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Do you know how fast to move with your agile marketing?

I have several clients who have adopted agile marketing, and they are trying to make changes to their marketing systems as rapidly as possible. They are all large companies and they have big changes to make fast. But how do they know when they are moving too slow and when they are moving too fast?

A big part of the decision revolves around the organization itself. I like to draw a matrix that shows how rapidly the company can roll out new marketing systems:

Forced to Use Free to Adopt
Requires Behavior Change Slow down for releases Full speed ahead
No Behavior Change Required Full speed ahead Full speed ahead

If your latest exciting change to your marketing requires that your personnel or your customers change their behavior, and they are forced to use your new system when you launch it, then you need to treat it as a standard software release. You need to consider whether you need training, communications, a formal launch date, a way to help people trying to do it the old way, and other kinds of software release types of activities.

For example, think about a change where you want your phone sales reps to choose different scripts for different kinds of customers. You probably need some kind of training for them and you most definitely at least need to communicate with them so they are ready when it happens. This is a forced change requiring a behavior change–you need some kind of release planning.

But if both of those conditions do not exist, then you can roll out your change whenever you want–what software people call “slip-streaming.” If people are free to keep working the old way or if they don’t need to change their behavior, then you can innovate at will and see what happens. Fortunately, most of the changes marketers want to make fall into this category, so that makes things easy most of the time.

Suppose the same company was using a system where each time a call is connected, the script for that customer is shown on the screen. In that case, there is no behavior change, so the change can be made at any time. Or suppose you were making it optional as to when sales reps started using the new scripts–then they would be free to adopt (or not), so the change can be made any time.

Because slipstream changes are so much simpler than releases, it is sometimes worth compromising how you approach the change so that you can do it in slipstream fashion. Regardless, you need to consider what is required for each kind of change to know how fast and loose you can play it.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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