By Jim Hennessey

Here at Event 360, our Consumer Marketing team operates on the basic principles of Agile Marketing. You may have heard the term before, but do you know what it is and how it can help your marketing team perform better? Let’s take a look.

What is Agile Marketing?

Agile is a tactical marketing approach in which marketing teams collectively identify high value projects on which to focus their collective efforts. Using agile principles, marketing teams can open up entirely new ways to reach their audience and hit their goals.

A recent study on Agile Marketing by Wrike found the top benefits of agile to be: improved work quality; speed of execution; and better alignment of priorities.

Here at Event 360, Agile Marketing allows us to:

  • Respond quickly to changes in the market;
  • Produce campaigns quickly that can be tested and optimized in real time;
  • Try lots of things and repeat the ones that work;
  • Make decisions on campaigns and projects with hard data;
  • Collaborate with team members to prevent tunnel-vision.

Where did Agile begin??

Agile was born in the world of software development. Traditional development methods were criticized as being bureaucratic and over-regimented, unable to respond quickly enough to new developments and even minor changes in scope. As a result, industry thought leaders in the 1990’s started to promote more innovative approaches.

Agile Software Development emerged in 2001 and was presented in a now famous ‘Agile Manifesto’ which stated;

  • Individuals and interactions – over processes and tools;
  • Working software – over comprehensive documentation;
  • Customer collaboration – over contract negotiation;
  • Responding to change – over following a plan.

What are the basics of Agile Marketing?

At the core, Agile Marketing is all about real time communication and collaboration. By encouraging communication and collaboration amongst marketing team members, leaders, clients, and other stakeholders, everyone has a clearer idea of what they are expecting to achieve and why.

Understanding the goal is vital at the start of Agile projects. Marketing goals are set out as part of the strategy and tactics plan. You still need to have a long-term strategy in place, but the Agile process of plan-do-review enables you to have a more real-time view of accomplishments and quickly identifies changes that need to be made to strategy or direction.

Every marketing department will find an Agile format that works best for them, but all Agile Marketing programs should have these four features in some form or fashion:

Sprints – A sprint is how long you give your team to complete their current projects. At Event 360, these sprints are very casual. In more formal Agile programs, they can typically range from 2-6 weeks. Bigger initiatives won’t fit into a single sprint, so they are broken up into bite sized pieces that can be tackled sprint by sprint.

Stand up meetings (we call them Huddles) – Every day the team gets together for a brief check in/huddle. These are 15 minutes at the most. Each team member goes over what they’re planning to do today, and any blocks they’ve encountered. Blocks should be addressed right away.

Tracking Board (we use Basecamp) – Whether it’s the good ole’ white board with sticky notes, a nice and simple Trello board, or a fancy specialized software (we use Basecamp), Agile Marketing needs a centralized way to track each sprint that every team member can access.

Teamwork – While an individual may “own” a project, the success or failure of the sprint rests on ALL the team members. Everybody has to be prepared to collaborate and assist in the Agile framework. At Event 360, we deploy our team’s talents to all projects using this approach.

That’s just the tip of the Agile Marketing iceberg. The best part of Agile is that it adapts to your particular needs and resources. Agile works in large marketing departments or small – our team at Event 360 is under five people. It even works for marketing teams of one!

When you start getting more specific and looking at the possibilities on a project-by-project and sprint-by-sprint basis, the list of Agile possibilities is virtually endless.

There are a couple of great books on Agile Marketing to get you started. I recommend Agile Marketing by Michelle Petersen and The Agile Marketer by Roland Smart as two good reads to get your program started.

JimHennessey(LinkedIn, Twitter) is the Director, Consumer Marketing atEvent 360. He leads the marketing and social media strategy forMuckFest® MSand works with other organizations with digital marketing programs to support their peer to peer events and fundraising. Jim lives in Chicago.


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