Best Laid Plans: Agile Marketing Lessons from the Zoo
Last Friday, some of the Beyond AUM team made the trek to the Lincoln Park Zoo. We had one goal in mind: get a peak at the new baby lion. We were determined and had even called off a previous visit due to unfavorable weather, because we wanted to give ourselves the best chance of catching a glimpse. But this was a perfect warm and sunny day, and the team was ready to go. After grabbing a cocktail (something you must do at the zoo), we headed over to the lion exhibit. No lion. We brushed it off and decided we would circle back around at the end of the day. Surely the lion would be out then. But when the day ended and we returned to the lion’s habitat there was still no cute baby lion for us to see. What the heck! This whole day was about the lion. Damn you, Pilipili…
It got us thinking about best-laid plans and how they connect to our financial advisory clients and the work that we do for them. At Beyond AUM, we follow the same process as an advisor: we have a discovery meeting; we formulate a plan based on the information and the data we uncover; then we execute that plan over the course of our relationship. But we’re also agile, because we know we must adapt to the constantly changing landscape we call “marketing.” Being able to shift our marketing tactics when plans don’t work out is one of the most important things we can do. As a result, we’ve learned a few things about agile marketing.
What Is an Agile Marketing Plan?
An agile marketing plan features a flexible approach that allows you to quickly pivot and make changes on the fly as needed. It’s a response to the ever-changing environment and the need for financial advisory firms to be able to adapt quickly to new trends and technologies. By the way, this isn’t the same thing as market timing. Rather, agile marketers follow the changes in data, technology, and personal preference of the target market, rather than chasing the next shiny new app.
The traditional marketing plan is very linear, with a strict beginning, middle, and end. You start with your objectives and strategy, then move on to tactics and execution. Once the campaign is over, you analyze the results and adjust for the next time.
But agile marketing plans are much more fluid. They are designed to constantly evolve and change as new insights and data emerge. You might have an idea of what you want to accomplish, but to remain agile, you’re always willing to pivot and make changes as needed.
This approach is similar to the agile software development methodology, which focuses on iterative, rapid development cycles. The goal is to be able to rapidly respond to change and deliver value to your clients as quickly as possible.
Benefits of an Agile Marketing Plan
Agile marketing plans offer a number of advantages, including:
Quick adaptation to changes: In an ever-changing landscape, this is crucial. You need to be able to pivot and make adjustments on the fly to stay ahead of the competition.
Rapid response to clients’ needs: With an agile marketing plan, you are poised to react efficiently to clients’ preferences and feedback. This allows you to quickly make modifications as needed to ensure that you’re always delivering value.
Saving time and money: You avoid the need to do extensive planning upfront. You can also avoid the wasted effort of pursuing tactics that don’t work and you can more quickly abandon those as part of the process versus seeing them as a failure. Even when things don’t work out, we always learn something that can be useful in future efforts.
Increased ROI: Because agile marketing allows you to quickly adapt and make changes as needed, you’re more likely to see a higher ROI because you are not spending time and money on things that are not working.
There are many ways to make your marketing more agile. Here are a few examples:
Make use of data: Use data to inform your decisions and make changes as needed. This could include things like A/B testing different tactics or using client feedback to inform your decisions.
Be flexible with your budget and approach: Don’t be afraid to shift your budget around as needed to invest in new opportunities. The ability to be flexible with resources is crucial in marketing. Things change quickly, and what works today may not work tomorrow. Being able to adapt on the fly is key to your success.
Be open to new ideas: Always be willing to try new things. This could include new technologies or approaches that are working in other industries. If you’re stuck in a rut, sometimes the best thing you can do is try something new—think outside the box.
Be prepared to pivot: Always be ready to make changes as needed, even if that means completely changing an approach that’s not working. Don’t be afraid to change direction. It can be tough to admit that you’re wrong, but sometimes it’s the only way to get results.
Making the switch to an agile marketing plan can be a big change for some firms. But, if you’re willing to be flexible and adapt as needed, it can be a very successful approach. After all, if we had stayed focused on our disappointment in not seeing the baby lion, we would have missed this beautiful giraffe.
Beyond AUM works with financial advisory firms to help plan for, implement, and pivot the areas of marketing and client experience. If you’re feeling stuck and want to try a new approach, reach out. We’re here to help.