round table meeting

Perspectives

Agile marketing: Content at the speed of culture

Three main drivers for moving to more agile content development

Alan Schulman’s perspective on the imperative for more agile content and campaign development in the era of real-time data-driven marketing.

Agile content development

Time to market isn't just a new product or service launch factor. In today’s world, in order to leverage real-time data such as geolocation, current events, consumer whereabouts, persona-based journey "moments," and even first party data, the time it takes to get branded marketing communications content and campaigns to market can require both cross-functional collaboration and agile creation models/cycles that can move deployment from months to weeks—and even days to hours—in some cases.

This represents an enormous shift in the traditional craft and waterfall-based creative campaign development methods that the agency world has existed in for decades. What many advertising storytellers and content creators have come to learn from their "Agile and Lean user experience/user interface (UX/UI)" design and development colleagues is that the process of rapid iteration, scrumming, and "perpetual beta" testing that they have been deploying for years now provides a model for them to do the same and enable "content at the speed of culture."

It's this opportunity to leverage real-time context, personalized data, current events, and much more that can make content more relevant and emotional—if marketers adopt a willingness to get better, more culturally relevant content to market—faster.

As more marketers move their owned and earned content development and production from agencies to MSPs and in-house studios, the evolution from campaign excellence to always-on content excellence can require more agility and data-driven decisioning than ever before.

But it may not be as simple as just overlaying an agile UX development framework onto your campaign or content development process. They aren't apples to apples ideation and creation models. It can actually require a lot more thought around your "story system" as well as what elements to pre-purpose—and what elements can be re-purposed because they perform well—rather than channel-based deliverables.

"As we evolve from campaigns that turn on and turn off to staying relevant in the world of the "always on" consumer, the imperative for a new, more agile approach to creative and content creation is clear. We have a tremendous bounty of realtime data and contexts to leverage—if we can get our old habits and silos out of the way."

Content at the speed of culture

Embarking on agile creative campaign and content development often begins with looking at three key areas

  1. Organizational model: Are you organized to maximize cross-functional collaboration between your insights and strategy talent, your craftspeople in design, copy and code, as well as your conversation and connections planning and data/analytics people? Do they sit in the same proximity? Same war-room? Same building?

    If your current state is left to a regular "integrated partners" meeting with varied attendance, you're likely not setup for agile content development success.
  2. Ideation/creation process model: Is your campaign/content development process still very agency dependent and grounded in more "linear waterfall" than agile ideation, test, and iterate? How many channel agnostic ideas are you surfacing and testing and at what point in the process?

    The legacy linear process of moving from concept to script/storyboard to animatic to months of test scoring and finally to production doesn't give you much of an opportunity to leverage real-time data and apply it to your channel agnostic story framework or campaign idea.

    Try picking a brand or individual campaign as a proof of concept and apply a more agile content development process that more rapidly cycles through insight, ideate, iterate, pre-purpose, and test—and then optimizes—before investing big in production and paid media. There's a number of great agile workflow tools that can help your culture migrate content faster to market as well.
  3. Tools of the trade: Do you have the right tools and technology in your Martech stack to get content created, approved, published, and distributed to targeted markets and targeted personas faster and more efficiently? Much has been written about the role of Martech in helping you standardize and consolidate content.

    To determine how agile you are in your current state, take a look at the daily activity in your Digital Asset Management system or Content Management System and see where your choke points are. Legal and regulatory approvals go with the territory, but as many newsroom-model content studios have demonstrated, the proximity-based integration of digital, public relations, legal, and copywriting talent all working off the same cloud-based marketing platform can go a long way towards accelerating a more standardized and iterative content creation, curation, and distribution process without being held hostage by agency or channel silos.

These are just three of the main drivers of moving to more agile creative development in an "always on" world—a key is to start small and iterate as you go—rather than trying to change everything at once.

As we evolve from campaigns that turn on and turn off to staying relevant in the world of the "always on" consumer, the imperative for a new, more agile approach to creative and content creation is clear. We have a tremendous bounty of realtime data and contexts to leverage—if we can get our old habits and silos out of the way.

"Try picking a brand or individual campaign as a proof of concept and apply a more agile content development process that more rapidly cycles through insight, ideate, iterate, pre-purpose, and test—and then optimizes—before investing big in production and paid media."