Understanding the Values and Principles of the Agile Marketing Manifesto

Smartsheet Contributor Joe Weller

May 25, 2021

The Agile Marketing Manifesto outlines the principles and values of using Agile methodology in a marketing context. We discuss the seven values and 10 principles of the Manifesto below.

Included on the page, you’ll find the seven Agile Marketing Manifesto values, the 10 principles, an Agile marketing cheat sheet, and an Agile marketing customer persona template.


What Is the Agile Marketing Manifesto?

The Agile Marketing Manifesto is a set of marketing values and principles. The document provides the base elements necessary to apply the Agile methodology to marketing endeavors.


7 Agile Marketing Manifesto Values

The Agile Marketing Manifesto documents a better way to market products and services. The Manifesto was creating during a summit of marketers at SprintZero in 2012, where the values were defined as follows:

  1. Validated Learning over Opinions and Conventions
  2. Customer-Focused Collaborations over Silos and Hierarchy
  3. Adaptive and Iterative Campaigns over Big-Bang Campaigns
  4. The Process of Customer Discovery over Static Prediction
  5. Flexible vs. Rigid Planning
  6. Responding to Change over Following a Plan
  7. Many Small Experiments over a Few Large Bets
7 Agile Marketing Manifesto Values

Validated Learning over Opinions and Conventions

Validated learning over opinions and conventions was the most popular value that came out of the SprintZero conference. Its importance comes from measuring marketing activities to learn and improve. It aims to remove popular opinions and groupthink.

Best practices and past experiences will cloud even the best marketers' minds, which can limit improvement opportunities. If best practices or team members’ opinions indicate a campaign tactic is a lousy idea, experiment and validate with data. For example, small experiments with variations in messaging might help you reduce the risk of launching a campaign that includes new communication.


Customer-Focused Collaborations over Silos and Hierarchy

This value means that the team will have more success when focusing on what the customer needs. It's vital to avoid decisions made in isolation or based on top-down rank.

It is not uncommon for traditional marketing teams to define the goals and direction of a campaign or project without consulting other stakeholders. Remaining customer-focused requires communication between the marketing and product marketing departments, developers, designers, sales, and product management. Most importantly, one or more of these team members must talk with customers.


Agile Marketing Customer Persona Template

Agile Marketing Customer Persona Template

Download Agile Marketing Customer Persona Template

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This Agile marketing customer persona template will help you gather demographic details, interests, challenges, and buying habits associated with a fictional character that represents your ideal customer.
 

For any other agile marketing templates, please refer to this article


Adaptive and Iterative Campaigns over Big-Bang Campaigns

This value asks teams to begin with a small campaign plan that they can launch quickly, while gathering insights into success and failure, and pivoting as necessary. Build upon successes and discard failures, which is favorable to large campaigns that involve extensive human resources and investment with no guarantee.

Traditional marketing campaigns take months to get off the ground. In contrast, adaptive campaigns might take a week to launch and will evolve as customers' needs change — this gives marketing the chance to learn what works and what doesn't.


The Process of Customer Discovery over Static Prediction

Agile Marketing Customer Discover Survey Template

Download Agile Marketing Customer Discovery Survey Template

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Customer discovery over static prediction focuses on learning about your customers. Customer exploration helps you identify their actual needs, as they are not predictable and require constant study.

Similar to the other values, customer discovery focuses on research and exploration with clients. Truly understanding your customers' interests, buying habits, challenges, and other characteristics through interaction is more valuable than a speculative belief.  

This customer discovery survey template provides survey questions that will help you understand your customers. You can adjust the questions within the template to meet your unique needs.


Flexible vs. Rigid Planning

Flexible vs. rigid planning is key to adaptive marketing. This does not mean that planning is unimportant, but that plans must be able to change as circumstances change. 

Flexibility might be necessary due to changing market conditions, customer demands, or business interests. It is important to remember that planning is helpful, but tweaking the plan is just as vital.


Responding to Change over Following a Plan

Responding to change over following a plan prioritizes flexibility, as Agile marketing departments must be able to adapt when insights point to failure.

Blindly following a plan without learning from insights will lead to failure. Marketing teams will be much more successful if they pivot based on proof. For example, a global pandemic caused many organizations to shift business efforts across multiple departments quickly. Many marketing teams chose to postpone or eliminate campaigns that simply no longer met the needs of their audience and quickly spun up activities that met new needs.


Many Small Experiments over a Few Large Bets

The success of this value depends on measurements. The goal is to learn from small activities or iterations rather than launch a big bang strategy that carries extensive risk. 

Smaller experiments are easier and faster to complete, which allows you to obtain insights and continue to try new approaches. In some cases, these smaller experiments are part of a more extensive campaign. The experiments will enable you to confidently reach the big bang campaign, since you’ll know that the risk of failure is minimal.


10 Agile Marketing Manifesto Principles

The seven values of Agile marketing drive the Agile marketing principles. The principles further describe what it means to operate a marketing organization in an Agile manner. 

The 10 Agile marketing principles are as follows:

  1. Customer satisfaction
  2. Welcome change
  3. Frequent delivery
  4. Collaboration
  5. Motivated team
  6. Learning feedback loop
  7. Constant pipeline
  8. Learn from failure
  9. Focus on marketing fundamentals
  10. Keep it simple
10 Agile Marketing Manifesto Principles

Customer Satisfaction

The highest priority of Agile marketing is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of marketing that solves problems. Traditional marketing teams focus on achieving lead goals, while an Agile marketing team aims to meet customer needs.


Welcome Change

In Agile marketing, teams welcome and plan for change. The team’s ability to respond to change quickly is a source of competitive advantage. Whereas traditional marketing teams prefer to follow a strict plan and timeline, an Agile marketing team expects change — in fact, they appreciate change as it is a means to excel.


Frequent Delivery

Deliver marketing programs frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. Agile methodology prefers a shorter timescale, while traditional marketing teams spend months preparing large programs. Agile marketing teams deliver smaller iterative programs and improve over time.


Collaboration

Great marketing requires close alignment with the businesspeople, sales, and development. Traditional marketing teams tend to work in silos. Agile marketing team members work very closely, and regular communication and transparency ensure everyone knows what is happening to reduce delays.


Motivated Team

Build marketing programs around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done. The transition to Agile marketing is not always easy, however, since it requires team members to commit to the approach.


Learning Feedback Loop

Learning through the build-measure-learn feedback loop is the primary measure of progress in Agile marketing. Measurements are the only way to gather data and improve. Traditional marketing measures results following long-term campaigns, while Agile forces teams to learn and pivot quickly.


Constant Pipeline

Sustainable marketing requires you to keep a constant pace and pipeline. Traditional marketers might experience chaos when preparing and launching an extensive campaign, which leaves them worn down. In contrast, Agile marketers work at a steady rate.


Learn from Failure

Don't be afraid to fail — just don't fail the same way twice. Traditional marketing programs hold significant investments, but Agile marketing campaigns allow for experimentation without enormous risk. Sharing measurements and feedback often allows everyone to learn and improve.


Focus on Marketing Fundamentals

Continuous attention to marketing fundamentals and good design enhances agility. Agile marketing does not require that you forgo knowledge and best practices. Utilize your experiences, but include small experiments that you can measure as you go along.

For example, if you always use strictly professional subject lines, try something new. Experiment with emails that go to subsets of your database that use more playful subject lines vs. professional subject lines. If the experiment performs better, you have the data to back a transition to a new subject line practice.


Keep It Simple

Simplicity is essential. Traditional marketing invests endless time and money into crafting and executing programs that might miss the mark. By understanding the desired outcome and solving it in the simplest way, you help ensure that you work smarter, not harder.


Agile Marketing Manifesto Cheat Sheet

This user-friendly Agile marketing cheat sheet provides a quick look at the values and principles of the Agile Marketing Manifesto. It also includes Agile marketing essentials, such as who makes up the team, what events occur, and valuable tools.

Agile Marketing Manifesto Cheat Sheet

Download Agile Marketing Cheat Sheet - PDF

You can find tips on how and when to get started with agile marketing in our guide "Turn Change into Opportunity with Agile Marketing"


History of the Agile Marketing Manifesto

The success of Agile for software development sparked Agile marketing as a more accurate and predictable marketing model. In 2012, a group of marketers came together to create the first Agile Marketing Manifesto.

Agile software development has been around for over 20 years, and the Agile Manifesto was published in 2001. Marketing teams face the same unpredictable, fast-paced environment that spawned Agile for software development. As such, many marketers began to adopt the principles of Agile to solve for more iterative marketing campaigns. A team of marketers, all hungry to formalize Agile for marketing, met at the first Agile marketing conference, SprintZero, in June 2012.


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