Voices

How to make your strategic marketing agile

Is your firm agile enough for today’s super competitive environment? Simply put, the agile methodology is an operational practice that encourages almost continuous development and testing of products or services. In recent years, an “agile” business model has proven to be the best defense against a constantly changing, unpredictable market. This applies as much to the accounting and financial services industry as it does to any other.

When it comes to marketing, an agile approach is becoming essential. Agile marketing is the process of testing and implementing a series of focused projects related to the marketing of an organization, such as developing effective messages for social media. It focuses on frequent experimentation and revisions to optimize short- and long-term marketing plans.

There are four fundamental processes you should use to ensure that your strategic marketing is agile, ready to address ever-changing — even disruptive — situations:

Continuously monitor your target market for changes in trends and client/prospect requirements. As your target audience adapts to changes in their markets, you need to revise your messaging and strategic marketing program to address those changes. If you’re still talking about A and your audience is now concerned with B, you’re going to suffer from a major marketing disconnect that could put you at a competitive disadvantage and cost you business.

Constantly monitoring your target audience is not just smart from a marketing perspective, it makes good overall business sense as well. Efficient monitoring of your target market ensures your marketing investment is not wasted. Not knowing how effective each program and campaign is increases the risk of throwing away money on useless activities. Use your monitoring efforts to cut any programs that do not achieve their initial goals and streamline your marketing plan.

Try new ideas and new approaches regularly. What works today may not work tomorrow. Messages and campaigns lose effectiveness in a rapidly changing marketplace as marketing channels gain and lose popularity on a regular basis.

One of your most valuable marketing resources is your current clients, so check with them regularly. For marketing efforts with goals that are difficult to monitor quantitatively — such as awareness-building — survey your clients as well as your target audience. Send out simple email surveys and post one on your website with links from your social media platforms. Design questions to elicit specific information that will help measure the success of your marketing campaign, such as client knowledge of new services, for example.

Track results and adjust as needed. Today’s marketing platforms are supported by sophisticated analytical tools. Choose the appropriate analytics for your firm’s marketing program and goals and use them. List the marketing efforts that are planned for the quarter or even the year and find tools that will help you monitor their effectiveness. For web-based initiatives, check out website analytics programs such as Google Analytics.

Build in monitoring systems at the beginning of each marketing effort. Before you launch a new campaign, implement your monitoring tools. Treat evaluation and tracking as an integral part of the marketing process and assign one of your marketing staff to monitoring duties.

If you’re not regularly tracking results and adjusting your marketing to optimize them, you’re on the road to diminishing returns. A changing business environment requires your firm and its marketing to change with it if you are to succeed.

Speed up marketing reviews to keep pace with the speed of evolving markets. Instead of annual or biannual reviews, seriously consider reviewing plans quarterly. Think of your marketing plan as a “living document.” If it’s not nurtured regularly, it will die. No truly effective plan can be devised to last an entire year without some changes to address evolving services, markets, and competition.

Many factors can affect your marketing strategy — market conditions, competitor and partner activities, client and prospect demands. These are just some of the things that can require regular tweaking to your strategy and plan. By increasing your marketing reviews, you can keep aware of periodic changes in the factors that can affect your plan and adjust accordingly.

Agile marketing can work for any accounting and financial services firm. While it requires careful planning and smart investments in the right tools and technologies to streamline certain processes, the payoff is well worth it.