These days businesses need to be able to adapt at a moment’s notice. The internet has given us round-the-clock coverage, instant updates and regular access to all the latest news; it’s no surprise consumers expect brands to keep their output contemporary.
Marketing campaigns need to maintain a liquidity, adapting to the changing needs of the consumer while staying relevant in a dynamic environment. So, by all means, lay out your strategy, but don’t try to carve each day in stone. Businesses capable of responding to changes around them are more likely to entice a new audience, and thus increase their overall reach. Brands that rigidly adhere to their pre-planned marketing strategy with no wiggle-room for new developments, on the other hand, will find their campaigns lagging behind competitors as they struggle to stay in the spotlight. So, just how do you integrate agile marketing into your campaigns, and why do so many marketers struggle to keep pace?
Incorporate client feedback into your campaigns
The growth in social media and corporate responsibility has disrupted the traditional flow of marketing, adding a new dimension to the way content is distributed and consumed by audiences. Today, customers can give feedback directly to companies in full view of their peers. Marketers have to engage with this feedback to prove they are receptive to change and that they really listen to their audience. But some marketers have gone one step further, integrating the customer comments into their campaigns and even building marketing campaigns around feedback alone.
Responding to your consumers is essential to prove you recognise your client-base as individuals, but it also lends a human element to corporations. Just check out the exchange below to see how a humorous response can earn you major social props.
Don’t be afraid to engage with other brands
Agile marketing doesn’t just mean engaging with smartasses online, it also requires you engage with other brands when and where it’s relevant. The more witty, elaborate and/or memorable the exchange, the better the audience response and exposure. After popular male perfumery, Old Spice tried to take a bizarre swipe at Taco Bell on Twitter, Taco Bell responded with a concise but scathing putdown.
Although the banter between brands is usually lighthearted in nature, the competitive ribbing can give both brands a major boost and entice new customers. Honda tried to drum up interest in its new minivan with a playful Twitter campaign involving foodstuffs likely to be sucked up by the minivan’s built-in vacuum cleaner, but Oreos responded with some clever agile marketing of its own. The best thing about this approach is these social media ‘spats’ rarely have a winner. Providing the exchange is entertaining enough, both parties will be rewarded with increased media and consumer attention.
Make sure it’s relevant to your customer base
Before getting too excited about the prospect of igniting a Twitter ‘feud’ that spreads like wildfire across the digital landscape, it’s important to consider your core brand values, and how well these would be reflected in your choice of subject matter and any other key actors involved. Agile marketing requires a deep understanding of your brand’s perception in the wider world, and poorly judged social marketing can severely damage your brand image.
When the cooking site Epicurious decided to tie their latest recipe (whole-grain cranberry scones if you were wondering) to the Boston Marathon bombing, it highlighted exactly why marketers need to stop and consider timing and tone before trying to engage with a consumer-base. Newsjacking (attaching your brand to a trending topic, such as by adopting a popular hashtag on Twitter) can very easily go wrong, as evidenced in the Tweet below.
Integrate your campaign with topical news
Agile marketing relies on an ability to pivot your strategy according to new developments, both internal and external. For planned events such as the 2016 Olympics in Rio, marketers can prepare their material early and consider each new deployment of content. But agile marketing is all about responding to the unscheduled, going off-script and creating a unique reaction to a particular situation. Culturally significant events are a great opportunity for marketers, but often the best replies come from situations that couldn’t be anticipated.
During the 2016 Euro football, supermarket chain Iceland jumped on the unexpected success of the Iceland international squad with some brilliantly timed Tweets. When Iceland (the country) were drawn against England in the quarterfinals, Iceland (the supermarket) stepped up their social campaign and earned themselves thousands of more Likes, Retweets and Followers.
Allow testing and data to take precedent
Agile marketing has existed in some form for several years, but it’s only since the proliferation of data harvesting tools and personalisation platforms that it has been able to be truly agile. Adapting your marketing strategy relies on understanding your competitors, the context in which your campaigns are implemented and the personal preferences of your clients. Marketing attribution has made meeting the latter requirement decidedly easier.
Through monitoring how clients interact with your content, you can adjust your approach according to their personal preferences and ensure your material reaches them through the most effective channels. Agile marketing, by its very nature, is unpredictable, but data gives you the confidence to engage with consumers with a more informed, personalised approach. As your campaign progresses, you can develop a stronger understanding of the most effective content for each consumer and begin to introduce incremental, data-driven changes to your strategy.
Be mindful who you align with your brand
As we said earlier, the topical news is a great platform for getting your brand out there, but this doesn’t mean you should jump on every news story going. It’s important to consider if your brand has any place in tying its name to a popular news piece, particularly if it’s on a subject with no relation to the brand’s purpose, or a sensitive subject that may deem any attempts at brand association as exploiting a painful situation for your own gain. Likewise, as a marketer you have to ensure your brand is associated with people appropriate to your brand message.
This becomes more challenging when agile marketing is involved, but even when a quick decision is needed on a potential brand association, it pays dividends to research the other party and make sure they fit with your core values. When renowned road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong was stripped of his titles following a doping scandal, brands had to move quickly to disassociate themselves from him, and other brands quickly reconsidered sponsoring him for future events.