Agile B2B marketing

Is Your B2B Marketing Agile or ADD?

There’s no doubt that technology and the explosion of digital channels over the last ten years has had a dramatic impact on marketing. This includes fundamental things like how marketing departments function and their role in B2B companies. From marketing automation systems to new social sites (or new ways to market on existing ones) and new marketing technologies or apps, the increasing pace of change is astounding. Add to this our increasing tendency toward distraction. Now you’ve got what I call an “ADD” marketing department — one where attention deficit disorder is manifesting itself on a daily basis resulting in:

  • Frustration for marketing team members
  • Inability to drive company growth
  • A lack of respect for marketing within the organization

Below I’ll describe in more detail what I mean by ADD marketing. Then I’ll discuss briefly why agile B2B marketing could be just the remedy to make your B2B marketing team proud to be part of a winning and respected marketing department.

What is ADD Marketing?

Attention Deficit Disorder, ADD, is a serious neurological condition for many individuals. It causes them to be inattentive, impulsive, or have great difficulty staying focused. I think this condition describes many B2B marketing departments today. Symptoms of an ADD marketing department include:

  1. Prone to distraction – Whether it’s the latest “shiny new thing” (remember QR codes and doesn’t Pokémon Go fit here?) or reacting to constant requests from internal stakeholders, especially sales. The team is always “busy” and often trying new things. However, the team doesn’t accomplish their bigger goals, say generating qualified leads.
  2. Inattentive and poor listeners working largely in isolation – The marketing team finds it hard to collaborate with other departments, and vice versa. They rarely seek direct insights from prospects and customers. Other departments have “no idea what marketing does”.
  3. Difficulty staying focused long enough to measure the results of all their activity – As soon as one thing is completed, or often only started, it’s on to the next activity. No one takes time to  learn what works or doesn’t work. Many haven’t been able to get marketing automation implemented because of 1 and 2 above. This only compounds the situation and makes measurement of digital marketing at scale nearly impossible.

If you recognize any of the above in your B2B marketing department, read on.

Agile marketing defined

Agile marketing can be the antidote to ADD marketing. It uses a process adapted from agile software development that I’m convinced isn’t a passing fad. Andrea Fryrear defines agile marketing as

“a tactical marketing approach in which teams identify and focus their collective efforts on high value projects, complete those projects cooperatively, measure their impact, and then continuously and incrementally improve the results over time”.

She suggests you need an overall marketing strategy, but advocates using agile techniques to implement tactics more successfully, efficiently and with less stress.

Agile uses a process called Scrum and techniques such as Sprints, Burn Down Charts, and Epics to help teams focus on what’s important, get higher productivity from limited resources, and iterate quickly using measurable results.

According to Jim Ewel (check out his excellent blog), agile marketing places value on:

  • Responding to change over following a plan
  • Rapid iterations over Big-Bang campaigns
  • Testing and data over opinions and conventions
  • Numerous small experiments over a few large bets
  • Individuals and interactions over target markets
  • Collaboration over silos and hierarchy

Agile B2B marketing is a process, but it’s really about getting people communicating

At the end of the day agile B2B marketing provides structure to:

  • ensure marketing is flexible
  • responsive to change, customer focused
  • delivering growth to the organization

Marketing teams can use agile methods for campaigns, content development, social media, and more. Maybe you’re starting to see that agile marketing is as Jim states, “as much or more about culture and values than process”. My guess is that many organizations struggle with the culture and values part because agile requires transparency, collaboration, trust, and respect among and across departments. However, this doesn’t exist in many B2B organizations especially as it relates to the marketing department (brings to mind a Dilbert cartoon). Cross functional teams must become comfortable with failing fast which is hard for most.

Agile marketing works

A 2014 survey by CMG Partners found that 63% of marketing leaders place a high priority on agility, but only 40% rate themselves as agile. Barre Hardy, senior director of CMG Partners commented in Forbes, “With Agile, CMOs gain the flexibility and productivity they need to increase speed-to-market and ultimately create more relevant end-products.”

This survey also found that marketing departments who consider themselves agile are three times more likely to significantly grow market share. (see the Forbes article Applying Agile Methodology To Marketing Can Pay Dividends: Survey here).

Measurement, transparency, results equals respect for marketing

Perhaps the biggest benefit of agile B2B marketing is increasing respect for the marketing team across the organization. As teams measure and iterate to learn what does and doesn’t work, everyone gains visibility to marketing’s value for business growth. And with respect comes the budget required to drive growth along with more satisfied marketing employees who get to learn and try new things.

That sounds like a lot less stress and way more fun doesn’t it?

Resources to Learn More about Agile B2B Marketing

Agile Marketing – Save Your Sanity, SlideShare from Mathew Sweezy, Salesforce Pardot

Agile Marketing: Managing Marketing in a World of Constant Change, SlideShare from Scott Brinker, ion interactive

Agile Marketing: Managing Marketing in High Gear, SlideShare from Scott Brinker, ion interactive

Charlotte AMA: Market 2016 Technology & Agile Marketing, SlideShare from Russ Lange, CMG Partners and Roland Smart, Oracle

Jim Ewel and John Cass’s Agile Marketing Resources List

How to Stop Working So Hard: Agile Marketers Work Smarter, by Andrea Fryrear June 16, 2016, Content Marketing Institute

Amazon – just search “agile marketing” to see numerous books on the topic. One of the most recently published is The Agile Marketer: Turning Customer Experience Into Your Competitive Advantage, by Roland Smart

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