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What is agile marketing and should you be sprinting to it?

James A. Martin | April 18, 2016
Agile marketing, an adaptation of the agile software development methodology, is a real thing. If you have any doubt, check out what your competition is doing. Here are seven things you need to know about agile marketing.

Several high-tech marketers began experimenting with agile techniques in the early-mid 2000s.

One of the first blog posts on agile marketing practices appeared in February 2006, published by Matt Blumberg, chairman and CEO of Return Path. In his post, Blumberg wrote about the challenges that faced Return Path’s marketing efforts at that time: “Multiple external and internal stakeholders with competing priorities. Poor communication. Needing to be nimble and agile in a process that has some inherent long lead-time items.”

To get beyond those roadblocks, Return Path experimented with agile marketing. The results, according to Blumberg’s post:

“We now plan marketing in six-week ‘releases,’ each of which has 1-2 core themes and a planning session up front with our head of sales and business GMs. Each release has two, three-week ‘iterations’ where we do mid-course corrections and track our marketing team members’ utilization on projects very deliberately...The marketing team has a daily stand-up (meeting) to review progress and identify roadblocks. And we still have enough slack in the system that we can handle a couple of last-minute opportunistic items…which invariably come up.”

4. Why you need agile marketing?

“Agility is the new name of the marketing game,” said Shubu Mitra, director of connection planning effectiveness and productivity for Coca-Cola, in a MarTech session on agile marketing. “New consumer touch points, like Snapchat, are appearing fast and furious. Touch point behavior morphs fast, like Instagram changing from a chronological feed to a more personalized feed.”

oreo tweet
This famous Oreo tweet during a Super Bowl power outage in 2013 is an early example of agile marketing.

With technology driving so much rapid change, marketing organizations today need to be ready to spring into action or change course at a moment’s notice. “Planning is important, but it’s more important to be ready to modify your plans,” Mitra added.

5. What’s an example of agile marketing?

“Digital is a huge part of marketing today,” added Mitra, mentioning a now-famous Oreo tweet at MarTech as a good example of agile marketing.

On February 3, 2013, a power outage hit the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans during the Super Bowl. The digital marketing agency behind Nabisco’s Oreo cookie, 360i, reportedly designed, captioned, approved and posted to Twitter and Facebook within minutes an image of an Oreo cookie illuminated with what looked like a lantern or flashlight beam. The image, posted to the @Oreo Twitter account, featured the caption: “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.”

The tweet was retweeted more than 14,000 times and earned more than 20,000 likes on Facebook. BuzzFeed raved that the tweet was “perfectly zeitgeisty” and was “the most powerful bit of marketing during the advertising industry’s most expensive day.”


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