3 Huge Benefits for CMO’s who adopt Agile Marketing

 

Hey, I’m a CMO, I get it. We’ve got a lot to stay on top of:  blogs, events, customer journeys, Account Based Marketing, SEO, SEM, Content Marketing, Relationship Marketing, Advocate Marketing, Influencer Marketing, Mojo Marketing, branding, pricing, customer experience, user experience… we all feel the pain. And it keeps on growing.  Look at my LinkedIn skills section. It looks like a bowl of alphabet soup! (Oh, about the Mojo Marketing, don’t worry. There is no such thing as Mojo Marketing… yet!)

So here comes another thing: Agile Marketing.  Is it a fad or here to stay?   I don’t think I have room for one more thing.  But, maybe this can actually benefit me and my team.

Agile marketing works for me.   In the software business, product life cycles have shrunk from annual to semi-annual to daily. Yes, a new release every day!  How can a one year marketing plan forecast all the change that will happen in a year?  I bet your life isn’t much different.  Cycles are shorter, change is happening quicker.  Agile helps me to adjust to changes that are part of my life.

Agile Marketing was born only four years ago at Sprint Zero  and although it’s gaining traction, Agile still isn’t mainstream.  The  Wrike report: How Marketers Get things done: The State of Agile marketing in 2016 said over 70% of marketers are using some agile techniques but only 14% followed the most basic forms of Agile Marketing . That number jibes with meFew are really practicing Agile Marketing.  But there’s a definite upsurge of late.   Of the 70% that claim to use some Agile, 55% just started during the last six months!

So, Agile is catching on.  And as an early adopter let me share with you my top three reasons you should get on board the Agile Marketing train.

  1. Focus

Agile keeps us focused on important projects.  Most of us will drop the important projects for the most urgent ones.  We get thrown off track by last-minute requests like:

  • The CEO has a great new idea to drive more leads and new sales.
  • Sales needs a new tool, which need to be done, well, yesterday.
  • New lists are required for a current campaign.
  • There’s a fire ablaze at ______.

Last minute and urgent requests will always be part of my life, but I don’t have to let them drive my priorities.

With Agile, you work in sprints lasting one to four weeks.  On day one, all of our priorities for the coming sprint are already fully mapped out. And while we don’t ignore urgent requests, since we assume they will arise, we reserve large chunks of time for our most important priorities. If during the sprint, urgent requests can be accommodated, we complete them during the sprint, but if not, they wait to be prioritized to the next sprint.

And that brings me to the next benefit to Agile Marketing:

  1. Transparency

I’ve got great relationships with our friends in sales, operations and product development. And it’s easy to all love each other when things are going well.

But what about those other times when the “you know what” hits the fan?  Ever heard,“What’s marketing doing?” or “These leads are crap.”  I can’t promise you will never hear it again.  But Agile goes a long way to help bring about more harmony in good times and bad.

Agile Marketing projects are always public – they are literally on the wall for everyone and anyone to see.  Everyone can see exactly what marketing is working on at any given time.  This saves time and improves communication.   This eliminates much of the negative energy that can exist between departments.

There is never a question of what marketing is working on. Instead we invest time in important discussions of product, strategy and tactics.  And we discuss what should be in the next Sprint. (Potential projects for the next Sprint are called the Backlog).  This productive talk leads us to more quickly reaching our mutual goals.

So now to the third benefit of Agile.

  1. Agilityhurdler

I know, “duh.” It’s called Agile Marketing.

Agility is not a lack of planning but the ability to change gears quickly when opportunities change.  Agility doesn’t mean that I don’t have an annual or quarterly plan.   Agile marketing can work within the corporate planning process.  Agile allows me to plan for the unexpected.

Unplanned events can include:

  • Change in corporate strategy
  • Change in the competitive landscape
  • A sudden upturn/downturn in business
  • Changes in partners
  • Political changes
  • Economic changes
  • The loss of an employee

Agile gives me a way to manage these and other changes, because we plan, sprint and review all within a short period of time.  When things change, what could be a large hit to productivity and effectiveness is now simply a zig and zag for our team.

CMO’s like us are too busy not to have a method of managing change.  Agile Marketing allows us to do just that.  We gain more focus, transparency and agility through practicing Agile Marketing.

Want to learn more about my Agile Marketing journey? Check out my interview on the Marketing Agility Podcast

Thanks for reading.  Please honor me with your comments.

8 thoughts on “3 Huge Benefits for CMO’s who adopt Agile Marketing

  1. Great Blog, Scott!
    Even without having officially adopting Agile Marketing, it’s apparent that I have adopted some of the tactics over the past few years. I love the idea of the public board! With all of the aspects involved in B2B marketing today, it’s easy to get anxiety over all the tasks on the to-do list. Prioritizing is a necessity every day (I wouldn’t survive without my checklists!), and setting aside chunks of time during sprints for those fire-drills is an awesome tip.

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    1. Liz, Great to hear from you and thanks for your comment! I hope you had a great summer. The new challenges and opportunities in marketing pushes us to constantly learn, grow and manage more effectively. Marketers have the potential to make a substantial contribution to the success of the organization like never before! I look forward to seeing you too in the near future.

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  2. Scott,

    It was a great conversation. I still wonder what it is going to for Agile to become more broadly adopted by marketers. Right now it seems most about smaller companies and former techies migrating to marketing.

    Frank

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    1. People and organizations typically do not change until some catastrophic event causes that change. I believe that there will be a tipping point, I’m not sure when, that will push companies to adopt some form of agile in order to compete effectively.

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  3. I have found basic agile marketing concepts can also be very effective in other areas- it has been very helpful for organizing complex projects and finishing on or ahead of schedule. Transparency helps the whole team and simplifies communication

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  4. Great post Scott. Highlighting the issue of transparency is important, without agreement across stakeholders on what marketing should be working on, there’s no chance of concentrating on the tasks that produce the most value for companies.

    Like

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