Big Bang Marketing is Out – Agile is In

Big Bang Marketing

I got the idea for a blog post from an interview with Jeremy Burton, chief marketing officer of EMC.  Burton made some great points in the interview, including the fact that he believes the big B2B marketing trends going forward are the use of video, analytics, and process automation. But to me, the most important points he made were about how the agile product development methodologies can be applied to the world of marketing. As Burton describes, Big Bang marketing is out and has been replaced by a series of sprints and changes.

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In the old days (e.g. recent decades), marketers tried to make a splash through the Big Bang approach. This could be a massive advertising campaign (e.g. multi-million dollar Super Bowl commercials), huge direct marketing promotions, or a total pivot of a company to promote one particular product or service. This approach requires a huge upfront time commitment, lots of planning and data analysis, and careful management and monitoring from beginning to final results.

By contrast, as Wikipedia describes agile development, it is based on adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery, a time-boxed iterative approach, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change. So how does an agile approach apply to the world of B2B marketing?  Here are some guiding principles:

  1. Agile marketing is iterative. The principle is to launch quickly and determine if you are headed in the right direction. If the campaign totally bombs, congratulations, you have failed fast and can move onto the next idea. If it succeeds partially or fully you can either tweak it over time or ramp/scale it quickly depending on the risk and opportunity.
  2. Agile marketing depends on good messaging.  Big Bang and agile campaigns have one major thing in common – they require compelling and differentiated messaging to be successful.  But agile marketing will require micro, finely-tuned messages aimed at specific target segments.
  3. Agile marketing is data-driven.  You may have heard the expression, “marketing is both an art and a science.” Good marketers are artists, but they are also scientists. And the scientific part of marketing hinges on precise analytics to make the right choices going forward.
  4. Agile marketing is evolutionary. By evolutionary, I mean that every individual campaign teaches you something useful.  Sometimes the lesson is painful and sometimes it is pleasurable, but either way it is a valuable asset – as long as you learn and apply the lessons.
  5. Agile marketing is innovative.  By this I mean that the agile marketer is always ready to try something new to move the ball forward.

Our clients are not Fortune 1000 companies that can afford to spend a lot of time and money and still get it wrong. We depend on all the principles and tactics of agile marketing.

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One comment

  • Myron Berg February 5, 2014   Reply →

    I like how this is a bit of a different twist on the concept of agile marketing. Traditionally, agile marketing, like agile development, has been more about the iterative workflow itself than the marketing strategy.

    But the concept of a rapid and flexible response to market feedback is critical in B2B marketing. It’s better to fail fast and quickly adapt than to spend significant time and resources before changing course.

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