Agile Marketing for Your Technology Startup Company

Recently a question from a client made me reflect on how should a marketing department operate especially if you are a one man team or if you are engaged with a startup CEO/Founder, where change is the new constant. How can a CMO or a marketing manager work and plan a B2B content marketing strategy?

Last week I had a great conversation with a technology B2B CMO, and her Marketing Manager, one of the questions asked was the following:

"Saher, I can see that your company has been working with big enterprise technology and SaaS providers. We have a different culture and marketing needs as a technology startup company stepping into year four of operation. We are growing 2X year over year and we would like to see our marketing team executing on a different level. How can we structure our model differently to achieve the business outcome required?"

As an executive who decided to leave a multi-billion dollar technology company and help B2B organization in Canada and the USA redefine their marketing strategy, that was a big struggle for me and my team as well. But after working through different models and frameworks, I can tell you that being agile is the future to everything you do. Whether you are a traditional technology company selling hardware, software and consulting services and growing 25-50% year over year. Or if you are a growth company, (i.e modern Service providers, focus on SaaS platforms, IOT, A.I, Machine learning, Blockchain and other explosive technology disruptor models) and planning to grow by two to seven times your top line revenue. Agile should be a process that needs to be discovered in your marketing department.

But, we've all heard about agile marketing before so what do I really mean here?

Here are six immediate values that agile behavior brings to your marketing department:

1) Responding to change over following a plan. It is not that we do not plan. It is just that we do not write 30-40 page marketing plans anymore. Instead, every quarter, we write a one-page plan that specifies our goals, our aspirations to get everybody on the same page, and then every two to four weeks, we reset our priorities. We say, “This is what we are going to get done during this two- to four-week period.” For some of you who have a technical background, you might call these 'sprint-runs'. Scrum meetings are very critical to your marketing department not only to your development team.

2) Move-over “big bang” campaigns. In traditional marketing, we get together in a room, and we say, "We are going to run a campaign for three to six months to a year." We hash out the idea of what we are going to do for that campaign. Well, we take a very different approach to agile marketing. We take an iterative approach. We start out with a little strategy. We meet for half an hour or an hour to figure out what do we think might work. Then we figure out how to test it. We measure the results, and this is very important, we document the learning. If something does not work, we test it out, and it does not work, it is okay because we have learned something. We have learned what doesn't work. So then we iterate again, and we try something else, and we do that, we get that cycle going in a very effective way.

3) Testing and data over opinions and conventions. Here, again, the importance is that we are not following the highest-paid person's opinion. No Hippos. It is all about: "Did we test it? Do we have data? Do we have the right metrics?" It is important to select the right metrics and not vanity metrics, which makes us feel good but doesn't really result in an improvement in the business.

4) Many small experiments over a few big bets. We follow the 70:20:10 rule. The idea behind the 70:20:10 rule is that we spend 70% of the marketing budget and 50% of our time on the things that we know that work. We do it broadly across all our audiences.
We then spend 20% of our budget and 25% of our time modifying the things that we know that work and trying to improve them. Maybe we distribute it in a little different way, or we modify the content, we modify what the page looks like. However, anyways, we are trying to improve that content.
And the last 10% of our budget and 25% of our time, we spend on wild ideas, things where we fully expect that only about 2 or 3 out of 10 ideas is really going to work, and we focus those things on those creative, wild ideas that are going to be the future 70% and 20%.

5) Individuals and interactions over one-size-fits-all, Now, I like to think about this regarding one of the experiences that I have with SEO. I get many requests for link building, and a lot of the requests that I get are form requests. They write me a little message that they are writing to hundreds of other people, and I do not pay any attention to those requests. Agile Marketing is very personalized and to the persona that we will be building either for or

6) Alignment between Sales and Marketing, different silos of the organization do not seem to talk to each other. Maybe marketing is not talking to sales, or marketing has not got the ear of senior management.I know you do not have this problem in your organization, but this is one of the benefits that Agile marketing brings to the table as well.

Thank you again for reading my blogs, I truly appreciate all the comments and the feedback that I have been getting.