What is Agile Marketing?

Global Chief Growth Officer

January 17, 2013

We’re privileged to live in the most exciting time in the history of marketing.

While every profession has been impacted by the explosion of ubiquitous computing and connectivity in the digital age, its impact on marketing has undoubtedly been the most profound.

A large advertising budget is no longer the centerpiece of marketing.

As the world has moved online, the distance between companies and customers has collapsed to zero. Google calls it the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), and it changes everything. Previously, high costs and slow lead times were the price marketers paid to cross the physical chasm to their audience—and that bridge only went in one direction. Marketing management and infrastructure were built around those constraints.

But today, information and interactions flow freely both ways. Costs and lead times for many marketing activities, at least as dictated by external constraints, have shrunk. A large advertising budget is no longer the centerpiece of marketing.

Instead, customer intimacy has become the new crown jewel. It encompasses the entire firm and it has elevated marketing to the vanguard of business leadership. I propose to you that in this new era, the most valuable marketing capability is agility.

Consider three waves of agile transformation in marketing

  • The first wave was driven by the proliferation of digital channels themselves.
  • The second wave of agile transformation is now arriving: a massive new generation of marketing technology platforms that provide software-based levers to manage this load at scale. Marketing analytics, marketing automation, marketing optimisation—these tools thrive on the dynamics of the digital domain. For many marketers, however, something else is becoming the gating factor in their performance.
  • It is this bottleneck that is the focus of the third wave of agile transformation: making the marketing organisation itself truly agile.

Up to this point, digital was largely squeezed into marketing management and governance structures that predated it by decades. But now we’ve reached an inflection point where it’s manifest:

Digital is our new foundation, not our window dressing. To harness the agility of digital channels and technologies, we must now adapt our organisations to operate at this new speed. Agile Marketing methodologies—by no coincidence, are adapted from the agile development methodologies that revolutionised modern software. They promote a better way of managing marketing in this dynamic environment and let us act and react at the speed of digital.

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