If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that life can change in an instant, and we need to be able to adapt (or as the popular adage goes – ‘pivot’ – to be able to grow and succeed in the face of change.
As many marketers know, nothing is certain in the world of brands and businesses, which is why marketers especially need to be able to adapt to change, and quickly.
So when it comes to leaving the year 2020 behind and looking to next year, how can marketers make sure they succeed, particularly in the face of uncertainty?
Enter: agile marketing.
Agile, in the software spectrum, is not new. It’s been in use for years as a name for a methodology focused on being quick and efficient. And, while there is no clear, agreed-on definition of agile marketing, digital growth consultancy Webprofits define it pretty well: “Agile marketing is an approach that enables brands to adapt their marketing to meet the evolving needs of their customers through the use of data and shared goals.”
Agile marketing is the constant optimisation and iteration of marketing tasks you perform to achieve your goals quickly. But agile marketing isn’t only about speed. It’s also about doing the right things, the things that will
make a difference to your business growth – and doing them well.
To understand why agile marketing is the secret sauce for 2021 marketing success, B&T chatted with Webprofits head of growth Tam Al-Saad to get the lowdown.
Why is it important for marketers to be able to adapt to change?
Change affects us all. It affects business, but it also affects your customers, and your customers are going to make decisions based on the changes that are happening to them. If you’re not taking those changes into consideration, then you’re no longer providing something that your customers want and as a result, your customers are going to stop buying from you or stop using your service. Essentially, the businesses that can adapt and understand exactly what it is that their customers want and how that’s evolved will be the ones able to stay relevant. Adapting to change is about relevance and making sure that whatever you’re selling is relevant to the customers that you have, or that you want to have.
Why is agile marketing the secret ingredient for 2021 marketing success?
Agile marketing is a process that gives you clear direction and sets up what you want to achieve. But it also gives you an element of flexibility that allows you to change how you get there. By having your different channels or different departments work together rather than in silos, they’re able to better understand how they impact each other, and that understanding allows you to combine your channels more effectively in order to meet your customers better.
What are the key 2021 marketing trends you foresee?
With the recession, one of the big things particularly with B2B is people and businesses will be looking to save money, rather than to grow. I think we’ll see a lot more products and marketing around saving money and resources. Doing more with less will be a big marketing trend. Businesses will be looking for more cost-effective ways that they can reach their audience and probably focus a lot more on the things that are going to actually make a difference. They’ll be cutting a lot of the “nice to haves”, but also a lot of the things that they realise aren’t actually adding particular value or particular results to their marketing.
What’s your top tip for using agile marketing to stand out in a sea of sameness and attract customers to your brand?
The first part is to really understand what’s going on with your customers, and I think maybe one of the reasons why campaigns all seem the same is people are working off the same information, rather than going out and spending time speaking to them. That’s probably one of the most important things you actually do: speak to your audience and conduct research. Ask them: what are the challenges that you’re facing right now? How does our product/service/your relationship with our business help you with those challenges? How do you see that changing as the year progresses? It’s a very customer-centric approach.
Hyundai is a great example of the benefit of agile marketing. During the GFC, when every car manufacturer in the States thought customers didn’t have any money, Hyundai dug deeper and found out that they did in fact have money, but people were scared of spending money because they were worried about losing their jobs. That insight changed everything that year and going forward for Hyundai. Hyundai launched a program guaranteeing that customers who experienced a layoff after buying a new car from Hyundai could return the car without any negative credit reporting. Not only was Hyundai the first car company to launch such an initiative, they did so just 37 days after it was first discussed in a Superbowl ad. While other car manufacturers were reducing ad spend, Hyundai was offering real value to customers and doing so on one of the most expensive ad platforms available. What does this show? It shows the ones who really understand the needs of their customers best are the ones who can adapt to change.
The other part agile marketing is the use of data, so finding out information about your customers qualitatively through interviews or research methods – whatever it may take to find out what they want. However, that needs to be combined with quantitative data to look at your campaigns on an ongoing basis to see which messages are resonating well, and the channels where people are frequenting. You need to know what people want to hear, what messaging is working well for you as is, and then doubling down on it. There will certainly be some things that are non-negotiable, things you’ll have to do regardless of what the data is showing you. However, for the most part, to succeed, businesses really need to narrow in and say: “This is where we’re doing really well, let’s make sure that we’re succeeding here.”
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