Agile Marketing in B2B


Agile marketing increasingly is being recognized as a powerful key to content effectiveness. Buyer interest and trends can change in the blink of an eye, in particular as social and other media drive the news. Breaking news creates windows of opportunities, but only if marketers are quick and smart enough to take advantage of them.

On topic of agile marketing is what some have called newsjacking, which means responding quickly to news items of the day. More than just quickness for its own sake, the increased focus on what customers are interested in greatly improves content relevance.

And did I forget to say it can produce stupendous ROI results? It can produce stupendous ROI results!

I’m proud to say my latest efforts in this area on behalf of PwC have been recognized by ITSMA with its highest honor, the diamond award in its 2016 Marketing Excellence Awards global competition. Below, I’ll explain some of the elements of the winning program.

The quick or the dead

Keeping up to the minute with who’s buying what, matched with what you’re selling, and how you’re connecting and delivering for your customers is a dynamic and fluid challenge. As Financial Services and U.S. Brexit Marketing Leader at PwC here in New York I have a particular interest in rapid-response content creation, in particular how it can benefit our customers in their day-to-day decision making.

But professional service firms often impose inherent drags on marketing response. Internal reviews and multiple approvals have to be adhered to, and design and layout of messages, and distribution via Web, e-mail and social media, consume big chunks time.

That’s a shame, because firms like PwC are well-positioned to offer keen, insightful analysis of breaking financial news—analysis that’s effective only if it’s quick out the door. Think of it as a client calling a very knowledgeable friend to get “their take” on the news. Marketing best practices demand it, but more importantly so do current and prospective clients who have to make rapid decisions based on sometimes complex new regulations often rendered in government speak.

Knowing how the content game is played

We already distribute thoughtful briefs on new regulations, as well as deeper analysis. What we needed was a quick-response campaign platform tied to newsworthy events that we already knew were on the horizon, and that our customers also anticipated.

Consider the U.K.’s June 2016 referendum to eventually leave the European Union. It seemed that Brexit follow-up was always catching people flat-footed, with how-come and what-if analysis that was too uncertain and too late.

But the calendar revealed key dates that would produce news and content opportunities. We knew, for example, the Bank of England would hold a policy meeting on a certain day. We knew the particular date that the UK’s GDP numbers would be released, that the Economic and Financial Affairs Council was meeting in Brussels, and more. From these and other events, we were able to prepare preliminary analysis based on expected news, and get it out the door in two days or less—unheard of in most professional services firms.

The key is not responding to events, but rather anticipating them with compelling marketing content your customers want and need. I’ll give you a single example that turned out great for us, and impressed the ITSMA judges.

A combination of hard work and opportunity

  • Market trigger: We knew that the U.S. Department of Labor planned to release details of a new trading law on April 6, 2016. It was a complex revision of previous regulations that changed how broker-dealers, investment advisers, insurance agents and consultants are compensated when dealing with investment and retirement accounts. A big yawn? Nope … it was and is of keen interest to an immense financial services community.
  • SEM: We launched Google search ads two days prior to the DOL announcement, scheduled to run for two full months. We wanted to own this conversation.
  • Scrum prep: We threw together a five-member client services team with the sole task of tearing apart the anticipated 1,000-page DOL ruling to fully understand what was in it.
  • Thought leadership: Two PwC subject area experts were identified and prepped for press interviews.
  • Media opportunities: In advance, and in anticipation of the announcement, we arranged for interviews on the day of the DOL announcement with The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Reuters, Reuters TV, Bloomberg, CNBC and CNBC Closing Bell. (Not bad for a day’s work!)

And the payoff? Our keyword buy results were among the strongest ever recorded for any PwC paid-search campaign, with the highest ever click-through rates and the lowest bounce rates. And we booked business in the first week of the campaign.

If all this seems daunting, don’t worry. Pick your spots, develop content in advance and think like the folks who are going to consume it. Agile marketing works; moreover, in many industries it can be the rule breaker that makes for outsized competitive success. So roll up your sleeves and make it happen!


2 comments to Agile Marketing in B2B

  • Hi Paul,

    I have a different take on the term agile marketing. The term comes out of the agile dev manifesto from 2001, and its the use of project methodologies to transform marketing. Scrum, Kanban, or even lean could be part of it. Your use of the team is certainly out there, but hopefully in 3-5 years, we’ll all agree its more about thinking about what brings the most value, iterative, and transparency. Rather than the idea that its about moving just faster or quickly. The speed comes from the agreement among the stakeholders what’s most important, and so you generate the most value.

  • John – excellent perception – I studied Lean and Six Sigma and I think this is closer to Lean! Great comment thank you John!!

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