Marketing agility: It’s a phrase every modern marketer knows. But questions still remain.

What exactly does agility mean? Is it just a passing trend? How agile do marketers really need to be to ensure their success?

In a recent study jointly conducted by Forbes and Aprimo, global marketing leaders were asked these same questions. Their answers? Marketing agility means being able to quickly and effectively respond to customers’ individual needs at the right time via the right channel.

And as the marketing landscape continues to grow in complexity, it’s clear that marketing agility is more important than ever – and will only continue to become more of a necessity as customers continue to take control of their brand experiences.

Marketing agility means being able to quickly and effectively respond to customers’ individual needs at the right time via the right channel.Click To Tweet

Those surveyed shared their marketing agility insights – including what they’re doing to improve their organizational agility.

First and foremost, they indicated a need to ready the entire organization for the fundamental change becoming more agile requires. They shared the importance of having the leadership team fully aligned with an agile approach, making sure both in concept and in practice that executives are ready and willing to set the strategy up front… and then allow activities and programs to flex and adjust in response to market conditions and results.

Agile marketing is, in fact, a comprehensive organizational change. It’s about how the organization thinks, feels, and acts in regard to funding and defunding marketing initiatives.

Everyone in the organization – beginning with the executive team – must understand how marketing is going to be measured and proven to key stakeholders. It’s vital to establish an up-front strategy and to execute patience when measurement occurs. A strategic measure framework aligns both the leadership team and team members to the common KPIs to effectively become agile.

Additionally, marketing leaders cited the following five ways their organizations intend to ready themselves to become more agile:

  1. 41% are focused on planning and spending
  2. 41% are hiring new talent
  3. 32% are looking at marketing productivity
  4. 32% are curating content
  5. 31% are ensuring quality and effectiveness

Considering a hybrid approach to planning and spending (41%)

The agile approach to marketing is about responding to change more than about following a plan. In agile marketing, planning is shortened from months/years to weeks/days, which requires a more iterative and responsive approach. The most successful modern marketers are considering a hybrid approach – a combination of traditional and agile marketing – where strategies and KPIs are established up-front, but flexibility is built in so marketing leaders can make adjustments based on real-time results.

Hiring new talent, and building the best team (41%)

The best marketing leaders not only determine what resources they need right now, but they also anticipate future needs. They know what the organization needs so they can get the right job descriptions into the market, but they also give current and future employees the right place to land – complete with the right culture, the right processes, and the right atmosphere. Employees are enabled to ramp up faster so they can contribute immediately.

Having defined processes in a system of record or a knowledge base gives new employees the visibility they need to understand their role and contribute to the outcome. Employer/employee relationships – now more than ever – are focused on creating a win-win. That includes building teams that include remote employees and contractors/agencies, individual flexibility, tight connections, superior collaborations, and increased visibility.

The best marketing leaders not only determine what resources they need right now, but they also anticipate future needs.Click To Tweet

Increasing marketing productivity (32%)

To get the right campaigns into market at the right time, marketers surveyed are focusing on increasing agility, velocity, and quality of content output. But establishing a streamlined process in an ever-changing creative environment is easier said than done. By aligning goals with corporate objectives, marketing leaders are establishing processes that are both efficient and transparent.

Curating meaningful, personalized, and timely content (32%)

Today’s marketing leaders are hyper-focusing on specific customer wants, needs, and expectations… and delivering quality content at just the right time. To make that happen, marketers know their customers well, are equipped to deliver desired content through any channel, and are flexible enough to change marketing content to meet changing customer demands… just-in-time, every time.

Ensuring quality and effectiveness (31%)

One of many measures of marketing quality is compliance – from adherence to brand guidelines to compliance with regulatory agencies. Marketers know they need to ensure the right approvals and reviews are in place – and provide a pure auditing history – so they can be confident in their output. Contrary to popular belief, compliance and agility are not mutually exclusive. By automating – and thereby accelerating – the review and approval process, organizations are enabled to be compliant while simultaneously keeping projects on track… and ultimately getting the right content to market at the right time.

Preparing the overall organization to embrace the fundamental change required to become more agile is the first – and arguably, most important – step to increasing and executing marketing agility. But marketing leaders are then focusing on acquiring the resources and technology that enable them to streamline their processes, tighten their planning and spending approach, anticipate staffing needs, increase marketing productivity, create meaningful content, and ensure quality and compliance for maximum marketing output.

About the Author: Michael Lummus is senior director, product marketing and strategy at Aprimo, a provider of marketing operations management software that enables marketers to manage the five essentials of marketing: planning, spending, creation, distribution and performance. Michael has domain expertise in marketing and software, and functional expertise in strategy, product management, M&A, marketing and executive general management.