Agile Marketing Tips and Trends for Small Businesses

Agility is the ability to be responsive and adaptive. Agile marketing consists of strategic steps that improve the speed, predictability, transparency and adaptability of external and internal changes which affect the marketing function.

The concept is borrowed from the principles of agile software development that values: “individuals and interactions over processes and tools; effective software over comprehensive documentation; customer collaboration over contract negotiations; responding to changes over following plans”. How can small businesses add agility to their marketing and how does that affect their customer interactions and growth?

Drive marketing in a responsive manner

Today’s business environment has unlimited choices and information is available in real-time. Therefore, companies need to respond to various stimuli quickly. That means marketers need to plan their strategies and allow enough room to respond to changing market conditions—including customer moods and the latest trends. Interactions cannot be automated. Rather, they must be personalized to keep buyers happy and to give them a feeling they are central to brands.

For example, during the 34-minute blackout during the last Super Bowl, the team at Oreo managed to tweet, “You can still dunk in the dark,” which was retweeted more than 15,000 times within 14 hours.
Oreo creative

Beyond creative, the company was able to act in a short time with an innovative response to a totally unplanned situation.

Deliver excellent customer experiences

The primary objective of any marketing campaign is to create experiences that are hard to forget. But you can deliver only if you have a pulse on your audience—a keen understanding of what really impacts them and what excites them. These factors are very fluid and change with trends and events. In addition, marketers need to keep their eyes open to all successful marketing tactics adopted by competitors. Many customers, prospects and partners are impressed if companies are sensitive to their expectations and try to meet them during interactions, whether those are online, in person, on the phone, over mobile devices, or directly through products and services. This includes early awareness-building to demand generation to long-term customer service. In an age where all prospects and customers are connected through digital networks, everything is marketing.

Therefore, you need to plan your marketing strategy by focusing on customer touch points for successful brand relationships. This graphic released in a report by Forrester Research, Inc., helps visualize the customer life-cycle, along with some of the communication vehicles that play a role at each touch point.

agile marketing touchpoints

Focus on individuals

Brands that listen to their audiences are the ones that stand out. These audiences include internal team members, external customers and business associates. A brand must ultimately focus on outcomes, not outputs. The criteria, says Umair Haque, are simple: “Did this brand make you fitter, wiser, smarter, closer? Did it improve your personal outcomes? Did it improve your community outcomes? Did it pollute the environment? We’re trying to get beyond ‘did this company make a slightly better product’ to the more resonant, meaningful question: did this brand actually impact your life in a tangible, lasting, and positive way?”
For successful, agile marketing initiatives, organizations need to work on the following three relationship aspects:

1. Internal marketing operations are planned and executed to facilitate better interactions between team members, leaving them free to act and react to changes with greater speed and creativity.

2. Collaboration between different marketing personnel and colleagues such as product management, finance, sales, IT, etc., should be more transparent and fluid. No excuses should be allowed for failing to deliver amazing experiences for internal and external customers.

3. Businesses need platforms that allow them to interact with individual customers. Social media has helped customers to share their opinions in real time. That’s why marketers need to embrace the technology and use it to their advantage to motivate customers to open up and share their thoughts more freely. The value of supporting interactions must be deeply absorbed into the core of modern marketing.

Listen before executing marketing decisions

Along with all the other options for interactions available today, there is nothing better than communicating directly over the phone with your prospects, current customers and other associates to get their points of view.

Discussions with your user base will yield plenty of actionable data. Listen for key pieces of information such as:

  • What do they think their problems are?
  • How did they come to find out about these problems?
  • Was your content helpful to them at the particular stage of research?
  • What could you do better?

User stories are the ideal basis for building marketing campaigns. Once you have thought through the ideas, you need to test them to check which would get the best results.

Emphasize on evaluation to improve focus

Marketing campaign attribution relies on being able to convert people’s buying decisions into simple numbers in order to calculate the weighing each touch point had on those decisions. It is not a simple process with straightforward outcomes, as there are multiple interactions taking place. Some might decide to purchase after the first contacts while others might need multiple levels to make up their minds.

Businesses should evaluate marketing campaign performance at two levels:

  • Overall business performance
  • Marketing channel effectiveness

The real question the evaluation process answers is which steps should be planned for the next campaign rather than stressing how much revenue each marketing channel made in the last campaign. Focus on gathering information that is accurate and provides direction for the future.

What other tactics can make your marketing agile and help you reach out quickly and effectively to prospective and present customers?

About Kriti Adlakha
I have been working in the field of marketing and brand development for more than eight years. My experience ranges from hospitality to media and IT products to outsourced services. During my journey, I have worked with print and new-age media and have enjoyed developing content. I have also learnt and worked on marketing tools like adwords marketing, analytics, CRM and the list is steadily growing. Having acquired post-graduate diploma in business management from IIM, Calcutta, I love new challenges and learn from each experience. In my blog, I share marketing strategies that enable small and medium businesses to market in a small budget. I also discuss how to use different online tools that can help businesses to monitor returns of their marketing investments. Above all, I love to hear back from my readers!

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