Car rental company Sixt was already carrying out agile marketing a few years ago before the term itself had even been invented: a poster for Merkel’s “Neuland” speech a few days after she gave it, a motif for Ulla Schmidt’s company car used in Spain (“I promise: next time I’ll rent from Sixt”), a spontaneous campaign centering on the discussion about Boateng as a neighbor (“For everyone with someone like ‘Gauland’ in the neighborhood”, with a picture of a removal van).
In many situations Sixt has relied on clever newsjacking, with spontaneous campaigns and motifs within days or even only hours, to show what is special about agile marketing: the buzz word means flexible marketing communication that aims to make the marketing model more flexible and divides a marketing goal into many small stages that are brought to life by incorporating current elements. This should make marketing more adaptable to short-term changes and current events, “so that it is possible to react immediately to internal or external influences at certain points and to decide on further progress,” as the German Institute of Marketing sums it up.
So marketers are not relying on rigid models like the waterfall model as in the past, but on workflow models known from production like Scrum and Kanban. These are not only suitable for physical production processes, but also when it comes to applying intellectual resources in a targeted and optimally distributed way.
Spontaneous marketing provides the basis for lively discussions and draws attention
An example that comes to mind in connection with agile marketing, because it could only arise from the situation, takes us back to the 2013 Super Bowl final. There was a power outage, which led to a thirty-minute interruption of the game. This was of course a unique situation that could not have been foreseen and for which it was difficult to prepare, even with the best of intentions.
The cookie manufacturer Oreo reacted via social media with a spontaneous post that went around the world: “You can still dunk in the dark”, which refers to both dunking cookies and dunking in basketball. Everyone was talking about the tweet the next day, even people who didn’t care about the Super Bowl. And there is much to suggest that, because of its spontaneity, the post was more successful than much that the company could have achieved with traditional project management and a high media budget.
Social media platforms have been increasingly acting as a catalyst for agile marketing in recent years. They generate special hashtags, terms and topics, usually resulting from current events, which can be taken up and further tweaked in the context of marketing. Facebook, Instagram, etc. are ideal for creating an enormous reach within a very short space of time with original ideas – positive, but also negative. Agile marketing is often flanked by targeted Google Adwords campaigns or other SEA measures.
Agile marketing is characterized above all by the fact that it comprises rapidly successive marketing measures that can be adapted step by step in the course of the marketing process. Agile marketing is an excellent match for online marketing, because the speed here is often higher than in other marketing disciplines. Added to this is the dialog focus of the online media, where the combination of action and reaction is more likely than in other environments.
How to establish agile elements in your marketing environment
As our examples show, agile marketing not only works in small start-ups, but can also be used in larger companies and in more traditional industries such as FMCG or automotive. Even relatively conservative companies such as Berlin transport operator BVG prove time and again in their marketing that agility can also work here – and is well received by customers.
But agility requires a radical and sustainable change of thinking by companies. All those involved in marketing and communication must be enabled to act quickly and without long decision-making channels – and to achieve results that do justice to the core of the brand. At the same time it must be possible to make minor mistakes – because more or less severe failures are all part of agile marketing. You must only make sure that the same mistakes do not happen more than once.