Thought leadership is the most talked-about marketing strategy that positions your brand as an authoritative figure within your industry. However, to build a successful thought leadership strategy for your business, your marketing team must have the pulse of the most significant industry trends, including your customers' needs.
To achieve this, you must remain agile. Research shows that most marketing leaders and firms rate agility as a high priority, which created the need for agile marketing. At the time of initial conception, agile marketing referred to speedy marketing or creating marketing campaigns and getting them out on time.
Despite their similarities, agility and speed have two very different meanings, so most people mistake agile marketing and speed marketing for the same thing.
Agile Marketing vs. Speed Marketing: What's the Difference?
Most people use these terms interchangeably. Sure, while speed and agility do share some common characteristics, there is one crucial area where the two terms differ:
- Agility is the ability to move quickly, efficiently, and with precision.
- Speed is the ability to move quickly.
So, what do agility and speed have to do with building a successful thought leadership strategy? This requires looking at how each one works.
When you look up speed marketing, you're not going to find a precise definition, and that's because speed marketing is not necessarily a type of marketing – it's considered a competitive advantage.
More and more brands use speed to develop a competitive advantage within their industry. Therefore, instead of "speed marketing," you will see brands using the following terms:
- Speed to market
- Speedy delivery
- Speedy service
- Speed as a competitive advantage
This particular tactic focuses on the idea that speed is a vital distinguishing factor when choosing between one brand or another, a factor that consumers take very seriously. Think about it; we currently live in a "need it and want it now" society. To stay relevant in your industry, you need to be on top of everything – communications, campaigns, product releases.
The problem is that you are not necessarily focusing on the overall quality of the product you are putting out or the content you're sharing with consumers when you are focused on speed. So, when emphasizing speed, you want to make sure you are acting with precision as well.
Agile marketing differs from traditional marketing methods because it doesn't necessarily focus on the creation of content. Instead, it targets the planning, execution, and measurement of project/campaign success to help organizations work faster and efficiently.
This framework's ultimate goal is to enable teams to consistently hit their goals without sacrificing the quality of communication between them and their audience or the quality of the products or content they are putting out.
You can achieve this by:
- Prioritizing individuals and interactions to help your brand identify the needs of consumers.
- Being able to identify critical shifts in the industry and responding accordingly.
- Being flexible and not resisting necessary changes.
- Validating learning instead of sticking with "what works."
When implemented correctly, your brand will notice an increase in overall efficiency and productivity.
How to Use Both Agility and Speed in Your Thought Leadership Strategy
We already touched that thought leadership requires you to stay on top of all the latest and most significant trends in your industry and stay relevant with your audience – including how you need to move quickly and precisely within your industry.
So continuous research is vital when you are attempting to combine agility marketing and thought leadership. The only way to learn about your industry's new trends and your consumers' evolving demands is to research them. You then need to quickly analyze that data and implement it into your thought leadership strategy.
So, how can you combine agile marketing and thought leadership?
Developing an Agile Marketing Plan for Your Thought Leadership Strategy
One crucial place that agile marketing and thought leadership overlap is being close enough to your consumers to see shifts in trends and behaviours and respond to them quickly. Promptly and efficiently responding to these changes will position you as the industry leader your consumers are looking for. However, you can't simply make claims without the necessary data to back them up, which is why continuous research is an absolute necessity.
When developing an agile marketing plan that helps position you as a thought leader, you'll need to:
- Build or invest in a team that can conduct and analyze research: brands focusing on agile marketing have no problem investing in research firms to collect necessary data to help them stay ahead of the game.
- Put the data to work: The only way to identify what works and what doesn't is to test out small chunks of your data. Seeing it in action will help you determine what your audience responds to and how it benefits them.
- Ditch what doesn't work: Just because research suggests something may benefit your audience, or your industry doesn't necessarily mean it will work. By testing out small portions of your data, you'll be able to identify what is beneficial and what you can do away with.
Research is crucial to thought leadership, and consistent research helps you stay on top of consumer and industry trends as soon as you notice them.
Thought Leadership Requires a Mix of Agility and Speed
Yes, to be an influential thought leader, you need to stay on top of your industry's latest trends and other trends amongst your consumers.
While speed is excellent when addressing customer needs when positioning yourself as the thought leader in your industry, you need to make sure you act with precision and make agile marketing an effective channel for those who want to create a successful thought leadership strategy.
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