Go Agile, Say Successful Companies

Go Agile, Say Successful Companies

People are communicating via faster and faster channels. Companies better keep up with them for their marketing messaging. With the many bureaucratic layers of larger companies, speed has been difficult. A new strategy has come to the rescue—agile marketing.


A set of methodologies based on agile software development, agile marketing accomplishes goals more quickly and efficiently. Teams across business departments work together to solve a common problem. They focus using collaboration, testing, iteration and data insights. These cross-functional teams work autonomously, eliminating the time-consuming process of approvals from layers of corporate heads.


An article on CMO.com discusses three large companies which have put agile marketing in force with significant results. 3M began using the strategy 18 months ago, says CMO Paul Acito. Teams of 12 to 15 gather in a “bay,” a room with a long table, comfortable chairs, big screens, laptops and lots of snacks. Representatives from sales, communications, tech services and legal work with those from marketing, digital and creative departments. A facilitator called a “scrum master” oversees the collaboration, which usually lasts for two-week periods. After establishing a “very clear goal,” Acito says, “things will get done.” The cross-functional learning that takes place has long-term benefits, as well as accomplishing the immediate goal.


Insurance giant Aetna also uses agile marketing to its advantage. For the past two years, it has marketed Medicare to individuals during its annual 4th-quarter enrollment period. Setting up a “war room,” the company collocates employees from marketing, creative, analytics, technology, legal and distribution. They sent out tests once a week and determined which marketing tactics worked and which didn’t. “It led to a doubling of marketing’s impact on the growth of the business,” CMO David Edelman states. “And the following year, it led to a doubling of the marketing budget. And we then had war room 2.0 the following year.” Edelman adds that, for agile marketing to work, leaders need to accept the risk of moving faster and delegating more decisions to their teams.


In another case, used-car retailer CarMax relies on “dual-track” agile, focusing on delivery and discovery in tandem. The company, like 3M and Aetna, co-locates teams to develop solutions quickly. In two-week sprints, project results are communicated across departments and metrics are continuously monitored. CMO Jim Lyski emphasized the importance of including external agency partners in the sprints so that “everyone has a line of sight to the goal and … can contribute [new ideas] in real time.” He agrees that the success of agile marketing depends on the leadership within an organization. Leaders must allow a spirit of entrepreneurship to flourish so that teams are able to test and learn to uncover best solutions.


“Agile marketing is the prioritization of creating value for the customer above all else,” says Russ Lange, partner at consultancy CMG Partners. “Methodologies like Kanban or Scrum provide focused, efficient and visible paths to get work done. Together, agile mindset and methodology reduce the work and heroics required of teams, while increasing the value created for our customers and companies.”


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ProRelevant’s experts act as key members of marketing teams to guide them in the process of agile marketing. For founder/president Guy R. Powell’s new book, Marketing Machine, click this link to sign up in advance of its publication this summer:  https://prorelevant.com/marketing-machine-market-present-future/