marketing agilityIs Marketing Agility really the “X-factor” it is made out to be, or are we just being confronted with yet another buzz word? Marketing Agility is not a new term, and when you look for insight from the industry, Marketo’s Jep Castelein summed it up beautifully a year ago by defining marketing agility as: “The ability to optimize marketing activities based on changes in customer preferences and behavior.” He suggests three key steps to making marketing more agile:

  1. A single view of the customer or prospect.
  2. Ability to act upon customer insights.
  3. Automation of this process.

In a recent online discussion we decided to explore what’s giving traction to the phrase Marketing Agility:

What is Marketing Agility?

  • It exists when a company is nimble and able to respond quickly and decisively to market or customer opportunities. It’s an effective balance of fact-based decision-making and decisiveness despite ambiguity. Marketing agility and enterprise agility are practically synonymous; they can’t be viewed in silos [@GaryMKatz]
  • Marketing agility is like having your radar set on opportunities and threats. It’s short on red tape and long-termplans, and long on listening to the marketplace and action. Marketing agility can actually help address unpredictability by living in the moment and being alert to changes.Another trait of marketing agility: iterative planning. Adapt as the project unfolds by changing your plans [@MaryAnn Long]
  • It’s the ability to adapt/change to market, customer, and competitive signals. Turning that info into actionable insight. It takes information, data and insights, and keeping a pulse on the market, customers, competitors, etc [@LauraVEM]
  • It’s the ability to shift your marketing strategy based on internal and external factors [@HREichler]
  • It’s strategically opportunistic – quick response but within boundaries of a holistic plan

Agile Marketing Versus Marketing Agility

  • Agile Marketing is a value system, whereas Marketing Agility is a manifestation of that value system. An agile software development manifesto fits nicely into Marketing Operations. Agile Marketing is defined as the ability to adapt to marketing activities quickly, including customer behaviour, market conditions and business directional changes. Agile Declaration of Independence is a great fit for Marketing Operations, too [@GaryMKatz]
  • Agile marketing is a formal approach with methods adapted from software development and manufacturing manifesto [@MaryAnn Long]
  • Some people think that agile marketing is about the technology/infrastructure to enable marketing ability [@LauraVEM]
  • And that depends on how it is defined – if agile is viewed as a theory or mindset, rather than single methodologies, then they are the same. The desired outcome of either Agile Marketing or Marketing Agility is to improve performance of the organization
  • Agile Marketing is the process, where Marketing Agility is the ability to make that happen [@HREichler]

Yet why should we care? Paul Duna, CMO of Networked Insights, explains the value of marketing agility in his blog: “Better data can lead to better decisions and, ultimately, better outcomes.”

Peter Weill, director of the Center for Information Systems Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), explains: “When I was a kid, the most successful companies were monopolies or duopolies, but in today’s globalized, free-market environment, the ability to satisfy customer expectations is core to pro ability. If you’re not agile, you can’t do it, because customer expectations are never static.”

Keep up with the discussion by joining the Marketing Operations Maturity group on LinkedIn.