How Agile Marketing Killed the Annual Marketing Plan

Debbie Williams

Written by Debbie Williams on Thu, May 26, 2016

Times change along with technology. It’s not a new song. After all, “Video Killed the Radio Star” 36 years ago.

To continually stay relevant, this year we made a dramatic shift as an agency, and hired an agile marketing coach. He worked with us to dive into the agile methodology, historically used by software companies, to deliver more efficient, stronger and faster results for our clients.

One of the many benefits we’ve learned about working agile is that detailing out an exact marketing plan, a year in advance, will never be the most successful course of action to meet your goals. And speaking of goals, those can (and should) change throughout the course of a year.

So, how do you create a successful marketing roadmap? Just like Google Maps can show you, in real time, what restaurants are open nearby or notify you of a better, faster route to get to your destination, agile marketing helps you work in “real time” and adapt to current situations to maximize results.

A Change in your Marketing Mindset

Creating an annual marketing plan doesn’t work anymore. Markets, technologies, trends and consumer behaviors change so fast, it’s near impossible to predict what will happen six months down the line. What you thought were your goals and objectives in the fall, may be completely irrelevant by the spring. Working in the “now” helps you stay ahead of the competition, and gives you and your marketing partners the flexibility to adapt and pivot to changes in the market or your stats and analytics.

Agile allows you to work more fluidly, not just on a set list of deliverables that were planned a year ago, but by focusing on what will deliver the most value and the best results the fastest.

New Buyer Behavior = New Marketing Methodology

Today, people look for services on their own timeframe, via the channels that work for them. 3.5 billion Google Searches a day prove that. Agile marketing is an approach that directly aligns with how people buy now, which is also the foundation of inbound marketing.

Just as the agile methodology was developed to improve software development, the same principle can be effectively applied to marketing.

Traditional (marketing) :

Plaaaaaaan Plaaaaaan Plaaaaaaan, and plan some more > Build > Launch

Agile (marketing):

Build > Learn > Iterate (Repeat)

The second model allows you to continually see what is working, and improve upon it for more effective results in less time.

When it comes to inbound marketing, there are still some unknowns, which are almost impossible to predict or plan for a year out. How do you know what topics will resonate the most with your audience six months from now? How do you know if one blog post per week is just as effective as two? What videos will most help your audience make the decision to work with you?  

Instead of guessing what your audience wants and needs, and investing the time and resources to try to plan out the next 365 days, the Agile approach allows you to choose a theme for the month, try a few topics and tactics and see what is most effective. After a few months you’ll have enough data to help you make truly strategic plans for the coming month, and give your audience what they are looking for.

How Working Agile Affects Marketing plans

So, picture this.. It’s Q4 and you’re thinking about your marketing budget and plans for the next year. You work with your marketing team and agency partners to set goals and a projected course of action for meeting those objectives. Sounds ideal right?

By the start of Q2 of the next year, website traffic is down, the development team is talking about new product launches and a few updates to existing products. Meanwhile, the sales team is coming up against the same few challenges and questions from customers and prospects that they need content support for, to better help them sell.  

But, you already have a marketing budget and a plan of action in place, that was approved six months ago. Your budget is set, and your plans were made without any of these unforeseen events. Now what?  How do you change gears and adapt to what is happening now?

Learn about why we transitioned to becoming an agile inbound marketing agency.

Marketers can no longer be afraid of change or veering from a set in stone plan. Agile gives you the power to work in an “inspect and adapt” cycle, responding to actual opportunities that are happening now based on actual data and results. You have to be able to give your customers and prospects what they need now, not what you thought they would need last year.

Ready to work with an agile inbound marketing partner?  

Request a Consultation

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