Need to Do More with Less? 5 Game-Changing Agile Marketing Strategies

With all the volatility marketers are dealing with these days, it’s never been harder to develop a great marketing strategy and ensure it stays relevant while you execute it. Add to that the increasingly common reality of departments with reduced budgets asking to simply “do more with less” and it’s clear why CMOs are feeling frustrated.

This is the economic reality we face today. However, there are proven marketing strategies which can actually enable your teams to do what’s being asked of them without sacrificing their mental health or work-life balance. Below, we’ll take you through 5 that we’ve seen deliver excellent results in all kinds of marketing teams.

All that said, we’re going to start with some fundamental concepts that experienced marketing leaders will be familiar with, so feel free to skip over those sections if you’re ready to dive straight into the strategic gold.

What Is a Marketing Strategy?

Marketing strategies are broad plans for leveraging a company’s unique value proposition to reach its strategic goals.

Ideally, this will result in an overarching message expressed through a variety of marketing activities like digital ads, emails, and even sales communication. But a great marketing strategy doesn’t just focus on the company side of the equation, it needs to be tailored for the right audience. 

This means that any off the shelf marketing strategy is going to suffer from the fact that it’s not tailored to your specific value proposition, customers, and goals. That’s why the strategies we’re sharing below aren’t full strategies, but ideas that can form the basis of a successful marketing strategy when tailored to your circumstances.

Marketing Strategy vs Marketing Plan

While marketing strategies are long-term and focus on the overall mission a marketing department is aiming to achieve, marketing plans focus on the actual activities marketers will undertake to achieve that mission.

In other words, marketing strategies are more about the “what” while marketing plans focus on the “how.”

Marketing Strategy vs Marketing Plan

For example, your marketing strategy might be to become thought leaders in your space, while your subsequent marketing plans may involve creating podcasts, hosting LinkedIn Lives, or publishing an eBook. Real marketing success requires getting both right, as either a great marketing strategy without great plans or the reverse isn’t going to bring the results you need.

How Do You Create an Effective Marketing Strategy?

Let’s start with a hard truth. Too often, we marketers get caught up in trying the latest thing. That might be advertising on a new platform, experimenting with digital live events, or just jumping into a new strategy shortly after trying the last one.

Chasing effectiveness in what’s new and shiny often leads to us neglecting the real fundamentals of marketing efficiency and cause us to end up stretching limited resources. The balance you need to create is between the strength of the strategy’s long-term vision and the capability to adapt as you go.

Creating a truly effective marketing strategy begins with a solid foundation of the right principles and techniques. No strategy is perfect and you will always face the inevitability of diminishing returns, so effective strategies are always built with an eye on flexibility and adaptability. 

Why Great Marketing Strategies Begin with Prioritization

Perhaps the single problem that holds back most marketing strategies is poor prioritization. That’s why we’re starting with this before we dive into the 5 individual strategies. Even when your marketing strategy produces an excellent list of priorities, without a consistent way to decide when to work on what (and when to finish work in progress instead).

That means a systematic way of determining priorities backed up by a transparent way of sharing that information.

Prioritization is how you ensure you end up with efficient and effective marketing strategies instead of great ideas that go nowhere. It’s no wonder the latest State of Agile Marketing Report found that better prioritization is both the most desired outcome of Agile marketing and the one Agile marketers are most likely to achieve.

Why Great Marketing Strategies Begin with Prioritization

Know What to Stop Doing

Most of us are guilty of focusing on what new things marketing can do to achieve its goal without considering what we should stop doing as well. This is particularly important when budgets are getting cut. That’s when some marketing activities which produce results might still need to get the ax so more resources can go to where they will have the greatest impact.

So when you’re developing a marketing strategy, you need to be all in. If 20% of your resources and attention are still going to something that’s not going to help you achieve your strategic goals, you’re simply going to be less likely to achieve them.

For example, if you’re running a digital ad campaign that’s getting decent results but is totally unrelated to your new strategic objectives, it shouldn’t continue running! Simply put, if that strategic objective isn’t your number one priority then it’s not a real strategic objective.

Gather Data and Use It

Another common mistake we make when creating marketing strategies is neglecting the proper use of data. For example, if our strategic objective is to become a thought leader in a space, how do we know when that’s been achieved? It’s vital that goals be tied to trackable data that can be monitored over time and used to adjust tactics.

In practice, this means beginning with baselines before structuring experiments, tracking, and learning. Data has to be the main driving force behind decision-making both in terms of how you develop your marketing strategy and how you execute it.

All that said, you also need to be wary of vanity metrics. These are numbers which can feel important but are difficult or impossible to translate into actual ROI. For example, likes or comments on social media posts can make us feel like our content is connecting but if they aren’t translating into something concrete like conversions, then they’re only going to lead you in the wrong direction.

Set Clear Goals and Adjust As You Go

Marketing objectives are what enable you to translate marketing strategy into marketing plans. That’s why every effective marketing strategy uses Objective Key Results (OKRs) to keep everyone focused on the goals and metrics that will actually translate into ROI. 

That said, plenty of teams create solid OKRs only to stick to them long after it’s clear they’re not working. It may sound odd at first, but creating OKRs and staying laser-focused on them until they’re either achieved or new information indicates new OKRs are needed is the way to go.

But the question then is: when do you know it’s time for a change? It’s easy to let the sunk cost fallacy trick you into changing far too late. This is why setting a cadence for reviewing OKRs is so useful. When those monthly or quarterly meetings are already in the calendar, it’s easier to take a step back, get out of our own heads, and make an objective decision about whether OKRs need to change.

Communicate Results

We all have the tendency to emphasize our successes and try to forget about our failures. But great marketing strategies are built on past failures just as much as on past successes. Whether a particular marketing plan, or strategy ends up succeeding or failing, it’s vital that we communicate that result and strive to learn from it.

This kind of open communication is also important for building trust and transparency on your teams. It tells your team members that failing is okay as long as you learn from it. The result is teams with greater psychological safety that are more likely to experiment and develop better ways of working. 

In other words, communicating results is how marketing strategies evolve and improve over time.

Celebrate Success

Lastly, while we’ve talked a lot about the importance of data, iterative improvement, etc. you can’t forget to simply celebrate success. We can hardly count the number of times we’ve seen marketing teams that don’t feel like they’re succeeding even when they are because those successes aren’t celebrated.

A marketing strategy that gets celebrated this way will feel like a meaningful achievement for everyone involved, helping inspire and motivate them to achieve the next set of goals.

Before seeing the first steps you can take toward better marketing strategies, why don't you check if bad processes are dragging you down?

Take the First Steps Towards Better Marketing Strategies

By this point you might be wondering what connects all of these marketing strategy elements. The simple answer is agility. Agile marketing ties together systems for creating, iterating, and celebrating more effective marketing strategies while simultaneously making your marketing department a better place to work.

But unlocking all that value begins with fostering effective Agile leadership. If you’re ready to begin your journey to better marketing strategies, we offer self-paced and instructor led courses in Agile Marketing Leadership that will equip you with the fundamentals you need.

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