By nickjohnson - February 5th, 2014

Tips from senior practitioners

In my discussions with marketing executives over the last few months, one topic comes up again and again. Chief Marketing Officers, SVPs and other executives all tell me that they’re working to ensure their marketing department becomes more ‘agile’, more ‘nimble’ and more responsive.

Departments are increasingly moving away from the traditional, phased marketing campaigns of old.

They’re being replaced with a more agile, responsive - and iterative - approach, where the core tenets of the ‘lean startup’ movement are adopted - Build > Measure > Learn. Already, these tenets are integrated into product development teams at large brands. It appears the approach is now bleeding into marketing departments across the USA. The best in class marketing departments are now nimble, responsive, and able to quickly leverage opportunities as they present themselves. As Bob Stohrer, who heads up Brand and Creative at Yahoo, has said - the old models simply don’t work any more: “The old marketing playbook of how to construct a campaign, and what works, needs to get thrown out of the window. People need to be thinking about how they can be nimble, opportunistic and how they can ensure their brand is appearing at the right time, in the right places.” “Real-time marketing” tends to represent the apotheosis of this trend - a situation where a brand is able to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. The most famous current example is “You can still dunk in the dark” - the tweet Oreo sent when the 2013 SuperBowl power failed and the stadium was plunged into darkness. But there is rather more to this trend than simply sending out tweets in response to current events.

o that point, our team includes ‘Planners’ - a function that’s common in the agency world - who work into the organization to make sure our creative teams are fully nourished with all the necessary information and insights to build great campaigns.”Marketing departments must make some deep changes if they’re to be able to leverage opportunities as they arise, and not rely on month-long marketing campaigns. At Yahoo, Stohrer has already built up a core creative team within the marketing department. Including designers, art directors, writers and engineers, who are tasked with building up new campaigns and experiences in house. “A good way to think about us is as an internal agency that is built to function in many ways like an external agency.

There’s an increasing trend among many marketers to move away from building big, traditional seasonal campaigns.Ivan Wicksteed, Chief Marketing Officer at Old Navy, has also begun to investigate this model. He believes there is a looming question in the marketing world - “Who owns creative?”. He’ll be discussing this issue in depth at the Incite Summit: West in San Francisco in May. Stohrer, it seems, can already answer: “Nowadays, it’s critically important that marketing and creative teams are in a position to move rapidly and intelligently to take advantage of insights and emerging opportunities.

Having an internal creative center of excellence means that we’ve always got teams invested in the business that are ready to roll”

Marketers across the USA are busy ensuring their own departments are just as 'ready to roll' to leverage new - and fast moving - opportunities in the year ahead. For more on this topic, be sure to check out the Incite Summit West, where “Becoming an agile marketing department” is a key topic on the agenda.

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