Agile development isn’t just for the tech crowd — marketers are responding to evolving conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic with agile marketing. Here are 10 tips to help unite your teams around common goals, prioritize high-value initiatives and continuously refine emergent strategies.

  1. Launch into it. Be cautious, but don’t let that caution paralyze you. We’re all used to delivering precise, finely calibrated solutions. But, in a crisis environment where the target is constantly moving, that precision isn’t possible. Dive in and adjust the strategy as conditions change.
  2. Create action teams — and trust them. Set up teams to tackle emerging challenges, establishing transformative solutions as the standard for success. Give them decision-making ability and let them loose. Empower and support — and stay tightly engaged — but don’t get in their way.
  3. Change what’s easily changeable. Discard what isn’t essential. Examine all efforts and triage, without agonizing or overthinking individual initiatives. If you can easily redirect an effort, take a moment to assess and make the change.
  4. Reconfigure your resources. In an environment that changes by the hour, the capability to produce swiftly and accurately is even more vital. Institute daily standup meetings, shift priorities, automate where possible and redeploy employees to respond to the peaks and valleys. This requires flexibility and diligence from team members who will now work on efforts outside their comfort zones.
  5. Focus on client and community needs, not company needs. We’re all apprehensive about how we’ll weather this storm — and it’s tempting to let that drive our work. Prioritize your client needs over the goals your team must achieve to feel successful right now. Clients will remember companies that weren’t self-serving in a time of crisis.
  6. Gut check the message. Anyone else cringe at some of the tone-deaf marketing messages during the heart of the crisis? I saw a few social posts and emails from cruise ship companies offering deals for the summer, even as most of the world was moving into lockdown. It felt ill-timed — and it focused on their own needs (quick capital infusion) above those of their customers. Consider the collective experience of people around the globe and be sure the message matches the tone.
  7. Be creative and innovative. Now is a good time to take some big swings; thought leaders are being developed in real time. (I know I’ve followed dozens of new people recently in healthcare, crisis response and science.) Those big, emerging challenges…is there a fresh way to look at them?
  8. Evaluate and adjust without judgement. We're seeing a mix of deliberate strategy (a process of annual strategic thinking/planning) and emergent strategy (strategy as a continuous process of testing/learning). The need to make frequent course corrections is completely natural right now. Trust your action teams to make the best decisions with the information available, and then adjust without judgement when conditions shift.
  9. Develop tools and processes to stay in sync. Has your company slayed the transition to remote working arrangements? If not, what tools do you need to implement to make the transition successful? Set up meetings, brainstorm tech solutions, strategize, share documents and even interview virtually – those are just some ideas to start.
  10. Be empathetic and transparent, internally and externally. Many of us are feeling a lack of control in the face of a force larger than us all. (And, if anyone is like me, they absolutely hate this feeling.) One way we can all come together is through radical empathy and transparency. In times like these, we don’t have all the answers... and that’s okay. More than ever, we can really listen to varied perspectives and show bold but humble leadership. When we’re authentic with each other in the face of a crisis, we can truly unite as one team to overcome it.


As indicators and best practices for critical infrastructure and COVID-19 response evolve, follow our thought leaders in BenchMark Brief. 

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Melissa Lavin is a principal and director of Corporate Marketing at Burns & McDonnell, leading a team of diverse marketing communications professionals. She develops and executes global strategies that create brand awareness, enhance reputation and align with sales goals.