‘Agility’- the word is used so commonly across corporate boardrooms today. Agility is about a company’s ability to renew itself, adapt to change and evolve quickly, so as to succeed in rapidly changing, unpredictable or turbulent environment. It is an organisation’s ability to adapt quickly to a dynamic market set up- both internally as well as externally. It refers to an organisation’s capability to respond flexibly and rapidly to evolving customer demands.
Off late, there has been a lot of buzz around the need to be nimble and agile, if companies need to grow and build sustainable businesses. The concept has become even more relevant with the Covid 19 pandemic impacting billions across the world and forcing businesses to slow down, cease operations or pivot.
Agile marketing in the Covid times
Covid 19 has been a disruptive moment of sorts that has totally transformed the way businesses operate. It has brought about a huge shift in the way multiple departments in an organisation work, including marketing. It has brought about a ‘total reset’.
The pandemic has ensured that agility is not a good-to-have but a must-do for organisations, irrespective of their industry or size. Companies that do not adopt agility risk becoming obsolete. One of the classic examples of agility is the way companies adopted remote working and have been able to ensure that it is business as usual, over the last few months.
Key requirements for agility
Agility is not something that can be acquired in a day. It is the result of a continuous and consistent effort over a period of time. It requires what is called a mindset shift as individuals who have been programmed to operate in a specific regimented manner may not be able to make the dash to a totally decentralised and evolving setup.
If you would like to build an agile work culture, there are some key requirements from a company’s DNA standpoint. Dynamic capability is the key. Companies need to have the ability to ensure speed to market, nimbleness and responsiveness. Also, being agile implies that companies should be open to experimentation, learning from failures and improvising their strategy. In such setups, failures are not a taboo. Instead, they are well celebrated.
Tips for agile marketing
The pandemic has changed the world around us. Marketing teams across organisations have been left with no choice but to go back to the drawing board and revisit their strategies. There are a lot of benefits of agility when adopted in marketing strategy. It not only helps to enhance productivity, but also powers the company to better handle external disruptive scenarios like recession or a pandemic like Covid 19.
Some of the key tips for agile marketing include:
Collaboration is the key. In fluid or fast evolving environments which are common in today’s times, it is advisable to collaborate and work across teams and functions. A diverse team that cuts across departments works better than a team working in silos. Collaboration works well as it helps to better identify the customer needs, understand the market set up, get an understanding of the company’s capabilities and differentiators, and create cutting-edge solutions
Focus on becoming more adaptable
Agility is not synonymous to being rigid. Instead, it is about being adaptable, breaking the barriers and evolving as the situation demands. It is also about speed to market, but not about unnecessary long hours every day. Agility is about accepting mistakes or the need for change, being willing to change, and also ensuring that the change is done in the shortest possible time.
Customer is the key
It is important to focus on the customer but not just for the sake of it. Customer focus should be more than a happy talk. It should be more genuine and believable. This has become even more critical in the recent times, as customers have become choosy about the brands they want to be associated with. The 36,000 feet, high-level positioning is done and dusted.
Interestingly, the shift to customer focus can have profound impact on the success of a business. According to a study by Forrester Research, highly customer-focused companies achieved CAGR that were 7-30 percentage points higher than industry peers who were less focussed on their customers.
In order to ensure success with this strategy, it is important to meet the customers and get a sense of what is working well and what needs to be improved. It is also required to have an in-depth understanding of user personas and customer journeys.
Continuous improvement works better
Agility is not about focussing on a specific campaign. Instead, it has to do with continuous improvement. It requires a major shift in mindset from that of “We cannot put anything out to the customers until it’s perfect” to “Let’s get something out there, even if it’s not the perfect one, to test the customer reaction and get to market sooner.”
Campaigns led approach is very fragmented and short-sighted. It is about focussing on one campaign, evaluating success and then moving on. On the other hand, continuous improvement is about building a culture around data-driven decision making. In this case, it is okay to evaluate the success or failure of an idea and improvise as need be.
Decentralised decision making
Agility can only succeed with flexibility and less control and hence, decentralised decision making can make a huge difference. When there is one single decision maker at the top, it reflects a culture of lack of trust and hinders accountability. It leads low productivity as the team is demotivated to deliver its best.
Instead, decentralised decision making ensures a more engaged team. The accountability is high across levels and the productivity is also enhanced. Also, decentralisation speeds up the decision making process and also, at times, results in better decision making. Additionally, it allows the Management to focus on more strategic decision making.
Agility is the need of the hour and will continue to be important for businesses, even post the pandemic. The key reason for that is that the customers are now an evolved and informed lot. They have access to a lot of information in today’s era. Agility can give companies the edge over competitors and also ensure that they are not putting their eggs in one basket. It also will help companies to be better prepared for any crisis or an unprecedented situation. This is because agile marketing will ensure that teams break their projects to smaller and more actionable sprints that are easier to implement and measure. Also, it helps drive higher collaboration and productivity.
The future belongs to those who can harness the power of agility!
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