The single most valuable marketing capability today

The following is a foreword I wrote for a new Agile Marketing white paper produced by Valtech.

Three Waves of Agile: Channels, Technology, Management

We’re privileged to live in the most exciting time in the history of marketing.

While every profession has been impacted by the explosion of ubiquitous computing and connectivity in the digital age, the impact on marketing has undoubtedly been the most profound. As the world has moved online, the distance between companies and customers has collapsed to zero. Google calls it the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT), and it changes everything.

Previously, high costs and slow lead times were the price marketers paid to cross the physical chasm to their audience — and that bridge only went in one direction. Marketing management and infrastructure were built around those constraints.

But today, information and interactions freely flow both ways. Costs and lead times for many marketing activities, at least as dictated by external constraints, have shrunk. A large advertising budget is no longer the centerpiece of marketing. Instead, customer intimacy has become the new crown jewel. It encompasses the entire firm, and it’s elevated marketing to the vanguard of business leadership.

I propose to you that, in this new era, the most valuable marketing capability is agility.

Consider three waves of agile transformation in marketing:

The first wave was driven by the proliferation of digital channels themselves. How long does it take for your prospects to open an email, query a search engine, jump to a web site, or engage with social media? As fast as they can click. And they can effortlessly move across the breadth of the global Internet as interest and inspiration strikes. They’re fluidly agile in the digital space.

Symmetrically, how long does it take you to update your web site, send an email, launch a keyword ad on Google, or share new content on Facebook or Twitter? The actual moment of publishing — and its delivery to your audience — is also done at the speed of a click. We’ve come to take this for granted, but it is an amazing shift in the nature of communication.

But the very fluidity of digital channels quickly became marketing’s bane as well as its boon. As the number of vehicles and individually addressable audience segments multiplied, the sheer magnitude of deploying all these digital messages — and servicing the resulting interactions with prospects and partners — outstripped the ability for marketers to implement them all by hand.

Thankfully, the second wave of agile transformation is now arriving: a massive new generation of marketing technology platforms that provide software-based levers to manage this load at scale. Marketing analytics, marketing automation, marketing optimization — these tools thrive on the dynamics of the digital domain. They empower marketers to target and personalize thousands of micro-marketing interactions across all these channels.

Or, it might be more accurate to say that they technically enable such Long Tail marketing.

For many marketers, something else is becoming the gating factor in their performance. It’s this bottleneck that is the focus of the third wave of agile transformation: making the marketing organization itself truly agile.

Agile Marketing white paper by Valtech

Up to this point, digital was largely squeezed into marketing management and governance structures that predated it by decades. But now we’re reaching an inflection point where digital is our new foundation, not our window dressing. To harness the agility of digital channels and technologies, we must now adapt our organizations to operate at this new speed.

Agile marketing methodologies — by no coincidence, adapted from agile development methodologies that revolutionized modern software — promote a better way of managing marketing in this dynamic environment. They let us act and react at the speed of digital. “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,” to appropriate Muhammad Ali’s famous words. It’s an approach that can make even the largest marketing departments nimble.

This paper by Valtech connects the dots between these three waves of agile transformation. It illuminates the possibilities and sketches a roadmap for moving forward. I hope it inspires you — for there has truly never been a better time to be an inspired marketing leader.

Click here to download the complete white paper (free registration required).

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3 thoughts on “The single most valuable marketing capability today”

  1. Also downloading the white paper, look forward to an interesting read. Very curious to see how new digital technologies propel this inflection point. Devices like those of Project Glass ( are going to drastically change the way that marketers and business present information to their customers. Marketers are certainly living in interesting times.

  2. Pingback: Agile Marketing and the Need for Speed | Holistic Marketing Concepts

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