The Agile Marketing Manifesto – compiled by a group of marketers in 2012 –is by no means complete, and itself a victim of the evolving marketplace since it was first written. However, it provides a good framework for what Agile means to most businesses.
1. Validated Learning over Options and Conventions
It is a process of validating our learning through a implement-measure-learn feedback loop, rather than of following conventions or deciding what’s best based on the opinion of the highest paid person in the room (HIPPO).
It's worth reading our article on ‘Data Driven Behavioural Insights’ to fully understand the importance of data in marketing decision making. The amount of data we provide our clients is unlike any other product ever made available to business in the past, and it is done so in order to provide a clear understanding of what the consumer market is looking to achieve. Based on the circular SARA decision-making model of ‘Search/Scan, Analyse, Response, and Assessment” (and there are dozens of variants), we can constantly improve our efforts based on a somewhat sterile approach to known analytics.
“HiPPOs are leaders who are so self-assured that they need neither other's ideas nor data to affirm the correctness of their instinctual beliefs. Relying on their experience and smarts, they are quick to shoot down contradictory positions and dismissive of underling's input.
Source: Forbes , 15th April 2013.
The HIPPO principle is one demonstrated by the archaic management style of JC Penney’s Ron Johnson. Johnson’s 52-million per year package fuelled the executive’s belief in his prowess based on nothing more than his pay check. What devolved in that business was a culture of groupthink and gut-based decision-making – usually contrary to known statistical insights.
Instead of writing a 100-page marketing plan every year, write a one-page set of objectives every quarter. This way it’s easier to communicate our core goals to applicable stakeholders, and it means we’re in a better position to provide a course-correction when required.
2. Custom Focused Collaboration over Silos and Hierarchy
Collaboration, focused on the needs of the customer, produces better marketing than siloed, departmental turf wars and strict adherence to hierarchical decision making. Silos lead to tribal knowledge dying in a marketing organization which leads to deviation from the customer needs.
More applicable to larger organisations that survive and thrive on “taking credit”, data is often protected and denied by each department (or “silo”) within a marketing department. The net result, of course, is a diminished end result. Agile relies on regular collaboration – usually by means of integrated software systems that provide real-time tracking on projects that relate to shared goals.
3. Adaptive and Iterative Campaigns over Big-Bang Campaigns
A non-linear, adaptive approach, which involves starting with a little strategy, implementing it quickly, getting insight into its success (or failure) with customers, adjusting and continuing to learn, is preferable to the conventional, linear big-bang campaigns, where big ideas are built, launched, and often either fail or are justified with metrics designed to tell a story.
The iterative, emergent, agile development process sometimes doesn’t work in the first few iterations, and may require a pivot to trying something else entirely different.
Clearly written by somebody with experience in corporate communications and media, this point emphasises the need for a course-correcting and ever-changing strategy based on known metrics or feedback garnished from any campaign. In smaller businesses we have to understand that our initial big idea won’t resemble the final product.
In the ultimate act of Agility, products or businesses need to formulate their core identify, or those of their products, by recognising emerging trends. Twitter was once a podcast subscription service known as Odeo; Instagram was once a check-in application known as Burgn; and Nintendo once manufactured vacuum cleaners and instant rice. The list goes on. One of our own smaller brokerage clients is now an online-only product aggregator. Your marketing efforts and products are in a constant state of Pivot.
4. The Process of Customer Discovery Over Static Prediction
Customers often don’t act in the neat, predictable ways that we assume they’ll act. Marketing is an act of customer discovery. Understanding customers is hard work, and while it may not quite reach the level of uncertainty of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, it does require constant respect for the customer and consistent engagement. The iterative, emergent, agile development process sometimes doesn’t work in the first few iterations, and may require a pivot to trying something else entirely different.
First, in quantum mechanics, "the uncertainty principle (also known as Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle) is any of a variety of mathematical inequalities asserting a fundamental limit to the precision with which the values for certain pairs of physical quantities of a particle, such as position, x, and momentum, p, can be predicted from initial conditions" [ Definition Source: Wikipedia ].
What this essentially means is that your marketing – even the marketing that works – is in a constant state of development, evolution, and flux. What works can always work better... and unlike the Uncertainty Principle we don’t rely on variances in the system in place before split-testing each consumer experience.
The uncertainty principle implies that it is in general not possible to predict the value of a quantity (results) with arbitrary certainty, even if all initial conditions are specified (those elements of the funnel). Having faith in a single marketing exercise is fraught with the same danger; our marketing results can always be improved upon.
5. Flexible vs. Rigid Planning
Plans must adapt to change. Planning by itself is not bad. As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything”. But marketing is like war; just as no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, no marketing plan survives contact with the real, constantly changing market.
The fourth point tends to define agility better than any other. Adaptability is key to good marketing.
6. Responding to Change Over Following a Plan
This value comes from the original Manifesto for Agile Software Development published by the developers back in 2001.
Any change in the market should be seen as a means to improve upon your product or campaign rather than an obstacle. Using agile management principles project teams can respond quickly to customers, product users, and the market in general. Following a plan and the flexibility of a plan aren’t nearly as diametrically opposed as you might think if you consider each plan somewhat flawed to begin with.
7. Many Small Experiments over a Few large Bets
The idea for this value came from Scott Brinker’s 2010 post Ideas for an Agile Marketing Manifesto . It was reinforced by the following image, presented by Rohn Jay Miller, and based on work by David Armano and the Made By Many agency.
Pictured: "Many Small Experiments over a Few Large Bets". Any one project is made up of a number of moving parts. Each moving part can be modified or adjusted to test the return.
As part of SprintZero back in 2012 a number of principles were slated. They weren’t voted upon for formalised but they’re worthy of reproduction.
In summarising the Manifesto we should come back to the simple definition of "agile": “Able to move quickly and easily... the division of tasks into short phases of work and frequent reassessment and adaptation of plans”. The manifesto itself tends to a be a little repetitious and includes a large amount of overlap, so it’s important that you don't get bogged down by rhetoric and instead focus on the core attributes of a responsive business, and flexible marketing program.
Your marketing programs shouldn't be static, should always evolve, should be the result of a shared collaborative effort, and must be responsive to the needs of consumers.
This content was originally published here.