The Secret to Executing a Successful Agile Marketing Plan

Larger brands wanting to be more agile and flexible can look to small businesses to learn how to execute real-time marketing tactics.

At a time of depleting attention spans and constant distractions thanks to social media and smartphones, business-to-business and business-to-consumer brands have a small window of opportunity to capture a consumer’s or fellow businesses’ attention. Those that are able to implement the most agile real-time marketing strategies will be the brands able to capture market share and, ultimately, sales and loyalty long-term.

An agile marketing campaign is one in which marketers develop branded content in response to real-time events.

During the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, for example, brands like Visa and Procter & Gamble ran ads about the events in Rio de Janeiro, cleverly combining their messaging with the Olympic spirit to resonate with fans around the world. These campaigns captured consumer attention and positively impacted brand reputation.

The best agile marketing strategies are relevant and respond quickly to timely news, leveraging tools like social media and email that allow for fast communication and ultimately engagement.

However, because larger brands often have many hoops to jump through internally, small businesses are often more agile and typically have an easier time navigating these campaigns. Despite the more complex processes, bigger companies can mirror small business’s real-time efforts by:

Responding to events in a timely fashion: The average consumer or business decision maker today has a shorter attention span than a goldfish–or approximately eight seconds. This means that the window of time brands have to effectively engage with a consumer or a business is smaller than ever.

For these larger brands, reaching their audience during this small window is of course easier said than done. It will require a change of company culture and investment in technology that will enable marketing teams to respond to events in a timely manner.

More specifically, big brands must make social media–and the technology to analyze it–a priority. Social media experts are no longer “nice to have.” Brands need to employ teams dedicated to monitoring social media and developing relevant content in response to events in real time. Ultimately, they must be equipped with the tools they need to get the job done quickly.

Using the right data to create layered audiences: It’s difficult to respond to every single piece of news or event quickly in a way that resonates with all audiences. The media landscape is too broad to assume that everyone in your database cares about everything that’s happening.

Here is where companies must develop different personas or audiences using data and pinpoint the top segments that would be most effective to target with a certain message. Instead of wasting time and resources trying to target all groups of customers, you’re casting a wider data-driven net that is more likely to produce a response.

Here is where brands can take advantage of the data resources available to them.

For instance, first-party data, which is the brand’s own data, gives the opportunity to identify best customers. A brand can also look at its transactional data and get insights into the segments that are responsible for the most revenue. For example, an office-supply company might know, based on sales data, that its primary customers are small and midsized businesses in the U.S. But this is not enough.

Brands should also turn to second- and third-party data to construct a more holistic profile of these segments. For instance, that same office-supply company can see that SMB segment’s larger digital footprint to determine that tech companies with fewer than 10 employees within it are most likely to respond to real-time content.

Whatever approach the brand decides to take with its messaging, it must look for datasets that have a strong validation process in place when it comes to second- or third-party data to make sure the insights it does gain are accurate.

Keeping messaging in line with the brand’s core mission: Big brands might try to do too much. It’s important to keep it simple and make sure messaging is consistent with the brand’s core mission. A brand can be agile and respond quickly, but if it’s off message, why bother?

Keep in mind that you’re a brand with an agile marketing strategy, not a news outlet. You do not need to respond to every current event. Focus on those that really can be easily incorporated into your key messaging. If you’re the office-supply company, it might not make sense to incorporate real-time messaging about the Super Bowl. A catering company, however, could promote its services to companies within its target audience about hosting Super Bowl-themed events. Stick to what you know and what will relate back to your key messaging best.

Today’s device-driven world calls for brands to be more spontaneous in their marketing endeavors. Sure, the basics of your marketing strategy can be planned out well in advance, but businesses today must equip themselves with the ability to respond to real-time B2B or B2C events to reach their audience during the small window of time they give you.

Larger companies may face challenges operating in real time, but those that follow in these fundamental steps of smaller businesses will certainly see the benefits.

Amit Khanna is president of small and medium business at analytics and marketing services provider Infogroup.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.