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7 Reasons Why Startups Need to Embrace Agile Marketing Every moment your message isn't in market is a moment that your competition is winning over your audience.

By Michael LeBeau Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Some flavor of this conversation happens every single day: "We'd love to help you with your marketing efforts. We'll go off and in XX weeks (or months) we'll come back to you with the solution. Don't worry, it'll be just what you need. Let's just agree to a big, fat price (or retainer) up front and just trust that your money will be well spent!"

Since the beginning of marketing, this is the way agencies and clients have done the dance. Leaving most decision-makers with an uneasy feeling in their gut, but motivated to reluctantly move forward. This is just how marketing has to be, right? Well, not exactly.

Related: 8 Rookie Marketing Mistakes I Made but You Don't Have To

Particularly in the first few years of the growth of a business, every dollar spent is critical. Every moment your message isn't in market is a moment that your competition is winning over your audience. Startups, by nature, must do more with less on a daily basis, and when it comes to marketing, many have a dip-your-toe-in-the-water mentality.

There is a solution to the old, traditional mentality and methodologies of marketing. It's called Agile Marketing. The relentless pursuit of iterating and scaling to bigger, better ideas with efficiency and speed. A model much better suited to keep pace with the entrepreneurial spirit of companies today.

Here are seven reasons why Agile Marketing is tailor-made for startups:

1. Minimizes risk

The Agile Marketing approach calls for quick validation of ideas. Before launching full-scale campaigns, Agile allows you to learn early if the concept resonates. Its foundation is built on placing lots of small "bets" vs. one large one. First, decide on an MVP (Minimal Viable Product) -- this is the simplest essence of your final output. Then, get it in front of your audience. Your MVP might be a social post or an email, but its purpose is to gather immediate learnings. Ideally, test several versions in order to fail fast on the ones that don't work and scale the ones that do. This process takes the opinion and subjectivity out of the equation, because crossing your fingers and hoping a concept will work for the market does not protect your investment, or guarantee success.

Related: How to Come Out on Top in a Competitive Market

2. Drives results that lead to better ideas

One of the tenets of Agile Marketing is to start small, learn and scale. Once you understand what a customer responds and relates to, how you improve your output is critical. The Agile process allows teams to apply their learnings to a better and smarter version of their MVP -- that's when the real iteration begins. This fundamental approach allows you to keep up with and stay ahead of the rapidly changing marketplace. These days it's a necessity to stay competitive, and one that traditional marketing simply doesn't allow.

3. Builds collaboration and trust

The Agile Marketing process inherently builds stronger teamwork between internal and external teams. While a deep hierarchy is not normally an issue in startups, the only way an Agile process works is if upper management is either an active participant in the process, or you empower someone on your team to make decisions on your behalf. It's about making decisions quickly and not about watering down the ideas through internal gatekeepers. Success depends on the ability to get raw (but polished) ideas out to consumers quickly. Daily stand-up meetings keep the momentum going and foster an environment of self-regulation and responsibility. Key team members gather every day for 15 minutes to discuss three things: What did you get accomplished yesterday, what will you accomplish today and what barriers are in your way to accomplishing those tasks? This constant contact and collaboration creates true "community" within the workplace. Agile Marketing requires trust, face-to-face discussions, decisiveness and a general feeling of ownership across the teams.

Related: Email Marketing Is Nearly 40 Years Old. How Can We Keep It Thriving?

4. Fosters a "culture of doing"

While you hope that all employees have the same entrepreneurial spirit you do, Agile Marketing encourages a sense of urgency among all employees to "get it done." If the right people are empowered, there are fewer meetings, less wasted time and fewer roadblocks.

5. Results in transparency and confidence

With daily stand-ups and project management tools (i.e. Trello, Slack, Jira, among others) designed to itemize tasks, assign owners and aid in real-time communication, all internal and external partners know:

  • Exactly what's going on at all times during the project lifecycle
  • Who is responsible for what
  • How (client's) money is being spent

An equally important piece to the workflow is splitting the work into two-week sprints. Assigning a deliverable at the end of every single sprint cycle also ensures that the team feels confident it is getting value out of the process.

Related: 3 Ways to Avoid Mediocre Marketing Content

6. Does more with less

Startups have limited resources, and Agile allows teams to focus on what's important and impactful, letting busywork fall by the wayside. By breaking down all projects (large and small) into manageable deliverables, and creating a backlog of all tasks to be done, the team can work together to promote the most pressing or easily doable tasks into the sprints.

7. Utilizes data-driven, real-time results

Startups can't afford to be slow to market, nor is there budget to outspend the competition. But, you can outsmart and outpace bigger, more cumbersome agencies and brands with Agile Marketing. It allows (more like demands) teams to stay on top of trends, and learn what customers think in real time.

Agile marketing methodologies allow teams to quickly get an idea or concept out to customers early with smaller budgets, less risk and better ideas. In today's marketplace, being in front of your consumers with the right message, at the right time, before your competition is often the difference between winning and losing.

Michael LeBeau

Founding Partner at Scrum50

Michael LeBeau is founder and managing partner at Scrum50, one of the first agile agencies.

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