How hotel and travel companies can experience ROI uplift of 20% to 40% with micro-marketing practices
By Alan Young
It’s no secret — the process of building out your 2018 business plan and marketing strategy can, more often than not, feel like gambling. Are you going to wager all your chips (marketing dollars) on black or red, odd or even? Should you make a high bet, or an inside bet? What happens if your bet is a bust? Did you just gamble away the potential success of your business or product? What if we told you that you could minimize that perceived risk, while maximizing results? Typically, the missteps experienced in marketing strategies (especially those specific to content marketing) stem from the misunderstanding of preferred content streams and social platforms popularly used by the target consumer, their core values and their subsequent buying behaviors and motivation(s). The problem here is, if a critical misunderstanding exists, but a company goes full steam ahead on that misinformed idea using the bulk of their marketing budget, recovery isn’t always a walk in the park. And no one is exempt from this experience; even industry giants such as Pepsi and Dove (to use recent examples) have felt the effects of poorly developed or executed, high budget marketing campaigns that promptly imploded on a very public scale, leaving their PR teams scrambling to pick up the pieces and re-strategize. Large-scale marketing campaigns can also take a great deal of time to develop, approve and implement — leaving companies at the mercy of a marketing landscape that is, more often than not, rapidly shifting to align with evolving consumers. Basically, if you take too long to come to the table, there might be nothing left waiting for you. This is where the concept of Agile marketing comes into play. The Agile marketing methodology revolves around the efficient implementation of mini, micro-campaigns (or critical segments of a larger campaign) that are released in waves using a highly collaborative approach from your entire team. This allows companies to effectively test and gauge consumer response in smaller doses, without utilizing all (or the majority of) their marketing resources in one shot. With an increase in speed, transparency and adaptability of company process, team members can focus effectively on minimal increments of each project until they become suitable for release or testing amongst consumers. After all, it’s frequently said that, within the realm of digital marketing, you need to be able to ‘fail fast’. If what you’re doing isn’t working, you want to know now, not later. The Agile approach capitalizes on this understanding, and ensures you are never putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Instead, you’re setting yourself up to fail (and more importantly, learn) fast and adapt quicker than your competition, because you can discover an adjustment that needs to be made after a well implemented mini-campaign or test, almost immediately. Basically, to be agile within the marketing sphere, your business has to continuously leverage data and analytics to identify opportunities, roll-out mini campaigns and adjust existing campaigns or solve problems in real time. The entire approach is based on the traditional rugby ‘scrum’, where the ball is constantly being moved back into play while two teams are huddled together, pushing and crowding around the ball. In order to score, the ball has to be continuously passed backwards. Applying this format to Agile marketing, to be truly ‘agile’, a team has to be extremely collaborative at all times, with everyone playing their part in moving the ball (a strategy or campaign) forward to score (positive consumer response). A successful Agile marketing campaign requires everyone on the team to work towards a common goal, understanding that the process is, at it’s core, entirely iterative and subject to continuous evolution. When a company is truly agile, they should be able to run hundreds of campaigns simultaneously, while constantly producing new ideas each week. The results speak for themselves. According to Mckinsey, “Even the most digitally savvy marketing organizations, where one typically sees limited room for improvement, have experienced revenue uplift of 20 to 40%. Agile also increases speed: marketing organizations that formerly took multiple weeks or even months to get a good idea translated into an offer fielded to customers find that after they adopt agile marketing practices, they can do it in less than two weeks.” So, what does an Agile strategy actually look like? As a great case study example, the Extended Campuses of Northern Arizona University had always used a traditional marketing model, which consisted of annual budgets which fueled 50 or so marketing initiatives throughout the year. As the University become more aware of the rapid pace of the digital marketing realm, they realized they needed to change their process to adapt, remain efficient and relevant.
That’s when they discovered Agile marketing. Instead of relying on annual plans, they switched to shorter-term bursts of collective focus (one or two months ahead, versus an entire year). This shift in their marketing approach allowed them to be more responsive to their client needs, and move quickly to adopt necessary changes. Instead of assigning a project to a single individual, who then had to push the work through freelance graphic designers and wait through various approval/editing phases, they broke down big projects into smaller, prioritized segments. Within Agile marketing, this breakdown is called a “sprint”. The segments were then assigned to individuals (chosen based on skills and availability) within the department, who were able to complete their contributions (creating the collective whole) with ease within two weeks. This not only minimized the time required to complete each project, but the University was able to reduce the amount of outsourced work, which helped to reduce costs. According to the reports, the University has been able to hire more full-time writers and part-time designers, and in 2013 the marketing department created more than 200 collateral pieces— four times what it produced the previous year. The marketing team limits itself to one hour of meetings a week, with twice-weekly 15-minute “scrum” meetings which help team members to remain accountable and share information without wasting time. Their productivity is up 400%, and sprint tasks have a nearly 95% completion rate. Ask yourself, is your business in need of Agile marketing makeover?