Agile Marketing is taking the principles of the agile methodology and applying them to marketing.
The 12-month marketing plan has been suffering for years inside of companies as marketing executives and C-Suite leaders clung to the tradition of the one-time strategic annual plan. COVID finally put it out of its misery.
The normal cycle of annual marketing plans, when executed well, usually involves taking the long-term and short-term goals of a company and coming up with a year’s worth of projects and campaigns with deadlines. That plan is then delegated and managed by a marketing director to make sure the team completes the work on time. Working like this does not allow for changes to strategy, analysis of what’s working and not working, or cross-department collaboration.
Annual Strategy = Good
Set-It-And-Forget-It Plans = Bad
Even as younger marketing leaders move into the space and become more and more digitally savvy, it’s been difficult for companies large and small to break away from annual campaign project plans and become more responsive. Traditional marketing agencies often function the same way – creating annual plans that match with annual contracts for a set scope of work. What happens when something needs to change?
Hot Dog Marketing was that firm – set on having annual contracts, a tighter scope of work, more and more debate about the best way to control unknowns. And it worked OK for a long time. But the landscape is shifting too quickly to continue working this way.
Vastly Changing Digital Landscape
The world of commerce saw a rapid digital transformation during COVID. Technology platforms worked in overdrive to come up with new features to support the growing need to move services and product shopping online. Social platforms have more features that you think you know including social shopping and buying behavior segmentation. TikTok emerged as one of the fastest ways to get eyes on your brand. With anything new, you had to be an early-stage user to get the biggest impact for your effort.
In addition, your competition’s savviness with digital experience and messaging is growing. While you may be stuck following a 12-month plan, younger brands are jumping on opportunities. A recent study by Meta, Facebook’s parent company, shows brand loyalty is at an all-time low. That’s because of the emergence of so many other competitive brands marketing online.
With customers expecting more and more from their online experiences, content has evolved to be more creative and more aligned with customers’ journeys. It’s less about curating helpful information – it’s more about messaging and sophisticated design and delivery. Video is more important than ever and very rarely does video production not require some flexibility with the budget and plan.
Agile marketing is how Hot Dog Marketing is changing to better partner with our clients. Rather than long-term contracts with strict scopes or annual plans with managed services that meet the goal of consistency but maybe not creativity, agile marketing allows us to work in shorter plans, constantly prioritizing what should be done next and leaving plenty of room for creativity.
Inspired by the project planning methodology that has worked well for software companies, agile marketing works with short-term goals that lead up to larger goals. Ideas and work tasks are prioritized by how much impact the team believes it has on meeting the goal, and a list of ideas and future tasks are kept in a backlog of work to pull from. The work is then completed in sprints where the team dedicates resources for short periods of time focused on completing those goals.
How Hot Dog Marketing Does Agile
With Agile marketing, you are no longer in-scope or out-of-scope with your ideas. Both clients and our agency team have the freedom to come up with new ideas that we think will help reach client goals faster. The budget is now determined by how much effort is set each month.
Hot Dog Marketing uses a points-based system, also borrowed from the software industry. Points are defined by a combination of time, effort, expertise, difficulty of the task, etc. While they may seem slightly subjective at first, pricing services by points becomes a second language to a company that adopts the system. Everyone at Hot Dog Marketing learns how much a service is worth based on its operational cost and the value the service provides the client. Our clients purchase points at $100 per point and commit to a monthly point budget for a 90-day cycle. For example, $5,000.00/month buys 50 points each month.
We then use the client’s budget to plan a 90-day cycle – 50 points of services per month for 90 days. We meet every 30 days to plan each month’s work (sprint) and conduct strategy every 90 days to set short-term goals that lead to the long-term goals we’re working towards. While each 90-day cycle may have 150 points of ideas already in the backlog, the agency team and the client have the flexibility to propose new ideas based on new information that became available in the previous sprint. Responding to campaign changes, SEO issues, or deciding we need to perform more discovery to get something right are all on the table instead of being out-of-scope.
As mentioned earlier, set-it-and-forget-it marketing doesn’t usually yield results. Agile marketing, when handled by an agency, requires client collaboration and proactive communication. For us, this means that our clients must be responsive to our requests so our team can stay on schedule during a sprint. They must be open to meeting monthly to review plans for the upcoming 30 days. They must be willing to participate in mini-strategy meetings with the team every 90 days and be open to making changes to the plan when new information becomes available. Collaboration is key to making agile marketing work.
We are transitioning all our marketing engagements to agile marketing in 2022. Hot Dog Marketing feels strongly that working this way ensures successful engagements, better results, and an easier day-to-day operation as an agency.
If you’re interested in learning more, contact us to set up a consultation. We’ll still provide workshops and projects as one-time engagements, but our commitment is to move from a managed service mindset to something that allows for much more creativity.
I’m a mom, a small business owner, and I’m a marketing professional with over a decade helping businesses with their branding and online presence. When I’m not spending time with my family or on my business, I love cooking (and eating) and snuggling with my dogs while I binge on TV shows. My favorite authors are Malcolm Gladwell and Steve Martin. My favorite movies are L.A. Story, Little Mermaid, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and Trainspotting.