Agile marketing in the 21st Century

The concept of marketing has changed drastically in the last 20 years, it is no longer simply a matter of creating an effective advertising campaign. While advertising is still important, it is now more than just promotion. Competition has reached a point where marketing has become redefined as the skill of establishing and maintaining a relationship with a customer base.
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Brand loyalty now takes precedence over slick advertising. Communication has replaced the slogan, and addressing customer needs has become more important than a glamorous product image. Globalization has created a situation where every company is now competing with every other organization of its type in the World. And the answer to this problem is agile marketing.

Marketing must now be reconsidered in the light of digital technology and worldwide communication. The very speed with which both positive and negative memes can go viral, means that the carefully orchestrated advertising campaign can become an expensive white elephant very quickly. This is where agile marketing steps in and fills the space left vacant by the increasing unworkability of traditional advertising ideas.

Agile marketing is based on five principles. These are:

1. Responding to change takes precedence over following a plan. While it's all well and good to plan, that plan should be agile enough to quickly respond to changing circumstances.

2. Testing is more important than opinion, no matter how official that opinion might be. The rapid change now prevalent in the business eco system has created a situation where the effectiveness of an advertising campaign cannot easily be determined ahead of time. This can get costly and so it's a good idea to do a lot of testing. While there are still experts who can find hot buttons or write compelling copy, no one is expert enough to guarantee success.

3. Advertising should be based on numerous small experiments rather than a few large bets. It is now economically wise to make numerous small tests of different ideas and approaches before assembling a complete campaign. Even then, that campaign should be released on a small scale first and modified as necessary.

4. Directly addressing the customer is more effective than detached formal market research. Just as agile managers rely on frontline employees to understand what's really going on, so CMO's should have strong lines of communication with customers, to be able to address what customers really need.

5. Companies should be transparent, honest and upfront with their customers. This may seem like a no-brainer, and it's certainly not new. But, in a world where customers can easily switch brands, honesty and transparency are an important part of generating brand loyalty.

Agile marketing is staying abreast of changes in the marketplace and being flexible enough to adapt to those changes. It is putting facts above opinion and validating hypotheses with thorough testing as well as being honest and valuing customers and their input. Combine these elements together and you have the formula for successful marketing in the 21st Century.

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