In marketing, buzzwords often emerge and acquire a definition which loses some of the original meaning of the term.
One recent example is the word ‘agile’ which now (capitalized) almost always refers to the project management method with stand-up meetings, sprints, and scrums.
But before it became identified with a business process, ‘agile’ described certain qualities in marketer such as ability, flexibility, and responsiveness. So, we wondered if marketers could still be agile in a broad sense, even if their company has never held a ‘stand-up meeting’ or a ‘scrum’?
In order to find out, we recently invited dozens of client-side marketers to discuss this and other topics with their peers. At a table moderated by Karen Lau, Marketing Director, APAC, Johnson Controls, marketers discussed what it meant to be ‘agile’ and arrived at five key qualities that agile marketers should have, summarized below.
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So, what are the main qualities of an ‘agile’ marketer?
1) They understand the buying journey
The first quality mentioned by participants is that an agile marketer must understand their customer inside and out. That is, they must know how their customers interact with the brand from every angle:
- How they search for information
- What are the key decision-making touchpoints
- How they typically make a purchase
- What keeps them engaged and loyal
And we have to remember this customer-centric approach is quite new. Previously, many marketers were highly-skilled at certain tactics which were then coordinated by management.
Now, however, everyone agreed, marketers need to have a more holistic view of the buying process no matter where they are working.
2) They are data-driven
The next characteristic of an agile marketer is that they must have a firm grip on online analytics. This means ensuring that the web or platform analytics is producing high-quality performance data and coming up with a plan with the results.
Too often, participants said, data is collected and shared with no guidance and so each marketer interprets it in their own way.
An agile, data-driven marketer will attempt to derive meaning from every report and use that to drive more engagement, conversions, and sales.
3) They react efficiently and appropriately
Another quality of an agile marketer is that they respond to new situations quickly and sensibly.
For many brands, this may mean being able to deal with a detractor on social media or even handling a crisis. For others, it means being able to write automation scripts which handle sign-ups, abandoned carts, and customer enquiries as efficiently as possible.
Content marketing, too, can be agile. One participant told the group that when they deliver content in a series, they will produce multiple versions of the next ‘episode’ so that they can react quickly and appropriately to comments from their audience.
All of these examples, however, require both training and planning on behalf of the marketing team, according to attendees. Agility, it seems, is learned and developed over time.
4) They are digital at the core
Finally, participants said that in order to be agile in today’s media environment, a marketer needs to be natively digital.
The reason, they argued, is that in order to add value across the new customer journey, marketers need to be familiar with how to use all of the digital channels effectively as well as understand the corresponding analytics.
A marketer with these qualities has been described previously by Econsultancy as ‘pi-shaped’, meaning someone who is ‘analytical and data-driven, yet understands brands, storytelling and experiential marketing.’ (You can take a test here to determine what sort of marketer you are)
Regardless of what such people are called, though, it seems from the discussions that those in our industry are now expected to have a wide variety of skills and qualities that go beyond the conventional definition of a marketer.
A word of thanks
Econsultancy would like to thank Karen Lau, Marketing Director, APAC, Johnson Controls for hosting the Agile Marketing table and providing us with some great ideas about what it means to be a modern, agile marketer.
We’d also like to thank all of the marketers who attended Digital Cream Singapore 2017 and shared their valuable insights – and we hope to see you all at future Econsultancy events!