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Agile Marketing Amid COVID-19: Mapping your Marketing to the Next Normal

Marketing evolves gradually with changes in market structure, accumulating growth gains over time till it reaches the tipping point of development. The massive changes caused to the corporate market in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic has, however, caused such an exponential evolution to marketing at large.

At this point, marketers need to make calls about their strategies and go-to-market approach faster than before. There is no time to lounge around lest a new wave of changes invalidates already-proposed strategies. This leaves the room open for an exploration of agile processes and how they will make all the difference for marketers.

Why Consider Agile

In the past few months, our in-house team at iResearch has found out that this is not the time to experiment with a lot of concepts. It is, instead, the opportunity to help our clients get sure success with trusted methods – or strategies that have been extremely back-tested and stress-tested to work in larger-scale situations.

Thus, it would not make sense to just enter the agile marketing world without some proof. Gathering data from industry leaders and research enthusiasts, with a survey space of those that have implemented agile in their marketing too, we have the following.


A VersionOne report collection showed that 98% of organizations that have launched an agile project experienced success as a result of it. To put it in another way, only 2 out of every 100 companies did not record as much success as they would have liked with their agile project.

That might come down to a slew of reasons, but we are not going to get into all that today. It is simply phenomenal to note that such a massive number of users could benefit greatly from adopting this model.


As stated in the opening parts of this piece, time is of the essence right now.

Messages need to be relevant and timely if it will reach the audience. A slack in time could mean the competition jumping on the same message, or the relevance of such a message getting invalidated. A joint AgileSherpas and Aprimo report show that this won’t be an issue with properly deployed agile teams, though.

Such teams tend to get things done faster than traditional marketing teams. For context, the number of teams that succeeded here go up to 53%.

C-Suite executives seem to have come to love the Agile model too. According to the joint Forbes/ CMG Partners report, about 93% of CMOs are appreciative of their improved speed for generating marketing ideas, campaigns, and products.


Speed is one thing, and efficiency is another. After all, going fast in the wrong direction is not a guarantee of success.

That took us to the studies and reports around marketing teams that did use agile to go fast, and what results they got from the end product of their processes. Here, the Standish Chaos Report shows that the teams using an agile model were twice as likely to succeed as their traditional counterparts.

Not only do they get to go fast, but they also get to succeed better too. Great management of time and resources for the best results possible, if you ask us.


Routine, boring, and very long tasks can leave a marketing team uninspired.

Gunning for a long-term goal without short-term wins to keep the team motivated could sometimes make the bigger goal fall through. This would not be a problem for the 87% of CMOs who found their teams to be more productive in an agile environment.

The reason for that is not far-fetched. Agile processes work in sprints, and everyone knows where they should be – and what they should do – to make a sprint successful. There are no do-overs and no take-back-sees either. This pushes everyone in the team to their maximum best, challenging them to come up with new ideas and concepts.

Such an environment brings fun and excitement to the projects at hand.


In one of our CMO insights pieces, we discussed how CMOs need to work with the CFOs for better success in the marketing division. We also broadened the scope in another piece on how CMOs need to work with every aspect of the firm that they are in charge of.

The lack of accountability to other C-suite executives, and poor integration with other departments, could make the CMO’s job harder otherwise.

Interestingly, agile marketing processes tackle this problem effectively.

Already, 20% of senior marketing executives said they saw better accountability once they switched to agile. But then, that was within their team. The part that helps the most for other senior management staff is the 11% increase in transparency, especially with marketing spends. 46% of agile marketers also reap the benefit of better visibility into project status.

At any point in time, it becomes easier to let the other C-suite execs into the exact progress of every project. Likewise, agile marketing means it takes less effort to convince this group to keep supporting the marketing process. That sure beats dealing with budget cuts.

Adopting the Agile Model

We would love to tell you that there is a one-size-fits-all model to agile marketing, but that would not be true.

Your industry, firm, and specific offerings will weigh a lot on your agile marketing model. Your target market and available talent will also play a huge role.

Observing the following trends, a robust agile marketing plan should emerge.

1 Perception is Key

A common mistake that brands make is wanting to be everything to everyone. Going down that path is a recipe for not being enough for those that truly need you.

Sometimes last year, Apple introduced a new set of products and some of them caused a lot of heads to turn. The most notable of those was a computer stand that costs $999. This is the same price that some of the computers the company carries go for. In fact, you can get a decent iPhone with other add-ons for that price and still have some money left for a drink and burgers.

We don’t have access to internal sales figures, but we reckon that the company has sold a decent number of these stands.

The company has positioned itself as a premium brand that does not have to compete with the budget markets to break even on any scale. Thus, their marketing has been tuned to such effects too. They can get things done faster once they know for who they are marketing.

The same should apply to your team.

Take some time to understand your current perception in the market. Crosscheck to see if that corresponds to your preferred perception or not. That cuts out your first line of work for you.

2 The Move to Digital

The coronavirus pandemic is echoing the clamor for a move to digital. Right now, that is what is keeping most companies afloat.

In the United States, for example, an OpenTable report shows that dinners as of 23 March were down a 99% volume year on year. This is a platform that supports more than 60,000 restaurant communities, so that drop in numbers is truly staggering. However, these restaurants are getting support from UberEATS, the digital-based delivery giant that is dedicated to the restaurant business.

Elsewhere, marketers with a trade show budget have been forced to cancel their plans. Tighter measures intended to flatten the curve of the viral spread means that they cannot afford to host such gatherings now.

While 46% of those marketers simply took back their trade show budget to save, some 28% are investing directly in digital advertising instead. Another 14% will prefer to use their budget for content creation – which still goes out via digital channels.

A notable example here is Microsoft. The software behemoth has already closed down ALL of its official physical stores to focus on digital.

The lockdown has also improved the adoption of digital models across different levels of consumer sophistication.

It is left to brands to take advantage of these times to get their buyers thoroughly ingrained into the digital process. By the time things get back to normal, a strong digital platform will be there to help save costs, improve marketing delivery efficiency, and boost customer satisfaction too.

3 Home Is Where the Work Is

Before the pandemic, more than 7 million people in the US alone were working from home. That is about 3.4% of the total population (not working population) of the country. The numbers have grown massively during the pandemic. The work has to go on for some firms, but care has to be taken too, lest these workers fall to the virus.

Some firms (like Twitter) have already announced that there would not be a mandated resumption to the office after the pandemic is cleared out. Those that want to come in for work can still do so, but everyone can work from home if they want to.

This change in work culture should be reflected both internally and externally.

Buyers and consumers are existing fluidly between the office and home concepts right now. Likewise, agile teams should be headed by leaders who can manage a workforce that is not in the same room with them. Your firm’s agile processes should allow for situations of remote work without a drop in speed and efficiency.

Managed right, letting the right team members work from where they are can lead to a bigger boost in quality.

4 The Trust Currency

Brand performance, ease of access, and reputation have long been some buyer considerations. Since the start of the pandemic, social activism and values have been amplified the more.

Edelman has a new body of research out which shows that consumers are shunning brands that they do not trust. The trust currency is only second to price on the list of buyer considerations. Thus, your marketing team needs to understand the value of the firm and sell that strongly.

Facebook is currently bleeding hundreds of millions of dollars in ad revenue from the big companies that have stopped using the service. These big companies also have consumers they have to appeal to. If they do not take such a move against Facebook, which has been lax on its social values for a while now, they could also be boycotted by association.

On the other hand, taking such a strong stand gives them even more reach and exposure, while keeping their names on the lips of buyers for longer.

Prepare for the Resistance

“If it’s not broke, why fix it?”

That question could be the biggest obstacle to achieving the agile marketing dream.

Once the team/ firm is used to one form of marketing, making the change to another model could prove a herculean task. The CMO should not back down in making this happen anyways.

The past few months have shown us how much can change in such a little time. It also reinforces the belief of how companies should be able to pivot, and fast, to achieve both short- and long-term goals. Keeping all these goals up is how well the consumer’s needs can be met.

An agile marketing strategy thus means you are there with timely content and solution for the buyers. It means you are never late to deliver on your promises. Above all, it means you will still be here in the months to come – not struggling to play catch up.

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