Regardless of size, businesses must embrace agile marketing strategies to best serve the needs of their current and future customers.

In today's marketplace, we are constantly challenged with how to keep up with rapid change. Technology, business models and buyers shift at the speed of light. Today's savvy marketers are moving away from a fixed or linear approach to executing marketing strategy, which often takes an organization too long to react to market changes, and embracing an agile philosophy and framework. Using software development as a model, the new thinking is to break up major initiatives into smaller, manageable chunks of work. Focusing on the pieces of the pie versus the whole allows businesses to alter the development cycle more quickly in response to marketplace changes.

Specifically, this approach allows for shorter launch timelines and quicker adjustments to problem areas or underperforming campaigns. As your business grows and new opportunities arise, being agile enables you to seize the moment and better serve your customers. You no longer have to wait until the end of a campaign to understand its effects because you have access to data in real-time and can make modifications instantly. By attacking initiatives in smaller pieces, you also ensure that your dollars are being spent more efficiently.

Though startups have an innate advantage in this area, and larger companies have been slower to adapt to this nimble model, I was inspired by a recent conversation with Kim Feil, CMO of mega-brand OfficeMax, because their story is an anomaly for most large companies. The big-box retailer is most often identified as an office products supplier, but has recently begun expanding into new service offerings by adding more focused small business solutions to their portfolio. In October, OfficeMax launched their Business Solutions Center, an innovative new store format designed to serve the needs of local entrepreneurs and businesses. In addition to selling traditional office supplies, the retail giant is now offering 24-hour IT support and payroll processing, among other local services.


By using an agile approach to marketing, OfficeMax is reinventing its brand image. I asked Kim, who played an integral role in the launch, what some of the biggest changes were during this evolution and she said, “Now, it’s not only knowing our customer, but also understanding our customer’s customer.”Kim noted that OfficeMax is not reinventing the wheel, but expanding the attributes that the customer associates with the brand. This flexible and open lens on the brand enabled her and her team to create new solutions for customers and new business opportunities for the company.

Whether you are a day-one startup or a multimillion dollar corporation, it’s more important than ever to be agile. Continuously understanding who is benefiting from your services and what is driving your business helps you to identify areas of revenue generation. As you explore these new (sometimes unexpected) opportunities, be open to innovating your marketing tactics. Not every venture will be a success, but learnings will come from each initiative. And even if one or two fail, an agile framework will enable you to pick up the pieces quickly and move on. As market factors change, the demands and preferences of your customer will evolve. The key is staying nimble enough to adjust and grow with your customers’ needs - and to stay one step ahead of the competition.

Published on: Jan 15, 2014
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