How agile is your marketing strategy?
Hmmm, putting you on the spot with this one, are we?
If this is a question you have never asked yourself before, you are not alone. The term “agility” is not generally at the top of the agenda when marketing teams sit down to meet. But we are here to explain why your marketing plan should, in fact, be agile. We will also provide you with information on how to incorporate agility into your existing brand strategy, as well as highlight key benefits of doing so.
Why do marketing strategies need to be agile?
When we talk about agility, we are referring to the adaptability and responsiveness of your marketing activities, content and execution infrastructure. Historically, agility was not a significant factor as marketing was predominantly done using traditional media and methods. This typically entailed one-way communication sent from brand to audience, and content was generally passively consumed.
However, in the current business landscape, being agile is of paramount importance. Consumer use of digital methods – social media in particular – is ever increasing. This means that customer commentary (both positive and negative) is mass and even globally communicated in an instant.
But what does this have to do with your brand?
Well, if you do not have the ability to react or respond at the same speed and with the same level of reach as the general public, you are at a serious disadvantage. Whether in reply to customer demands, taking advantage of a market opportunity, or damage control in terms of negative publicity, agility is required. In fact, in serious cases, being agile could even mean averting potential legal action.
Ok so now that we have emphasised the importance of agility, how do you get your marketing activities to meet these criteria?
The key is to use the very same platform that consumers do – namely social media. And doing so does not mean you have to throw out your current marketing plan. While social media can be used as your sole marketing medium, you can also incorporate it into your existing strategy as part of an integrated solution.
Social Media as an Agile Solution
While plans and objectives differ from business to business, certain key aspects should underpin all agile strategies. Including these factors not only improves marketing activities, but positively impacts the brand as a whole.
Below is a list of a few core features that are characteristic of an agile approach. We explain the importance of each element and demonstrate how social media is ideally suited to support it:
A fundamental factor of agility is the ability to adapt. The need to adapt could arise due to changing organisational, consumer or industry requirements. Such changes may range from relatively small adjustments (like correcting a minor error), to major amendments – such as alternate messaging due to a serious matter (e.g. due to public concern or negative feedback).
Social media marketing, by nature, is highly adaptable. Strategies, while planned and structured, are not set in stone. Instead, messaging is flexible and can be adapted to suit changing needs as they arise. As content is digital-based, changes can be done at little or no cost. This is in contrast with traditional alternatives such as printed promotional material, which incur high costs and wastage if content needs to be adjusted.
The level of control offered by social media is not just limited to content, targeting can also be adjusted. For example, when it comes to Facebook, you are able to change the audience target criteria while a campaign is ongoing. This allows you to speak to different demographics and monitor the results.
Brands need to be responsive to consumers at all times. Although general queries form part of customer service, marketing activities also need to be client-centric. This means developing content in response to preferences and needs as communicated by clients.
The interactive nature of social media supports this function excellently. Client engagement behaviour such as comments, shares and likes indicate how the audience receives each post. By using this insight, the marketing team is able to post more of what the audience wants, thus increasing customer satisfaction. Also, poor engagement rates or negative feedback on certain posts indicate that such content should not be repeated, or there needs to be an alternate approach by marketers.
In the unfortunate and undesirable situation of public backlash or outcry as a result of brand communication, the brand needs to respond quickly and in a manner that diffuses the situation (as opposed to leading to further criticism). It is important to craft the correct response before publishing it – if needed, legal or public relations experts should be consulted.
Rapid Turn-Around Time
Responsiveness and adaptability are only efficient if done with relatively speed. In order to be agile, marketing activities need to have a quick turn-around time.
In comparison to other marketing methods, social media has one of the fastest turn-around times. You can eliminate certain components such as third-party printing companies, or publisher/broadcaster timelines. Posting a message, removing a post or amending an existing one can be done quite quickly when the need arises. As mentioned above, in the case of a sensitive issue or public matter, do not compromise quality for speed of response – always ensure that the best possible response is delivered.
A rapid turn-around time is also especially valuable when it comes to maximising market opportunities. For example, let’s say an area is hit by a sudden hailstorm. A vehicle bodyshop/panelbeater could send out a post that targets people from that area – possibly offering a booking special. This is an example of using agility to make the most of an opportunity through social media.
Agile marketing techniques prioritise factual data as opposed to estimations and assumptions. Most traditional marketing options do not provide accurate statistical information, nor do they support cost-effective market testing.
Social media platforms, on the other hand, offer a wealth of accurate data metrics. This includes not only information on market and consumer behaviour, but also the results of each marketing activity. You are able to run A/B testing via the platform in order to improve future results. Effective use of measurement and reporting tools means that you are able to constantly improve the success rates of marketing activities. Thus not only do you get a higher return on marketing investment, but you also use your marketing budget efficiently.
Goals of agile marketing strategies include a high level of responsiveness in terms of both rate and speed, being adaptable to changing internal or external needs, having a rapid turn-around time and achieving higher success rates when it comes to marketing activities. The technique of crafting content based on audience response is likely to improve customer sentiment, promote brand loyalty and even lead to word-of-mouth marketing.
Social media platforms have the capability to support all these requirements and much, much more. Be proactive and incorporate agility into your brand’s marketing plan – preparation and planning are key to successfully navigating through what may lie in the future.
For more on developing an agile marketing strategy, CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.
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