What is Agile Marketing?

What is 'Agile' Marketing?
Change has been a constant in the marketing world but never has change been so rapid.
Take tablets as an example. Penetration in the UK is already pushing 30%  despite the fact that the iPad launched just 3 years ago. Compare that to the rate of adoption of the mobile phone, where 30% penetration took many more years. The speed with which we take up new technologies is increasing.
And it's not just that about the more rapid adoption of technology.  Social media, be it Facebook, Twitter or blogs, is ensuring that good and bad news is travelling further and faster than ever before - an opportunity and a threat for marketers.
So how should marketers react to this ever-changing world where plans can become obsolete in months, weeks or even days? Marketers need to become less 'planned' and more 'agile'.
But what precisely is agile marketing? For us, there are 4 main themes:
Being Responsive to Change Over Following a Strict Plan
Agile marketing is about not being tied into long planning cycles but and having the ability to react to short terms events - whether they be internal (like sales) or external (like local, national and even global news).
Take the SuperBowl, the biggest televised event in the US.  Big brands take months, and spend thousands, planning their SuperBowl campaigns - perhaps an example of the 'old' approach to marketing.  But many brands created almost as much impact for much less money by their clever reactions to the partial blackout that delayed this year's SuperBowl for 34 minutes.
Take Audi's response (see below) - one simple tweet that generated almost 10,000 retweets and over 3,000 favourites.
And it's not just about being responsive to 'social news', it can be about reacting to competitors too, as this outdoor duel between Audi and BMW demonstrates.
Of course, our increasingly viral world has its downsides as well as upsides as this ill-informed and ill-judged attempt to capitalise on the Twitter-trending Aurora massacre shows.
A Desire to Experiment (and Learn from those Experiments)
Experimentation is central to agile marketing - trying new things and continually learning from those experiments. It's a mantra we preach here at Cream.
Take fashion retailer and Cream client Hobbs.  After our research uncovered a potentially lucrative customer segment the decision was taken to test our theory with marketing activity targeted specifically to that segment, including an in-store event.  The store that hosted the event experienced its highest ever trading day's trading - and that segment is now central to their marketing plans.
That experiment was a success but with the agile approach it doesn't matter if it is or it isn't. What's key is the desire to continually try new things, to learn from those experiments, as long as those learnings can inform future activity.
Marketing 1-to-1 Whenever the Opportunity Presents Itself
In this era of Facebook, Twitter and even email, the opportunity for marketers to interact with customers on a 1-to-1 basis has never been greater. The impact of that activity can extend well beyond that individual.
An example would be the exchange of letters between Sainsbury's customer Lily Robinson (aged 3 1/2) - who queried why tiger bread was called tiger bread because it looked more like a giraffe - and Sainsbury's Customer Manager, Chris King (aged 27 1/3) who agreed and instigated a change of name to 'giraffe bread'. Both letters went viral - featuring in the Huffington Post and the Sun, the topic trended on Twitter, and when posted on Facebook garnered over 150,000 likes and almost 50,000 shares.
Being Ruled by Testing and Data Not Conventions or Assumptions
Agile marketing puts much more store by testing, and observing and utilising the learnings from those tests, than lengthy upfront planning.
It's an approach we advocate for our clients, particularly with digital campaigns.  Although our planning is meticulous, particularly when it comes to defining how a campaign is going to be measured, we take an agile approach to campaign optimisation. By continuously mining and analysing the response data from campaign launch- including post site visit, if available - we can make real time adjustments to the campaign which optimise the results and maximise the effectiveness of our clients budgets.
In short agile marketing is about shorting planning cycles, testing and learning and recognising and seizing opportunities on the fly. It requires an open and collaborative approach between agencies and clients and trust and empowerment to ensure opportunities are capitalised on before they vanish.
In practice, a consistently agile approach is not easy to achieve.  But as the pressure increases on marketing budgets, and marketers are ever more closely scrutinised for the results they deliver, we expect many more to try.

Change has been a constant in the marketing world but never has change been so rapid.Take tablets as an example. Penetration in the UK is already pushing 30%  despite the fact that the iPad launched just 3 years ago. Compare that to the rate of adoption of the mobile phone, where 30% penetration took many more years. The speed with which we take up new technologies is increasing.And it's not just that about the more rapid adoption of technology.  Social media - be it Facebook, Twitter or blogs - is ensuring that good and bad news is travelling further and faster than ever before. That's an opportunity and a threat for marketers.So how should marketers react to this ever-changing world where plans can become obsolete in months, weeks or even days? In short, marketers need to become less 'planned' and more 'agile'.But what precisely is agile marketing? For us, there are 4 main themes:Being Responsive to Change Over Following a Strict PlanAgile marketing is about not being tied into long planning cycles but and having the ability to react to short terms events - whether they be internal (like sales) or external (like local, national and even global news).Take the SuperBowl, the biggest televised event in the US.  Big brands take months, and spend thousands, planning their SuperBowl campaigns - perhaps an example of the 'old' approach to marketing.  But many brands created almost as much impact for much less money by their clever reactions to the partial blackout that delayed this year's SuperBowl for 34 minutes.Take Audi's response (see below) - one simple tweet that generated almost 10,000 retweets and over 3,000 favourites.Audi_superbowlOr an example from one of our clients, Pandora, at the Glamour Awards - an event they're headline sponsors of.  Pandora tweeted live from the event about the event itself and all the celebrities in attendance. We promoted those tweets, making sure all promoted tweets for each celebrity appeared to people that were either talking about the Glamour Awards or talking about a particular celebrity that attended - piggy-backing on the event buzz and chatter on Twitter by serving people with highly relevant tweets.Pandora_Promoted_TweetsOf course, our increasingly viral world has its downsides as well as upsides as this ill-informed attempt to capitalise on the Twitter-trending Aurora massacre shows.Celeb_BoutiqueA Desire to Experiment (and Learn from those Experiments)Experimentation is central to agile marketing - trying new things and continually learning from those experiments. It's a mantra we preach here at Cream.Take fashion retailer and Cream client Hobbs.  After our research uncovered a potentially lucrative customer segment the decision was taken to test our theory with marketing activity targeted specifically to that segment, including an in-store event.  The store that hosted the event experienced its highest ever trading day's trading - and that segment is now central to their marketing plans.That experiment was a success but with the agile approach it doesn't matter if it is or it isn't. What's key is the desire to continually try new things, to learn from those experiments, as long as those learnings can inform future activity.Marketing 1-to-1 Whenever the Opportunity Presents ItselfIn this era of Facebook, Twitter and even email, the opportunity for marketers to interact with customers on a 1-to-1 basis has never been greater. The impact of that activity can extend well beyond that individual.An example would be the exchange of letters between Sainsbury's customer Lily Robinson (aged 3 1/2) - who queried why tiger bread was called tiger bread because it looked more like a giraffe - and Sainsbury's Customer Manager, Chris King (aged 27 1/3) who agreed and instigated a change of name to 'giraffe bread'. Both letters went viral - featuring in the Huffington Post and the Sun, the topic trended on Twitter, and when posted on Facebook garnered over 150,000 likes and almost 50,000 shares.Sainsburys_Giraffe_BreadBeing Ruled by Testing and Data Not Conventions or AssumptionsAgile marketing puts much more store by testing, and observing and utilising the learnings from those tests, than lengthy upfront planning.It's an approach we advocate for our clients, particularly with digital campaigns.  Although our planning is meticulous, particularly when it comes to defining how a campaign is going to be measured, we take an agile approach to campaign optimisation. By continuously mining and analysing the response data from campaign launch- including post site visit, if available - we can make real time adjustments to the campaign which optimise the results and maximise the effectiveness of our clients budgets.In short agile marketing is about shorting planning cycles, testing and learning and recognising and seizing opportunities on the fly. It requires an open and collaborative approach between agencies and clients and trust and empowerment to ensure opportunities are capitalised on before they vanish.In practice, a consistently agile approach is not easy to achieve.  But as the pressure increases on marketing budgets, and marketers are ever more closely scrutinised for the results they deliver, we expect many more to try.