Uncertainty and rapidly changing conditions means you may have to throw your old marketing plan out the window. Here are 4 steps you can take to be an adaptable and agile marketer, take action more quickly, and deliver faster results.
Great marketing planning depends on the ability to understand our customers needs and behaviours, to analyse past trends to predict future ones, and to have a fairly good understanding of what issues or opportunities are lurking just around the corner that will impact our business. That certainty gave us the ability to develop marketing plans and to create schedules and to set budgets.
But all that predictability and certainty is out the window at the moment. Our customers are working and behaving in ways they never have before. We are facing economic turbulence. And all the business rules are changing.
So now is the time to shift your marketing thinking. Now is the time to become an agile marketer and to develop a new approach to how you address the marketing puzzle.
Your goal is is conserve precious cash and deliver campaigns that reduce wastage. You need to be delivering campaigns swiftly, and deliver results faster in response to a rapidly changing landscape. And you want to keep your marketing engine running during these difficult times so that you continue to make progress even when the times are tough, and you are ready to come out fighting when the time is right.
The 4 tactics of an agile marketer
- Win bigger by betting small
- Experimentation in the new planning
- Strive for progress, not perfection
- Get closer to your data
1. Win bigger by betting small
What professional gamblers know is that the way to win is all about betting small before making the one big bet.
What they, and we as marketers, understand is that by betting small they are reducing the risk, and ultimately will led to a bigger payoff. And the more ideas we can try, the greater the probability that we will have of discovering a winner and being able to pivot if it doesn’t deliver the results you need.
We all intuitively know now is not the time to be rolling out big marketing campaigns, but there is an alternative to big, and that of course is small. Micro campaigns will enable you to do your research, identify how your target market will respond, and start to shape your thinking for your one big bet.
What do small marketing bets look like?
- running small highly targeted advertising campaigns focusing on just one of your propositions and marketing personas and drill down on measuring who is clicking what
- tweaking your marketing automation campaigns and lead nurturing programs
- building new relationships through social media
- making changes to the content and promotions and messaging on your website
- focusing on small market research projects and getting feedback from your current customers and target market
2. Experimentation is the new planning
We need to be honest. We have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow, let alone what is going to happen next month or next quarter.
So you need to develop a mindset and a set of processes that will enable you to identify new options, and explore new possibilities, and to test new alternatives.
In reality, your experiments will need to be focusing on what is possible with the means that you have at your disposal right now. And you want to be thinking like Jeff Bezos at Amazon, you need set yourself up so that you can run as many experiments per unit of time as possible.
In reality what that means is rather than having a deliberate marketing strategy you are going to have to shift to an emergent strategy where you learn something new every day, you create a culture of creating hypotheses and then experimenting with them to test them out.
What might these experiments look like?
You could be creating new and innovative forms of content on your website. Running A/B split tests on new messaging and propositions. Creating new offers and outreaching them to specific target markets. Advertising costs are tumbling during these tough times, so take advantage of these lower levels of competition.
The main thing is JDI: Just Do It.
3. Strive for progress, not perfection
As marketers, it is within our power to make constant and continuous progress moving forward. And a constant, committed marketing effort will, over time, yield bigger results in the end.
The power of small actions, even if they are imperfect, needs to be our focus. Every small step we make, every small change we deliver, we are moving forward.
The problem is the paralysis that arises when there is the desire to make everything perfect before launching.
And so the question is, when is good enough, good enough?
How can you make progress rapidly?
- Be aware of the cost of delay. What is the impact of not moving forward.. and if you are trying to make something perfect, will those last few tweaks be worth the cost of delaying the experiment?
- Focus on time to market. You need to get the campaign up and live to a deadline. What is likely to slow you down are delays in getting work signed off, out of date administrative tasks, and the lack of the information you need
- Work in partnership. Working with a reliable, trusted partner will help you roll out innovative campaigns more quickly. Leverage their experience. This isn’t the time to be reinventing the wheel. If the answer is already out there, use it.
4. Get closer to your data
This is the final stage to close the loop. As you are rolling out this small, slightly imperfect experiments, you need to find a way to track the results effectively, and share the results with everyone involved.
And these are your real world learnings, not conjecture or opinion. It is your data, based on your experiment, and it is invaluable in determining your next small bet.
Remember that collecting and sharing the data in real time will enable you to make better collaborative decisions and suggest ways of improving. Most importantly, now is not the time for fudging the data to make a bad campaign look successful. Having accurate data means you can learn how to tweak the campaign for next time, or make the decision to throw the whole thing in the bin and just try something new.
What kinds of things could your data be telling you?
- how well are your efforts like creating webinars and video performing?
- what kinds of messaging are getting the highest click throughs and engagement?
- what kinds of content are generating the most interest?
- what kinds of marketing activities are your competitors undertaking right now?