Introducing the 12 principles of agile marketing

“Agile” is the latest buzzword taking over businesses – from small businesses to corporates, everyone wants to be “agile”.

But what does agile actually mean?

Simply, it means able to move quickly and easily.

At Proposition, as we’ve developed our approach to solving the growth challenge for modern organisations, we’ve hit on this original meaning of agile as the secret sauce behind delivering sustainable, consistent and profitable growth.

Let’s take a look at where agile marketing has come from, and how we’ve adapted it to our business.

A brief history of agility

During the 1990s, the software development community began to evolve lightweight development practices in response to the high rate of failures experienced by overweight, bloated software projects being delivered in the traditional way.

In 2001, seventeen of these developers met at a ski resort in Utah to discuss the methodologies (such as Scrum and Extreme Programming) that were developing to address these challenges.

The resulting document was the Manifesto for Agile Software Development.

This manifesto focused on the following values:

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

These translated to twelve principles:

  1. Customer satisfaction by early and continuous delivery
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even in late development.
  3. Deliver working software frequently (weeks rather than months)
  4. Close, daily cooperation between business people and developers
  5. Projects are built around motivated individuals, who should be trusted
  6. Face-to-face conversation is the best form of communication (co-location)
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress
  8. Sustainable development, able to maintain a constant pace
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design
  10. Simplicity—the art of maximizing the amount of work not done—is essential
  11. Best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams
  12. Regularly, the team reflects on how to become more effective, and adjusts accordingly

The Manifesto for Agile Software Development inspired developers to completely change the way that they ran software development projects, and has been a driving force behind the explosion of rapid, fail fast development projects (like Facebook) over the last 20 years.

The marketing challenge

It’s pretty obvious why software development needed to change – but there are other industries that have long followed the same “development” processes that need to adapt too.

Marketing is a perfect example.

For many years, marketing has been all about running big campaigns, launched with expensive creative across channels that had to be planned well in advance. One of the keys to executing these campaigns was detailed, sequential project management. You can’t run a TV commercial in a booked slot if you haven’t produced the commercial!

However, as we’ve shifted towards a digital environment, many marketing practices have remained the same.

We market in a rapid response world, and we can test and measure on the fly. Our content creation tools enable us to make rapid tweaks to campaigns, and our digital analytics enable us to adjust targeting and placement then and there.

The fundamentals behind how our campaigns and marketing activity works has changed completely.

So why haven’t our campaign development and project management practices?

Why agile marketing?

The marketing world has an opportunity to evolve – to become a test and learn, rapid response environment where we prioritise quality outcomes for the business over the traditional methodology of campaign management.

Unfortunately, no readymade framework exists in the marketing world – we had to build our own.

At Proposition, we worked on adapting agile software development principles to suit the needs of our marketing customers. We were looking for a framework that would:

  • Put results and performance at the heart of every campaign we ran
  • Prioritise speed to market for marketing activity, minimising the opportunity cost of not having campaigns in market
  • Enable us to build a collaborative customer relationship, acting as a partner rather than a service provider
  • Be responsive to change, and recognise that all activity can be improved as we learn more

Taking inspiration from the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, we began building a framework that we could deploy across all our clients, regardless of their individual requirements.

The 12 Principles of Agile Marketing

This framework became our principles of agile marketing. They were closely aligned to the original principles of agile software development (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!)

  1. Drive customer satisfaction by rapidly getting campaigns in market, and then optimize and improve
  2. Every customer response and datapoint represents a changing environment – listen, learn and adapt
  3. Regularly review and improve marketing activity, to take advantage of the compounding effect of improvement
  4. Collaborate from the start by building an expert team – both from the business and from marketing
  5. Empower the project team to attack problems in the way they see fit – trust goes a long way
  6. Verbal or video communication is the way to go – too much gets lost in translation over email
  7. Return on Investment is the primary measure of progress – the project team should consider the whole-of-business outcome, not just the vanity metrics that make them look good
  8. Consistency and sustainability are everything – burning bright and flaming out costs marketing campaigns a significant amount of tail-end return
  9. Quality is a continuous priority, not something you fix at the end of the project
  10. Keep it simple – the best marketing campaigns are often simple concepts, well executed
  11. Systems are everything – make sure that work is tracked, monitored and that progress is available to everyone
  12. Keep improving – nothing is ever done, so the team should continuously reflect on how they can improve their performance

These 12 principles are now reflected in everything we do – from the way we organise our agile marketing teams, to the way we carry out client campaigns and monitor performance.

As we've adopted them across our business, we've found that a commitment to agile marketing delivers results across the board. We're able to be flexible and test and learn, as well as go all-in on high performing campaigns.

Combining our agile marketing principles with a strong commercial focus translates into real growth across the board for our clients.

Our agile marketing approach is adaptable to all sorts of growth challenges. If you’d like to find out more about how it could apply to your business, get in touch with us.

Posted on

June 25, 2019