by Kat Grider
In the last few years marketers of every ilk have geeked out on the idea of agile. Enter “Agile Marketing” into Google and get back over 32 Million results. Type in “Agile Marketing” in the Amazon Books search and get back 111 results with 50% of the titles being written in the last 2 years despite the fact that ‘agile’ has been around since 2001. So why would do Bree and I feel it's important to add to the noise? Well, we find the buzz to be misleading at best and totally impractical at worst.
Here's some of the agile marketing buzz that really gives us pains (yes, some of these are from a few years ago, but they helped establish how people think about agile today):
- Agile Marketing is more suited for one channel than another. A lengthy 2012 iMedia article, “Why Agile Marketing is the Future of Digital”, puts a lot of emphasis on the idea that Social is the best channel for brand marketers to adopt agile best practices. We call shenanigans. Agile is channel agnostic.
- Agile Marketing is an internal stunt or a moment in time. Think with Google has “7 Agility Tips”. We don’t disagree with any of them, but we don’t think they actually help you put the rubber to the road in the reality of your situation. Co-locating the team and running day-long hackathons are awesome in theory but how often do you have the time, resources, support to implement these tips?
- Agile Marketers do everything faster. Another 2012 article, the Hubspot “7 Reasons Agile Marketers are Better at Their Job than You” implies on more than one occasion that agile is about speed. Reason #5 is “Agile Marketers can create landing pages quickly”. Again, we don’t disagree that speed is a huge benefit of Agile. But too often Agile gets sold as “quick” which quickly deteriorates into another word for “cheap”. Nothing good is ever cheap...except for pork rinds and really, those are questionable outside of the South.
- Agile Marketing practices are separate from, and parallel to, your current workflow. Mindjet’s 2013 article “Agile Marketing Series: How to Establish a Dual Operating System” implies that the best way to run agile in an existing hierarchy is to use a team of volunteers and focus not on the day-to-day but instead focus on exploration and innovation. The problem here is that the day-to-day is where most of us live and where we’re required to innovate.
- Agile is best for short-term projects. A recent post by Marketing Profs, “Agile: What Marketers can Learn from Software Developers” states that Agile Marketing for corporations is best suited to small teams focused on quick projects. We’ve found that focusing on the right talent and the right approach is far more important than cherry-picking a project...or worse yet...waiting for the ‘perfect’ agile project to come along.
- Agile Marketing is a set of seven values and eight principles. The 2012 Marketers Agile Manifesto crafted by a group of 30 marketing practitioners and based on 17 suggestions is a list of bullet points. Again, we don’t necessarily disagree with them…we just think they are well…a waste of precious time given that a well-phrased, concise and actionable agile manifesto already existed.
And, what's worse, buzz is just that, buzz. Hard to implement, replicate and scale. Which is why Bree and I are trying to cut through the vast amount of noise and provide a true signal:
- We embrace agile as a mindset, not a single process and believe it can and should be applied outside the realm of just software development and startups.
- We empower teams with concrete, tangible methods to apply an agile mindset that are designed to adapt to their account/project.
- We are convicted that the agile mindset is missing in the upstream work - the strategy, planning and scoping that all happens before you ever design or code a single thing.
We're planning on rolling out a few of the Aha Method frameworks to you over a series of posts in the near future. Giving you the tools to 'do' agile in your corner of the world. And, we don't want to hear anyone hiding behind the fear that clients expect a certain thing when they hear Agile Marketing - the buzz is so diverse that most clients/managers have an idea of the 'why' (nimble, flexible, responsive) but no preconceived notion of the 'how'. That means you're free to adapt, evolve and embrace the mindset in ways that make sense to your project/team.