【Marketing 5.0】What is Agile Marketing?

Software engineer observing software development processes on a blackboard

In the era of “Marketing 5.0 / Philip Kotler”, it is important to be able to execute marketing operations as rapidly as possible. The term “agile marketing” is often seen in books and on websites. However, many people are unable to explain what it means, and in some cases, people think they are practicing it based on vague interpretations. In this article, we would like to deepen our understanding of agile marketing.

What is “Agile” in Agile Marketing?

Agile is an English word meaning “quick, prompt, or fast-turning”. In Japan, it became well known with the publication of “The Lean Startup” in 2012 and is now used in various settings including agile organization, agile management, and agile development, in addition to agile marketing.

Agile was originally used in software development to describe “a state of being able to adapt to the environment and reduce uncertainty most efficiently”. The uncertainty here refers to the future, other people, and the external environment. The Agile philosophy is that “we cannot rule out the possibility that things may not go as planned due to uncertainty, but let’s make things happen while minimizing uncertainty”.

Agile development does not try to provide a highly finished product at once. Instead, Agile development starts with a small product and then improves it in response to customer reactions. By repeating this process quickly, it is possible to develop products that meet actual customer needs.

What is Agile Marketing

Agile Marketing is the application of the above-mentioned Agile philosophy to marketing. In recent years, advances in technology and the diversification of channels have made data-driven marketing possible, but at the same time, the marketing environment has become increasingly uncertain. New technologies are constantly being created and updated, and customer needs are changing more easily. If you continue to do business in a waterfall style, where you spend a lot of time and money to conduct market research and define requirements, and then perform operations one at a time, you are likely to find yourself in a situation where it is difficult to correct course because it has been so long since you first started.

In response to these changes, agile marketing is attracting attention in the marketing world as well: “First, actually release the product to the world and capture customer reactions, and then tune the product through repeated analysis and testing. Marketing is changing to an empiricist approach as real-time data can now be obtained. What is required of marketing in the future is an attitude of continuing to provide value to customers while adapting to changes through repeated small-scale PDCA cycles, based on data-driven marketing.

This is also the reason why various businesses have shifted from selling large version upgrades in the packaged model to the subscription model, with frequent product updates.

5 Key Points of Agile Marketing

We have organized five key points to realize and succeed in agile marketing. The world is constantly changing. If you demand too much perfection, you will never be able to provide value to your customers. No person or task is perfect, and the important thing is not to create something perfect but to deliver value to the customer as quickly as possible. To achieve this, the essence of agile marketing is to accept less-than-perfect things, and then continue to work to create the best possible product.

Customer First

Deliver more value to customers quickly
Even the best products and services have value only when they are sought after by customers. To continue to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers, we must change our business and organizational structure to be more customer-centric. We will focus on selecting what needs to be done and promoting it based on “what customers need,” rather than on the business or organization itself.

Iterate with an emphasis on rapid experimentation and real-time analytics

By actually doing it, we can see real customer reactions. Based on the data, we analyze the results, make improvements, and try again. It is not necessary to complete the process all at once; it is important to iterate this process quickly to get closer to the customer’s ideal.

Breaking away from traditional organizational structures

Create small cross-sectional organizations and emphasize interaction within the team
In a vertically organized hierarchical structure, the most important customers are nowhere to be found, and even if the company catches new information and changes, those cannot be applied to those customers. A flexible organizational structure that allows for small projects is essential for agile marketing. It is also important for teams to meet and discuss on a daily basis.

Flexible platforms and process management

Ideally, the platform should be able to accommodate new products and services by adding change elements. It should also be flexible enough to start the next process even if the previous one has not been completed.

Incorporation of open innovation

Let’s take improvement proposals and new ideas not only from within the company but also from the outside if necessary.