Perspectives

Unlocking value with an agile marketing process 

Activating brand response with predictive marketing

Julia Hammond, Managing Director at HEAT, shares key insights for brands who want to implement more agile marketing in their content creation processes to not just be more present and relevant, but the next topic of conversation.

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Our evolving marketing landscape

The unfolding of COVID-19 has brought uncertainty to all businesses around the globe. Brands everywhere have worked to navigate the disruption, maintain or adjust their business continuity and stay afloat in these uncertain times. Many organizations have altered their operating models to fit the changing circumstances, while others have adapted their services to help the greater cause. 

The quick thinking and pivoting of brands across the industry is a real-life case study in what’s known in the industry as “agile marketing.” Today’s connected consumers have more influence than ever in driving the conversation around brands. Companies sometimes only have hours to respond if they want to remain relevant. This means that, in order to maintain their edge, marketing teams should have tools to keep up with the speed of culture.

Agile marketing often thrives on quality and flexibility, and marketers who are excel at it typically depend on a few leading practices to guide them. They develop a clear point of view. They have processes in place to quickly and succinctly respond to complex reputational challenges. They also tap increasingly sophisticated predictive tools to put brands in the middle of conversations when they’re likely to peak.

What’s your POV?

Most consumers are skilled at judging when conversations about brands are genuine. One of the first steps in helping position your organization for authenticity in agile marketing is knowing your point of view – and being willing to stake your reputation on that opinion.

There’s deep business value in authenticity. For instance, in Deloitte’s most recent global survey of millennials, respondents said they tend to patronize and support companies that align with their values. In the survey, 42 percent of millennials said they’d started or deepened a relationship with a company because they perceive its products or services are benefiting society and/or the environment. Separately, 37 percent of respondents said they’d have stopped or lessened a business relationship because of a company’s ethical behavior.

“There’s a big difference between a self-serving brand message, versus participating and adding value to the conversation,” says Hammond. Any marketing campaign involves risk, Hammond adds. But if your brand isn’t willing to unequivocally state its values – including what you’re for and what you’re against – key audiences will likely fail to connect. 

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Creative restraint

Companies can spend months studying those audiences to predict how consumers might react to such pressures – only to see their plans evaporate with a viral tweet. For that reason, another key tactic for companies that want to be more agile is to streamline their content creation processes.

There should be clear guardrails around the process, and questions that guide those content-creation efforts. Who are the people that need to be involved in decision making? What is included in our library of content? How can we adapt that content in real time? How quickly can we act?

The days of extended lead times and multi-year campaign work have little relevance when creatives need content in response to trending conversations.

“You need a clear roadmap, and you need restraint, because you only have a short window before you’re irrelevant,” Hammond says.

Predicting trends

Just as audiences are influencing those conversations with digital tools, marketers also have new digital capabilities to predict where online discussions are heading. For instance, proprietary AI-enabled platforms can scan more than 100 million posts each day from social, blog, and news sources. By identifying topics that are trending in real time, these tools can predict not only which threads might be popular within the ensuing days but also forecast the volume of those conversations.

Predictive capabilities can allow brands to expand the time horizon of potential responses – effectively extending the window of customer engagement. Such tools also remove the human bias from manual monitoring, allowing for specific observations across a vast data set. That type of added context can be game changing for brand managers in the crush of a major sporting event, awards show, or reality TV event in which brands are spending significant sums on advertising and promotions.

“Technology can monitor what’s most relevant to an audience, give brands more context, and predict precise conversations, so you’re not late to the party,” Hammond says.

Today’s marketing organizations should add value to the discourse du jour, and they have to do it in real time. Developing some of these foundational elements of effective agile marketing can better position your organization not just to be more present and relevant, but to be the next topic of conversation.

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