I’ve been in marketing long enough to see buzz words come and go and the latest to join the mix is Agile Marketing. Borrowed from the world of IT and software development Agile is a process approach. Designed to facilitate more innovative thinking and creating a more productive environment than a traditional, sequential waterfall approach Agile’s iterative process allows for better team communication, customer-focused collaboration, flexible planning, quicker development and better alignment across all business units.1 In an Agile process each team’s workflows are divided up into sprints. With sprints the focus is on getting tasks completed within particular timeframes, then assessing success and evaluating next steps once the sprint is over.
One of the biggest tenets of Agile is ability to fail fast and course correct. But isn’t that what good marketers do anyway? Twenty years ago that same process approach was called “Do. Learn. Do”. Like Agile, this approach involved accomplishing tasks, coming to a quick realization when something is not working, and then quickly course correcting.
While Agile Marketing is the “newest” approach I wonder if it the best approach for marketing departments or agencies to adopt? Consider this:
- If all departments in a company are not using Agile as an approach it creates a bottle neck. You can do as many sprints as you like but those departments that do not implement Agile won’t care about your sprints and by extension—your deadlines.
- Marketing relies on clear scope requirements, strategy and KPIs to begin and measures success via metrics and data. Take even one of those things out of the equation in Agile Marketing approach and it would be hard to for teams to gauge success.
- Agile is made for teams and relies on teams working together. Marketing on the other hand rewards the individual. Inherently team members may not want to fully embrace an approach that minimizes their specific contributions to the project.
- Most importantly, marketing is about executing brand strategies. Agile focuses on project tasks. An Agile approach by design could blur the focus on the big picture and allow team members to lose sight of the brand strategy.
I don’t think Agile Marketing is necessarily a bad idea for implementing the multitude of tasks that make up a huge marketing initiative. It’s innovative. It’s fast. It allows people to take ownership of tasks and increases productivity. But in order to be truly successful the Agile Marketing approach needs to also deliver on the brand strategy and not lose sight of the brand along the way. No matter how smoothly a project went, how focused and productive the teams were, how on budget it was, or how quickly it was delivered, if it is not on brand it is worthless.
- Katrycheva, Arina. “Why Agile Marketing Isn’t Working For You.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 30 May 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2018/05/30/why-agile-marketing-isnt-working-for-you/#672b73bf5a7f.