What Being Agile Means for Today’s Marketers

In today’s world of marketing we have new things bombarding us on a daily basis. The newest trend, the newest buzz word, the newest technology. As I think back on my own career, it’s hard to believe that once upon a time I thought variable printing on direct mail was revolutionary. (And yes, I just aged myself.) If someone had told me back then that within the next twenty years we’d be focusing on things like how to make email communications render properly across mobile devices I would have thought they were crazy.

Agile

*photo credit: Thinkstock

The reality is we must keep up with the latest trends, buzz words, technology….all of it. Otherwise we’ll be left behind. Our prospects and customers are no longer passive targets. They are armed with all the tools and means to proactively access information and conduct product research all by themselves. They aren’t sitting around waiting on us to tell them what to buy or how to buy it. They’re figuring it all out on their own.

What that means for marketers is we need to be agile. Change is inevitable, and in fact, it seems to be happening faster and faster as time goes on. We as marketers need to be able to change to meet the needs of our prospects and customers. And we must be able to do it quickly in order to stay relevant and competitive.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you testing and tracking the results of your marketing efforts to know what is working and what isn’t?

If you’re unable to track what channels, content offers and messages are generating inbound engagement and outbound response you’ll be at a loss for knowing what is resonating with your audience. In order to change, you need to first know whether you need to make a change or not. That requires benchmarking yourself both internally against past efforts and externally against industry peers. Take a look at last year’s B2B Enterprise Demand Generation Study by ANNUITAS to get a general idea about what KPIs and areas to focus on. Don’t be afraid to test new things and embrace change.

  1. Do you have a means for conducting customer discovery?

As I’ve stated, a big part of being an agile marketer is the ability to adapt to your customers’ needs. If you don’t have a means for finding out what your customers want, you’re probably already falling behind your competition.

  • Do you truly know how your target audience is or are you guessing based on internal speculation?
  • Do you know what drives your prospects to start searching for a new solution?
  • Do you know where they go to research, shop and buy?
  • Do you know what types of content they prefer?

If you can’t answer these questions, you need to figure out a way to do so. Whether it’s customer surveys, going out on the road with your sales force on a regular basis, or interviewing customers and prospects yourself…this needs to be done, and done regularly. It’s not good enough to do this once a year. As we know, change is happening all around us. We must keep ourselves on the pulse of the change so that we can adapt to our customers ever-changing needs.

  1. Does your company foster learning in new methodologies, new techniques, new technologies?

I’m proud to say that at ANNUITAS we have a culture of constant learning. The collaboration across teams to share new best practices and the constant encouragement and support for technology certifications keeps us all in a spirit of continuous improvement and adaptation. This type of culture comes from the top down. An organization’s leaders must encourage collaboration and sharing rather than silos and hierarchy by doing the following:

  • Making it easy for employees to access the latest marketing trends, statistics, etc.
  • Rewarding employees who try new things, whether they succeed or not.
  • Scheduling regular check-ins to share best practice learnings, results of testing, and findings from your customer research.

And the hardest question…

  1. Are you willing to change if necessary?

I hear it all the time from clients, albeit in various ways. It may be fear that the quantity of “leads” will decrease. It may be fear that they don’t have the right resources to conduct the change. Or it may be fear that the ROI of their efforts won’t meet expectations. In most cases, what marketing is doing today isn’t working optimally. And even if it is, there’s no guarantee that it will continue to work as customers’ needs change, new technologies are introduced, and new competitors enter the market. So in reality, what do we have to lose by trying new things as long as we track results and learn from them?

The truth is that change will always happen, and if we as marketers aren’t agile enough to adapt to that change we will fail. Focusing on building an organization that knows where it needs to change, how it needs to change, and rewards change is a step in the right direction. To learn more about what it means to use agile practices today in business read the book, Growing Up Fast by Jascha Kaykas-Wolff and Kevin Fann. It’s a great resource to help you see the value in developing an agile mindset.

Author: Jennifer Harmel @JenniferHarmel2 EVP, Demand Process Strategy Practice and Principal, ANNUITAS

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