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A few months ago I compiled a list of 26 wonderful agile marketing campaigns, as there are some serious wins to be had for brands that can act fast.
But what does it take to react quickly?
Good timing is everything in comedy, in sport, in fashion, in cooking, and in business. Wait too long and you’ve missed your moment, but there’s a very sweet spot to hit if you get it right. As Anna Wintour says:
It’s always about timing. If it’s too soon, no one understands. If it’s too late, everyone’s forgotten.
Vogue’s editor in chief could have so easily been talking about agile marketing, which requires superlative timing. How are you supposed to win the earned media game if you sit around twiddling thumbs, or don’t have the right set up to make things happen quickly?
With this in mind, I thought I’d outline the key agile marketing success factors, and to try to figure out what kind of team structure and processes need to be put in place.
Responsive marketing is still a relatively nascent area, focusing as it does on social media channels to underpin earned media wins. It requires experimentation, and that opens the door to risk.
You can minimise risk by putting this kind of structure in place, but there also needs to be an open approach to agile marketing, where people are applauded for coming up with new ideas, and nobody fears for their job if things don’t work out. An entrepreneurial ‘let’s try it’ culture needs to exist for these teams to succeed.
Agile isn’t about putting all of your eggs in one basket. Econsultancy CEO Ashley Friedlein wrote about the 70/20/10 rule of agile marketing, where he suggests that:
70% of your marketing is the planned ‘marketing as usual’ activity. 20% of your marketing should be programmatic. 10% of your marketing is purely responsive Oreo-style. For this you typically need people resource available.
Make it so!
To make the most of the real-time marketing opportunity you need a closely-knit, multi-discipline team, primarily comprising of content, design and tech people. These folks will make things happen for you. Give them the right tools and empower them.
Not long-term planning, but rapid response planning. You have to plan for news hooks, and to know what kind of things you should react to. Seasonal or major scheduled events are relatively easy to plan for, but how will you deal with the things that materialise out of the blue?
Radars / triggers
Have you established a listening station? Are you properly tuned in? Do you know what you’re looking for? It is ultra-important to listen, if you want to be able to quickly react.
What’s the process, when you spot some major breaking news that you can sensibly use as a jumping off point, or when one of your competitors baits you via Twitter? Who alerts who? Who does what? How can you get from A to B in the shortest possible time?
Think about the processes involved in an online newsroom, where every second counts.
This is all about topics and tone. Guidelines and rules must be in place. People need to know what they should and shouldn’t say, in order to be able to say the right things quickly. Dumbass moves such as hashtag hijacking do not equate to best practice in the real-time marketing world.
Brainstorming & creativity
Once you have a target, you need to engage the left brains of your most creative people, but in a structured way. For example, you can create your own shortcuts. I’ve done this for our writers by compiling the 34 blog post templates that we regularly use, and which work well for our brand. You could do something similar for agile marketing content formats.
What are they? What does 'good' look like? I think short-term metrics are most important for agile campaigns (and ‘campaign’ might be too strong a word, for an ad hoc tweet), such as retweets, or retweet velocity.
A broader view can be taken after the campaign is done and dusted, where you can measure things like engagement and sentiment. And for the longer term you must be happy to correlate agile marketing wins with sales spikes, as you cannot accurately measure the effect of social or earned media on business performance.
What are your organisations goals? How can an agile marketing team support them? It is essential for responsive marketers to engage audiences in the right way. Focusing purely on ‘going viral’ is madness, unless there’s a strategic reason for doing so.
Marketing exists for one reason only, and if your sales and profits and brand metrics are all in decline then I doubt that your CEO will be too impressed that you trended on Twitter last month. Laser-guided marketing is the only form of marketing worth bothering with.
No doubt I’ll have missed some things out from the above list, so be sure to let me know in the comments area below. I’d also love to hear from any brands that are figuring out how to structure an agile marketing team, or have already done so (email chris@).