What The Heck Is Agile Marketing?

Posted by Michael Lindberg on Apr 23, 2018 10:10:54 AM

agile marketing

What The Heck Is Agile Marketing?

Ever heard of Scrum? If you are in to rugby you know the original meaning of the word: it’s when the play is restarted and the two teams’ forwards interlock with their heads down in an attempt to gain possession of the ball. This “image” was used by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka in their 1986 Harvard Business Review article "New New Product Development Game". In this article the authors introduced a new fast and flexible way of developing innovative products. Since then their scrum process has been widely accepted, not least among software developers as a tool to efficiently hit the right target.


This sounds an awful lot like agility. And agile really has become a buzzword in the last few years because we all know that when the world around us changes rapidly we need to change as well, i.e. we need to be agile. So, our colleagues in R&D, especially the programmers, have had agility as a guiding star for years, and now it’s our turn in sales and marketing. But how? What is agile sales and marketing? Let’s take a look at agile marketing and get back to agile sales in a later blog post.

Rapidly Respond To Changes

First off, many people equate agile marketing to using data and analytics in their marketing efforts. I’d say that’s true, but it’s also more than that, even though it makes me disagree with people smarter than myself like e.g. McKinsey consultants. Here’s how they define agile marketing:


“Agile, in the marketing context, means using data and analytics to continuously source promising opportunities or solutions to problems in real time, deploying tests quickly, evaluating the results, and rapidly iterating.”


Sure, they’re right, but I think there’s more to it than that, actually a level above. Here’s my definition:


“Agile marketing means responding rapidly to observed changes in the market rather than following a defined plan.”


So to me, using data and analytics is only one implementation of agile marketing.

ICE Score Framework

In real life the market keeps changing and the pace can often make you breathless. You can’t just close your eyes and hope everything is back to “normal” when you open them again. You have to act! And even though you must do so rapidly you can’t rely on only one great response, but which of your bright ideas should you go for?


Sean Ellis, the founder and CEO of GrowthHackers, has introduced a simple yet very effective tool to decide which idea to implement. He calls it the ICE Score Framework and it consists of three questions using a five-point scale:

  • I: What will the impact be if this works?
  • C: How confident are we that this will work?
  • E: How easy is it to implement?


According to Ellis the choice is simple: Choose the one that gets the most points. And from then it’s time to do as McKinsey and many others suggest: use data and analytics to make adjustments rather than depend on opinions and conventions.




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Topics: Marketing, webinar, Strategic Agility