How to work smarter with agile marketing
Last week my colleague Andrew, our User Experience Developer, spoke at Interactive Minds on the topic of Agile Marketing Unpacked.
You might be wondering why the meerkat? Well, we like to think of meerkats as agile because they’re nimble and able to react quickly to change, but they’re not moving at breakneck speed. Just as importantly they have a team of well-coordinated meerkats behind them.
The interesting thing about the agile mindset is that most marketers are intrinsically already agile. We’re highly responsive to the market, plus we make decisions and execute on them quickly.
But we can always do better, which is why I want to share some key takeaways from Agile Marketing Unpacked to help you and your marketing team become more agile.
What are we trying to do with agile?
Agile is the modern methodology for successfully building things. Although it traditionally stems from the developer space, we can apply the same mindset to our work in marketing.
The literal meaning of the word agile is to be able to move quickly and easily. Rather than over planning far into the future we need to work towards solving the immediate and real problem. It’s not about getting the planning right, it’s about getting the execution right.
It’s important that your team is coordinated around the same goal which should be the solution to your immediate problem. This is at the very core of agile, and as a bonus, it generally leads to happier people.
Key agile principles to start using in your marketing teams
- Iterate – This means to break your work into smaller, free-standing units of work. Our developer friends call this a sprint and it should produce valuable work. The benefits of sprinting is that the short timeframes allow your team to gather data on market response. The idea is to improve, revise and sprint again.
- Collaborate across teams – Every team should be cross-functional and working towards the same goal regardless of their role. A good way to bring the team together is to have daily standup meetings, that are brief and cover off any roadblocks.
- Embrace change – We all know change is inevitable, but it’s human nature to try and avoid it. Agile reverses this because the ability to respond quickly to your market is key to being competitive.
- Trust your people – Focus on people over processes. Make sure your team has the authority they deserve and the tools they need to get the job done. The underlying principle of agile is the idea that most people are great at their job. So trust them to get the work done.
How to build an agile team
The first thing to get straight is that the traditional top-down delegation of work is inverted. Because team members understand how long it takes to get something done, they’re the best people to estimate time frames. In an agile framework, traditional roles such as Project Manager aren’t required. The team is held accountable to complete their work within the sprint.
The benefit of working like this is that needless approvals and review processes are cut, which frees people up to spend time getting work done.
To build an agile team you need to fulfill some core roles (from Scrum, a popular agile methodology):
- Product Owner – Champions the product goals and understands the market. Essentially this person is your client – whoever pays for the work.
- Scrum Master – Facilitates implementation of the agile processes such as sprints and standups. They defend against common pitfalls.
- Product Team – Is cross-functional and self-organising. This team formulates a sprint from work tasks and take ownership of the work to be done.
It’s important to have visibility of what everyone is working on to facilitate open, transparent communication and accountability.
Agile marketing at Vision6
We’ve started to implement agile marketing by bringing our marketing team into product development, which has its own ‘flavour’ of agile.
We may have taken our first sprint a little bit too literally…
The benefit of this is that our developers are now able to use the marketing team’s deep understanding of our customer and market, helping us identify what our customers’ needs are in the early stages of our agile product development process.
By being involved from the beginning, all of our marketing communications are well-aligned with the purpose behind new features. And as we’re now involved in daily standup meetings, we gain a clearer understanding of the product status.
Get started with agile
Agile is a mindset that continues to revolutionise how we work. Take what you need from these agile principles – they can be moulded to suit your business’s needs.
Agile requires cultural change, and this can take time. Start small by building up your team, embracing the agile mindset and celebrating the successes, and soon enough you’ll see the value of happier people working smarter together.