end to the chaos that continually throws economies for a loop. It’s worth wondering what’s actually within business leaders’ power to help their organizations stay the course. While politics and pandemics highlight a lot of what’s not in our control, they also present opportunities for transformation and resilience. In other words, they can force us to ask ourselves how agile our businesses are.
As part of an industry that by definition depends on the thriving of other industries, marketers are uniquely positioned to take up the business agility helm and serve as an example for the rest of the business world – most of which depends on marketers in turn.
Below are three pages marketers can take from the business agile playbook.
Leverage data analytics
One of the core tenets of business agility is a commitment to efficiency. For marketers, that means using the latest technology to make data-driven decisions.
No one knows the importance of data analytics better than digital marketers. Both digital advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) rely on real-time data about consumers’ online behavior. As such, digital marketers are at the forefront of being able to target particular audiences and use insights about their pain points to iterate both better marketing materials and better products and services.
But traditional marketers can and should follow this lead. Whether you’re running an email marketing campaign, launching a new social media channel, or creating a traditional TV ad, agile marketing means basing deliverables on data about what your audience wants, where they can be reached, and how they interact with your brand.
Most marketers use a suite of different analytics tools to accomplish this. But be careful to avoid tool overload. A McKinsey report notes that many marketers are actually using (or paying for) more analytics tools than they need. Business agility can also mean keeping a light load, so invest the time it takes to experiment with and honestly evaluate your options.
Free trials make this step easy.
Smash departmental silos
In the world of agile, the term “collaboration” gets thrown around a lot, but it’s important to talk about who is actually collaborating, how, and why. Agile marketing organizations use small, cross-functional teams because smaller numbers and diverse skill sets often foster more trust, speed, and collaborative power.
But let’s zoom in a little closer on the “cross-functional” part. Today’s marketing projects are collaborative by nature, requiring expertise and input from several departments.
Consider an email marketing campaign announcing a new product line. At the very least, you need a product manager to determine and communicate the value propositions to include in the copy, copywriters to actually create the emails, and a technical expert to help mine and compile a mailing list and track conversions. With work siloed into a product department, a content department, and a technical department, you can see how stuffy workflows and approval processes could drag the timeline of this simple project out for several weeks – not to mention dilute the quality as deliverables get passed further and further down the assembly line.
When you put these three players on the same team, on the other hand, you can push deliverables out much more quickly and with much higher quality.
Invest in adaptability
Ironically, this means dispensing with one of the core tenets of Agile fundamentalism: the “war room.” Agile purists insist that teams must be co-located, so they can physically congregate to bounce ideas off one another and experiment with solutions.
Yet increased globalization and the recent coronavirus outbreak have proven this hallmark of agility to be particularly difficult to adapt to the new world of (remote) work.
As employees across the globe are forced to shelter – and work – in place, marketing companies that have invested in virtual collaboration tools (and competency) have shown themselves to be better equipped to shift to the circumstances. This includes both video conferencing equipment as well as work management tools that allow teams to automate marketing processes, create requests and task boards, and communicate with each other about progress in real-time.