Agile Methods for Marketing

Agile development practices have become mainstream as large and small organizations recognize Agile development’s superiority over other approaches for most projects. Organizations that follow the Agile method for development can produce real business value continuously. But, how do you deliver that value to your users?

Typical marketing departments will run large campaigns, sometimes synchronized with big industry events, sometimes with big launch events for important product releases. This is all in stark contrast to the development organization. If the developers added capability X to the product, why wait several months and deliver it to the users with capabilities Y and Z together. Yes, it makes for a more impressive presentation when you show X, Y and Z. But, you actually left value on the table by not delivering X when it was ready.

Agile marketing is all about being in tune with the development organization and also the market. Some of the values of Agile marketing are:

  • Big plans are eschewed in favor of responding to changes
  • Many small experiments over a few large bets
  • Discovery over prediction
  • Adaptive and iterative campaigns over big-bang campaigns

There are many benefits to this approach since the marketing organization is in tune with both the customers and the development organization. This allows communicating changes or better understanding of user needs to the developers in a continuous fashion (build the right thing). The users in turn are delighted because their wishes and requests are getting satisfied much more quickly.

The lack of big announcements about upcoming future products and capabilities takes away the risk of committing early to something that is not well understood or possible given current technology. As a result, users will not be disappointed when you fail to make good on your promises. This goes against the grain of the “establishment” but if you work in an organization that follows Agile development practices, consider pushing towards more Agile marketing as well. Take advantage of the great synergy that can exist between the various groups of your organization.

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