What Is Agile Marketing?

To understand “agile marketing,” you must first understand the whole agile methodology. Introduced first for software development, this method focuses on using new work cadences, sometimes known as “sprints,” to prepare for an unpredictable workflow. The traditional method is known as the “waterfall” method, or put simply, taking on each task as it comes, even if it’s piled on top of something you’re already working on.

Bear in mind: The word “agile” is often used to describe situations where agile marketing isn’t used at all. Because of its popularity as a business buzzword, the term is applied to almost anything.
Don’t assume you’ve adopted the process unless
you completely understand it.

How Does It Work?

The adaptive nature of agile marketing makes it possible for marketers to respond to changes in process and policy at a much faster rate. The new work cadence leads to a more predictable workflow, even as new tasks change the game. Alignment with the goals of the company, communication between marketing and sales, and the speed at which projects can be completed are all products of adopting agile marketing.

The steps are all described as “sprints,” which is fairly self-explanatory, but how do they all work?

      Sprint Planning

  • Tasks are identified and an estimated time for completion is set.

      Sprint and Scrums

  • Tasks are completed within the set time limit.

      Sprint Review

  • Tasks are reviewed for accuracy and relevance.

      Sprint Retrospective

  • Tasks are scrutinized for items that worked and items that need improved.

These sprints can be completed on a time limit of your choosing, though most choose to work with schedules anywhere from one week to one month long. Two weeks is perhaps the most common limit set.

What Happens within Each Step?

If you’re familiar with Scrum, you already recognize the terminology used. You probably already understand how the processes can be applied to marketing for better results. If you’re not familiar, let’s break down each step of the agile marketing process so you can better understand the need for expediency over accuracy.

Sprint Planning

Your work runs in cycles when you choose agile marketing. At the beginning of each cycle, which lasts between 7 and 30 days, you’ll hold your planning meeting. This is when you set the tone for the entire project, so be sure to hold true to your time limits for each section of your sprint planning meeting.

During this meeting, set aside times to plan the work that needs to be over the next marketing cycle. If you’ve recently completed a cycle, you may already have projects chosen from the previous retrospective. These new and reusable tasks are then prioritized and a new plan for your marketing cycle is created.

Sprint and Scrum

This is when all the work takes place. Remember to hold true to your time limits, or you’ll wander off down new paths. It’s okay to make notes of new ideas that arise as you’re working on your current projects. Just don’t allow yourself to be derailed from your current work.

Developing a cohesive work environment is the most important part of this stage. When first beginning agile marketing, team members may infringe upon others or leave tasks undone for fear of stepping on toes. Mistakes will be made, but you can’t stop to determine why during this stage. Simply keep working and striving for the goal, and the team will eventually adapt to the new process.

Sprint Review

The review portion of your sprint is important, because you’re locating all the mistakes and issues from the previous sprint. Remember it’s okay to mess up, as long as you learn from those mistakes and use what you learned in future projects. You’ll also present your work to the rest of the company for feedback.

Sprint Retrospective

This is where those ideas that came to you during your sprint and scrum can be shared. While you’re reviewing the tasks that went well and determining the reasons for mistakes, you’ll need to make notes again to use for your next marketing cycle. Throw those new ideas out there to be applied during the next planning meeting.  This is how your marketing will adapt and grow while still being prepared for whatever comes your way.

What Can Agile Marketing Do?

To use a pretty old metaphor, agile marketing is like a boxer. A trained boxer can dance in circles while also doling out hits that knock the opponent out. As an agile marketer, you’ll be able to do the same. With your new process in place, you’re essentially bobbing and weaving while also rolling with the punches. You’re not afraid to make mistakes—to take that uppercut on the jaw—and just keep moving.

Because you can work under a time limit without fear of mistakes, you’ll be able to publish more marketing content, grab news stories as they happen and apply them to your company, keep up your social media conversations, and still have time to study your metrics. Everything you learn during each cycle can be used to better prepare and perform the next time.

Making the commitment to switch is hard, especially if you’ve got a perfectionist at the helm. What challenges have you faced as an agile marketer? Do you have any tips to help others adopt the process? Let us know in the comments.