Starting Agile Marketing: Common Roadblocks and How to Overcome Them

By: Katie Hall, Digital Transformation Consultant and Shane Sale, Agile Marketing Consultant

The pace towards Agile Marketing has been quickening for years, but the pandemic fast-tracked it abruptly. 

On the consumer side, customers have fully adopted the convenience of consuming information and making buying decisions on mobile and smart devices. On the brand side, marketers are drowning in data, dealing with the complexities of real-time marketing, and navigating brands through the openness and transparency inherent to social media. 

To stay relevant, marketers must create exceptional, data-driven customer experiences across the board. The good news is, the marketing talent pool has expanded, the marketing mix continues to evolve, and the matrix of marketing technology providers is vastly growing. 

The missing piece to pull it all together is Agile Marketing. 

Why Agile Marketing?

Moving to Agile Marketing for your organisation should be a priority. In order to succeed, leaders must remember that Agile isn’t just about getting things done quickly – it’s equally important to listen to feedback from various sources and adjust accordingly.

All challenges for Agile adoption can be overcome. Understanding the roadblocks that lie ahead and developing strategies to address them will ensure your transition will be smooth. 

Some problems you will typically encounter are:

Fixed Mindset

Many organisations have a traditional hierarchy that can stifle creativity and speed. Agile marketers approach marketing differently. They exhibit “respect, collaboration, improvement and learning cycles, pride in ownership, focus on delivering value, and the ability to adapt to change. This mindset is necessary to cultivate high-performing teams, who in turn deliver amazing value for their customers.”

Resistance To Change

If the current traditional marketing is working okay, then companies will resist the urge to change. It’s comfortable and safe. However, in the long run, resistance to change will cause a company to slide backward rather than staying ahead of the curve.

Applying scrum isn’t an overnight project. It requires serious changes to how the team plans, how they interact with one another and how they think about their work. If your team is ready for something new, they may wholeheartedly embrace scrum. If they’re already overworked and overwhelmed, they may balk at such a big change.

“Lack of training and a feeling that current processes are working “well enough” remain the two most commonly cited barriers to marketing agility.” 

Fear Of Failure

The fear of failure is another hurdle to companies adopting Agile Marketing. Implementing any project takes time and resources, and if it fails, some view the project as a complete waste. 

Agile Marketing actually encourages failure, under the assumption that an organisation can learn as much from its mistakes as its victories. 

General Scepticism

Some marketing teams are just sceptical about Agile Marketing. They may have examined it but don’t see it fitting their organisation. Alternatively, there could be other stakeholders in the company who are sceptical and roadblocking the marketing team from adopting agile marketing.

Embrace change

Applying scrum isn’t an overnight project. It requires serious changes to how the team plans, how they interact with one another and how they think about their work. If your team is ready for something new, they may wholeheartedly embrace scrum. If they’re already overworked and overwhelmed, they may balk at such a big change.

Teams who need protection

If your teams are constantly derailed by last-minute demands or other interruptions from outside of marketing, the protection of a sprint may help them. Being able to put a new request into the backlog for an upcoming iteration is a nice way of saying “no” while still providing good customer service to the person making the request. Of course, this does require a strong marketing owner who’s committed to being a buffer for the team.

Technology Fatigue

Change takes time, money, unwavering executive support, and an internal champion willing to wade through the politics and power struggles required to move the business forward.

Some organisations aren’t ready for the challenge, and will find a shift to Agile Marketing too heavy a lift for their employees. High-performing companies are prepared for perpetual change. They put Agile Marketing teams and business processes in place to scale and adapt as new technologies and opportunities emerge.

Operating in Silos

Internally, your marketing team may be broken up into different silos and separated from other departments in the organisation. Externally however, fans, followers do not differentiate between marketing departments and channels. They may call, complete a web form, or initiate an online chat. At each interaction, their needs and intentions are likely different. They are entering unique stages with your brand, and yet, they expect the customer experience to be consistent.

Marketing must break down its own silos (advertising, communications, content, digital, PR, SEO, social, web).  A successful team will find innovative ways to collaborate with customer service, finance, HR, IT, operations, and sales to drive performance and create consistently remarkable customer experiences.

Lack of talent

When adopting agile, and starting the journey to change the way you approach your marketing strategy, one of the biggest blockers is the lack of talent you will find internally – not many, if any of your colleagues would have been involved in a agile transformation project, most companies will tTry to recruit strong leaders that are forward thinking. Hiring digital-savvy leaders has a great impact. they experienced digital change when new leaders familiar with digital technologies joined the management team.

To advance, you must attract a new breed of marketers, build internal academies to evolve your existing marketing team, and evaluate outsourcing to marketing agencies that bring complementary knowledge and skills to the mix.

Complacency

Ironically, success itself may be one of the largest culprits in creating complacent cultures. Too often, business leaders become comfortable with historical success and lack motivation to change their ways. They assume they can maintain market share, revenue growth, and profits by doing what has always been done.

But digital transformation has the power to upend industries and render market leaders obsolete.. While the effects of complacency may not be obvious in the short term, eventually they could pay the ultimate price.

But how do we overcome these problems?

it’s a matter of culture: “If a company wants to adopt agile, they must build a culture to support the agile principles.” Navigating around some of the softer issues you will face will be easier if the Agile mindset is adopted by everyone.

You will need to go into an Agile transformation with open eyes, fully aware that it’s not going to be all puppies and rainbows.

This agile method doesn’t have rigid deadlines and deliverables. It allows for a more experimental approach where certain projects can be shelved permanently or temporarily and tagged as a ‘learning experience’, instead of an abject failure.

Learning to celebrate success, and learn from failure will help guide you through your Agile journey

Summary:

Modern marketers are continually testing new technologies and strategies. While the likelihood of failure rises, so do the number of real-time learning opportunities. Analytics software gives marketers the insight to know what went wrong and the ability to make adjustments that improve performance.

As conservative organisations sit on the sidelines, modern marketers are capturing market share by changing the way they work, activating marketing automation, and implementing AI programs.

Businesses that are too slow to evolve and too afraid to take chances will lose in the long run. Conservative cultures can be corrected, but this change starts at the top. Leaders must provide the resources and runway to realise what is possible.

The key to success is selecting the Agile Marketing methodologies that limit the amount of hurdles you’ll encounter. Different brands and marketplaces will respond better to different Agile Marketing processes.  Your task, at the first stage, is to find out which one works best for your business. 

For more insights or to discuss how to take your first steps into your Agile marketing journey, get in touch with our CvE expert team.

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