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By: Carina Duffy on February 17th, 2017

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25 Expert Tips for Better Agile Marketing

marketing

Agile marketing, at it’s simplest, is when you apply the principles of the Agile software development methodology to marketing.

But what does that really mean? And what does that look like in the real world?

At IMPACT, we’ve adopted the agile approach over the last 6 months, and it has changed the way we do almost everything. It has improved our internal processes as well as our client relationships and transparency.

We are so enthusiastic about agile marketing that we put together this list of 25 tips from top experts on how to do better agile marketing at your organization:

1. Where to Start

“The first step toward incorporating an agile approach into content marketing is to think about topics that help a specific buyer persona make decisions about product offerings. Start answering real world questions like:

      • How do you keep your costs competitive?
      • Do you meet detailed and custom requests?
      • How does your offer help solve a problem in your buyer’s job function?”

- Dechay Watts

2. Start Small

“Start small, with a group of 4-7 marketers, and make sure that everyone understands agile marketing and is excited about trying out agile as a methodology.

Also, make sure that everyone is trained in the basics, and comfortable using the tools. Get a success under your belt, and then build on it. Have realistic expectations.

Some people hear agile, and they think speed — that magically, in the first iteration, marketers are going to get twice as much done in a given period of time. That’s unlikely to happen your first time out — whenever you learn something new, it can be awkward at first. I’d focus on the quality of the results, and the learnings, more than the speed.”

- Jim Ewel

3. Just Jump In!

“Just jump into it. There is no right or wrong way when you talk about adapting agile to a marketing department. Start with 2 week sprints, but be willing to change those.

Encourage team members to speak up if something is not working for them or if they see a better way to do something. It is a constant process of improvement and will only work if all members have buy-in.”

- Mike McKinnon

4. Be Responsive

“Annual planning is important for setting budgets and developing strategy. However, marketing needs to be more flexible than they have been in the past. Strategy and tactics need to be able to change and marketers need to be more responsive than before.”

- Mark Verone

5. Think Outline, Not Campaign

“Think “outline,” not “campaign.” If you chart your campaign in such detail that it’s unalterable, you run the risk of being pinned down when something unexpected arises.”

- Jayson DeMers

6. Don’t Underestimate the Commitment Needed

“Probably the thorniest real-world issue with adopting agile marketing is that it's easy to underestimate the magnitude of the behavioral and cultural changes required to make that transformation.

The spirit of agile, more so than specific practices, takes time to be absorbed into an organization's bloodstream. Management must be committed to the change and be prepared to nurture it for years.”

- Scott Brinker

7. Keep Your Backlog in Check

“However long it takes, make sure you spend the time to produce a solid backlog. Steer clear of the bad and ugly versions, or you’ll risk hobbling your Agile marketing team’s effectiveness.”

- Andrea Fryrear

8. Increase the Frequency of Good Decision Making

“The key to maximizing marketing’s impact lies in increasing the frequency of good decision-making. The best returns come not from a single decision around marketing mix made once per year, or even once per quarter, but from thousands of small optimization decisions made all year long by our extended teams.”

- Jennifer Zeszut

9. Build a Great Agile Marketing Team

“The key to agile being a great experience is having a fantastic team. A lousy team will just feel a bit like torture and may even disintegrate before you get to the finish line. But a great team can move mountains and maybe even get a blockbuster program launched in record time and could even boost your relationship with your colleagues.”

- Ellen Valentine

10. Share Your Results With Management

“In many cases, there are entrepreneurial marketers in the enterprise (mid-management or lower) who have embraced agile and who have experienced firsthand the value of the approach.

Ultimately, though, they must share their results up their management chain to facilitate more general adoption and scale. Unfortunately, doing so requires a significant shift in mindset for executive management and it’s a common failure point.”

- Roland Smart

11. Evaluate Successes

“As with all types of marketing, it’s important to evaluate each agile technique you employ to know what works and what doesn’t. Experts recommend companies to adopt the Scrum methodology to make agile marketing more effective.

Scrum principles tell marketers to plan, implement, review, and evaluate an agile sprint in retrospective. The agile marketing team should regularly meet to complete these steps. Evaluation in this way is important in not wasting time and money when using agile techniques in real time.”

- Christopher Jan Benitez

12. It’s an Art and a Science

“The art comes first as marketing is, and should always be, a “taste making” function of a business. The refinement and pivots are supported by science. The secret for me has always been to move fast out of the gate. Once you and your team are up and running, it’s virtually impossible to define where the science and art start and stop. It’s truly a symbiotic relationship.”

- Jascha Kaykas-Wolff

13. It’s More Than a Process

“You can just put the process in place and get the benefits. No. Agile marketing is more than a process. It requires having the right focus, team, and culture to sustain it. It has to be actively managed; you can’t just adopt the methodology. Companies should treat this as an operating system.”

- Barre Hardy

14. Think Like a Scientist

“Think like a scientist. Generate new hypotheses and find rapid, low cost ways to test new ideas. This is where the breakthroughs come from.”

- Frank Days

15. G.I.V.E.

“True leaders find innovative ways to ‘give’ their teams the tools and environment they need to succeed. The combination of Agile Marketing, solid leadership and a GIVE-ing approach creates just that environment where teams can Grow, Innovate, have Visibility into their work and feel the Energy and enthusiasm to function at a highly sustainable level for months at a time.”

- Steve Gilbert

16. Fail Fast

"It's OK to fail. It's about failing fast, adjusting to that and then moving on." 

- Dave Panek

17. Integrate Agile with Traditional

“Marketers set themselves up for success when they integrate their agile practices with more traditional research, planning, and strategy practices.”

- Roland Smart

18. Cross-Functional Teams

“Your customers don’t care about your org charts - why should you? Build your teams based on what users need.”

- Jonathon Colman

19. Technology and Tools

“If the tool is around a process, I make sure we have adopted the process with a simple solution before we use technology. For agile process tools that can be using a paper-based approach with physical tasks boards. Going digital too early can cause the team to get caught up in the configuration rather than building the rhythm needed to adopt a new process.”

- Jeff Julian

20. Skills to Learn

“Digital disruption has influenced marketing, we need a lot of new skills in order to be effective, just to run marketing. Plus, digital disruption is affecting how companies deliver services to clients. Marketers need to stay up to date with what’s happening because of digital disruption to their business and marketing. Key skills to learn customer personas, customer journey mapping, and how different customer experiences are needed for creative.”

- John Cass

21. On Spreading the Word

“Fans and friends of Agile, then, need to start attacking the status quo, calming fears of risk, and articulating some very compelling reasons for marketers to “buy” Agile.”

- Andrea Fryrear

22. Break Old Habits

“Adopting an agile methodology — frankly, any agile methodology — forces you to break old patterns and consciously rethink how you’re doing things, not just what you’re doing. A good agile methodology forces you to act differently, as a catalyst for learning to think differently. Only once you’ve broken the stranglehold of existing habits are you free to start inventing new ones.”

- Scott Brinker

23. Change with Markets, Business Goals and Results

“As markets, business goals and results change, so do the strategies and tactics we can recommend. This empowers our team and our clients to work more “in the now” and adapt to the current state of business. Learn more about the benefits of agile inbound marketing.”

- Dechay Watts

24. Jim Ewel - Stick with the Cadence

“Agile Marketing has a cadence, with various activities taking place on a daily, weekly and quarterly basis. The discipline of this cadence helps teams get work done, identify and solve problems quickly, and maintain a balance between tactical execution and strategic planning.”

- Jim Ewel

25. Don’t Boil the Ocean

“First, make sure you have support and buy-in from the top. It is critical that leadership is on board. Second, don’t be overwhelmed by the thought of it and don’t “boil the ocean” — start small. Think about repeatable processes in your organization. How can you make those more efficient? We try break our work down into the “Rule of 3” — anything more than 3 steps is too complicated.”

- Mark Verone

What advice to you have for doing better agile marketing? Let us know in the comments below!

Happy Agile-ing!

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About Carina Duffy

As an Inbound Marketing Consultant for IMPACT, Carina enjoys helping clients implement marketing strategies that drive growth for their organizations. Her background in design and branding allows her to empower clients to communicate their brand cohesively across all platforms. When she's not in the office, you'll probably find her playing disc golf, shredding the gnar at Mt. Snow, settling Catan with friends, or making homemade ice cream in her Kitchen-Aid.

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