Everything You Need to Know About Agile Marketing

Oreo Super BowlIt’s been given many names over the last few years, but whether you call it news-jacking, brand-jacking, piggybacking or its latest nomenclature agile marketing, when done well reacting to the news agenda can be one of the most powerful weapons in a PR or social media professional’s arsenal. Social networks, and Twitter in particular, have upped the agile marketing game significantly, with the likes of Premier Inn, Paddy Power and Oreo gaining significant buzz both on and offline as a result of timely interjections published through microblogging.

There are essentially two types of agile marketing: planned and reactive. But both must look reactive even if, in the case of the former, it’s planned to the minutest detail. If an initiative looks contrived it’s guaranteed to bomb, and it’s not an easy balance to strike. But much comes down to preparation (at least, as much as you can prepare for a story that you don’t yet know about…) and having the right mindset to be awake to opportunities and able to react quickly when they present themselves.

Five Secrets of the Agile Marketing Mindset

1. Planning is everything

The starting point of any agile marketing is being aware not only of the news agenda, but of the cultural agenda. True agile marketers know well in advance what major events are happening when, either for pre-planned activities or to enable them to cleverly hijack developments within those events. If you think Oreo got lucky when it published its Superbowl blackout tweet, think again. It had a team of people watching the event with news-jacking in mind.

2. Listening is everything

Having planned to be spontaneous, agile marketers have their finger on the pulse of breaking news. They’re aware of what cultural and political topics people are interested in today. They keep track of what’s forming the major talking points on Twitter. And they spend lots of time just watching and listening for opportunities. They live in the moment.

3. Relevance is everything

It sounds obvious, but not every news story, no matter how big, is suitable for every brand. Agile marketers understand the personality and persona of their brand, and they understand how the news agenda fits with this persona. For every activity they carry out, they’ve probably rejected ten or twenty ideas simply because they didn’t fit with the brand or the brand’s tone of voice. Topics that do make the cut are topics that resonate with the brand’s audience.

4. Timing is everything

At the very heart of agile marketing is the ability not only to spot a story but to respond fast. And with Twitter in mind, fast is measured in minutes not hours. Agile marketers look for stories that are literally just breaking, and they have a relevant, quirky response out of the door in double quick time. In order to achieve this, they’ve gained a position of trust within their company or with their clients. Approval loops are minimised or, in the best case scenario, scrapped altogether.

5. Originality is everything

Equally as important as speed is creativity. Agile marketers’ goal is to get a pithy, quirky or humorous comment out before anyone else can do so. If someone beats them to the punch with a joke (for example), the opportunity has gone. They want to ‘own’ an angle on a breaking topic. That angle may be a simple tweet or it may involve some super-speedy Photoshop work, but the creative element is a very important part of the equation in making something fly.

That’s my take on it, and I’ve had some real successes employing this approach. But am I missing anything? And what great examples have you seen recently of agile marketing in action?

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Posted by Paul Sutton