By now you can clearly see the work ahead of you in becoming a contextual marketer—and the inevitability of having to do it. The transition from traditional to contextual marketing practices requires laying considerable groundwork, maintaining a relentless focus on the Contextual Model (and all it implies) amid changing consumer demands—all while managing hundreds of automated programs that run simultaneously. It can look unmanageable, but only when we look at it through the lens of Limited Era processes. Fortunately, the Infinite Era has already produced a new style of working that makes all this work much less onerous: It’s called Agile.
Agile is a word you’ve likely heard at this point, certainly if you’ve been exposed to software development, where the style was invented. Software developers, like modern marketers, have a very real issue. They have many things to build, and the conditions of their environment are constantly in flux. To allow them to meet the demands of more work and to achieve better outcomes, developers gave up on traditional ways of building things, often called the waterfall, or assembly-line process, and created a real-time, iterative building process that looks generally like this:
Following this same structure, marketers are able to manage the new work load associated with contextual marketing and achieve much greater results from their efforts. The Agile process starts with stories. Stories are your customer interviews boiled down by persona. Next, with the guidance of the story, you create a test experience. For example, the watchmaker Daniel Wellington might have created a test by engaging one small Instagram influencer focused on travel. This test is often called the minimum viable product (MVP). The term means that you invest only what’s needed to make the product—or in marketing’s case, the experience—viable. (We might call it an MVE.) Daniel Wellington didn’t engage several influencers to test minimum viability, nor did it hire a celebrity. It tried one (or perhaps a handful of influencers) to test whether an experience served to travel enthusiasts would prove them a viable audience for its watches.
Those “MVE” tests for each Tributary run for a short while—with Instagram, it could be as short as a few days—then your team reviews the results and tweaks your program until you are happy with the outcomes. This may sound like a lot of work, yet the Agile process of iterative testing and improving allows high-performing brands to get better results quicker and with less work. In fact, the Salesforce research shows high-performing marketing organizations are 10X more likely to be using Agile methods in planning and executing their marketing efforts.