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  • Writer's pictureJohn Bell

The Agile Marketing Strategy for Small Business

The importance of strategy in marketing can’t be overstated. Today, though, we need simpler strategies that can be tested and optimized via agile execution. No need for strategic ‘cathedrals’ that take months to design when a strategic, fit-for-purpose ‘fishing shack’ will do quite nicely.

As A.G.Lafley and Roger Martin summarize in Playing to Win,Strategy is about making specific choices to win in the marketplace.” Strategy tells a startup or small business leader what they will do and what they won’t do to drive revenue and growth. It aligns limited resources to acquire and retain customers in a way that creates a sustainable advantage for the business. Today, marketing strategy needs to remain flexible and ready to respond to data, customers and the marketplace – especially when we are living through such extraordinary times.

The Agile Marketing approach aims to make it easier to define strategy, to focus on a digital-first world of customer engagement, to evaluate your execution and then optimize your effort. The Marketing Strategy is part of the NextNow Digital Agile Marketing Canvas – a system that focuses brand and marketing strategy and simplifies it for startups and small businesses. It aims to answer the questions, “How will you engage your customers and win their business? Given customer and market insights, how can your business gain a competitive advantage via marketing and sales?”

It includes four templates:

Objectives Worksheet: Your top goals, KPIs and timeline.

This common tool sets the foundation for strategy by establishing the core business objectives and how you would measure achieving those goals. By limiting to 2-4 goals, this template both simplifies and focuses, both deliver benefits to busy and/or ambitious startup entrepreneurs.

Customer Profile: Actionable insights and targeting data per segment.

Customer personas or profiles have been around forever. There are good ones and silly ones - ones that seem to have some information yet little of it is actionable. Customer Profiles should inform your strategy, tactics, channels or content. They simplify your customer targets into archetypes that make marketing more manageable. Yes, we are all aiming towards a future of hyper-personalization and “marketing to segments of one.” We’re just not there yet.

The Agile Marketing Customer Profile focuses on core demographics (the basics of who they are), psychographics (their relevant attitudes), and their behaviors (what will drive decision-making). No matter what customer profile model you use, make sure you ask yourself, “how will this help me engage with my prospects and customers?”

Journey Worksheet: Channels & tactics by phase and intent.

Customer journeys are the new marketing and sales funnel. They cause you to think about what your prospect or customer is trying to do and how your products and services can meet them on that journey. Customer journeys can get detailed and complex. The Journey Worksheet is intentionally simple while still being highly useful. It weaves a thread from the customer intent (what they need to do) through the right channels and touchpoints (where you can meet them) and the best tactics (how you engage them) all the way through the measurement (how you know it’s working).

Strategy Canvas: The summary strategy that connects tactics to objectives.

Most marketing strategies are simple and specific. They tell you how you reach the objective. The Strategy Canvas keeps it simple. It restates those business objectives from the Objectives Worksheet – usually only 1-3 different objectives. For each, you draft a short strategy that describes how you plan to achieve the objectives. Finally, you add the tactics from the Journey Worksheet that are worth testing to fulfill on that strategy.

Together, these four templates help startups and small businesses stay focused on three important things:

  • The narrow set of outcomes that will drive their business forward

  • What strategy and tactics will most likely deliver on those outcomes

  • What their customers need to accomplish and how the brand can provide the right solution at the right moment

Next up: NextNow Digital (NND) Agile Marketing Canvas: The Marketing and Sales Roadmap


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