What is agile marketing? It’s finding opportunity and potential in change, being responsive instead of reactive, and doing the right work at the right time.

Watch our Campfire Session Agile Marketing for Uncertain Times. Or read below for key takeaways from our webinar event!

On 7/17/20, Mike and Stephen introduced us to agile marketing experts:

  • Kira Caban, Director of Public Relations for Protenus, a firm dedicated to developing insightful solutions that remove barriers to the efficient, safe and effective delivery of patient care.
  • Colin Hung, Chief Marketing Officer and Editor of HITMC and an award winning marketing leader with more than two decades of health care experience. He is also the cofounder of HCLER, a popular health care community that has gathered on Twitter every Tuesday night for the last eight years to discuss the latest trends and challenges in health care.

The bones of agile marketing and its overall methodology and philosophy were discussed, including:

  • Best practices in agile marketing
  • Applying an agile mindset to your planning and strategy
  • How to encourage your team to be more agile

Why is agile marketing trending in health care?

  • Your consumer has changed and how you connect and motivate them must change too. Their wants, needs, desires and thinking about their health care have all drastically changed from what they were pre-COVID. And how you connect with them needs to be as agile as their changing requirements from you. (Adapting to your changing audiences is something we’ve researched and shared in a previous Campfire Session, Deep Dive: COVID-era Patient Personas.
  • There is opportunity in crisis. The crises we are experiencing right now—COVID-19, an economic downturn and a historic time of civil unrest—can lead to breakthroughs, beneficial changes in thinking and operating, as well as growth.
  • Being responsive beats being reactive. A quote from a CMS Wire article sums it up.
What the heck is agile marketing? 

Kira shared: “For me, when I explain it to friends not familiar with that concept, I say it’s not about being reactive where you’re shooting from the hip all the time. You still have a plan, you still have a strategy in place for the year. Agile marketing allows you to pivot and respond appropriately given the current environment and really focus on what your customer needs.”

One definition of agile marketing, includes:

  • Teams identify and focus their collective efforts on high-value projects
  • Complete those projects cooperatively
  • Measure their impact
  • Continuously and incrementally improve results over time

Agile marketing best practices include: 

1. Aligning with leadership and set team expectations

2. Analyzing data to identify opportunities

3. Designing and prioritizing tests

4. Running tests

5. Iterating the idea based on results

Essentials of agile marketing:

1. Choose metrics that matter

2. Define goals and pace

3. Generate hypotheses

4. Small bets vs. putting in all the chips

5. Test and analyze

6. Retrospective and repeat

How do we adapt an agile marketing mindset?

According to Colin: “Agile—whether you’re a believer or not, you are probably practicing a lot of it right now because of all the changes you’ve had to make to your business, your approach to marketing and your own personal life.”

Kira added: “It’s being able to be quick on your feet and responsive and not always be so focused on: 

  • what you originally planned 
  • the process that is in place 
  • the time and effort you’ve put into something 

Because there is always going to be something that comes up and I think when you can adopt that mindset, it alleviates a little bit of the stress because you know you can pivot and respond accordingly.” 

Colin: “An agile mindset to me means being very open, recognizing that a lot of what you do is not actually within your control in terms of prioritization and that you really should revisit your priorities much more frequently than we traditionally do in a marketing sense. In marketing we look at six to twelve month time horizons. But in a situation like we find ourselves in right now, that would be deadly.”


  • Your messaging has to be different
  • The way you market has to be different
  • The way you connect with your audience has to be different
  • You must be very, very flexible
  • Recognize the external input that you need to synthesize to figure out what your priorities should be
  • Use collective prioritization as a way to manage political sensitivities that can get in the way of success (watch this entire Campfire Session to hear Colin’s approach to this)
  • Constantly measure and go back to setting the right goals and looking at what you are actively achieving and where you may be missing the mark
  • Leverage constraints and turn them into opportunities
  • Instead of working and measuring quarterly efforts, think about affecting and measuring change using four to six week efforts
  • Continually tweak, always focused on the outcome, the end user or the patient


During the session Colin brought to our attention something just tweeted by a friend:

“The days of overthinking are gone.” Stephen added to that: “The days of underthinking are gone as well.”

We’re in this together

As we think about this time we’re in, now more than ever, we need ideas, insights, and community. We hope our Campfire Sessions are providing the conversations you are craving about the issues and opportunities facing your health care organization and its leaders.

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