You don’t need to restructure the company to use Agile Marketing for your next project.
Agile Marketing is a way of structuring workflow that started in Agile software development. Agile is a structured way of working that keeps projects on track, and produces quality results. As a marketer, Agile makes managing your people, and your team, much easier.
The “easy Agile Marketing” approach I’m discussing here is easy to try on your next project. It’s is the equivalent of taking a foam surfboard out at Waikiki. Have fun and surf your first wave.
Step 1. Pick a project for Agile Marketing
Start small and use Agile on a specific project that is easily defined by a “deliverable” and “date that it’s delivered.” The size of your projects can be big or small – what’s important is to choose what can be completed every week or every two weeks. This timeframe is called a “sprint,” and it has a very clear endpoint.
To get started, choose a type of project you have done previously, and get it done (this time) in an agile way. For example:
1. New white paper or e-book
2. This year’s annual report
3. A customer experience event
4. Redesign the website
5. Marketing campaign to a specific segment
By starting with one project, you can incorporate Agile Marketing without hiring coaches or explaining to the entire Board that you want to go Agile.
Step 2. Talk about the Agile Marketing project
You might think everyone on the team has shares the same understanding about the project, but don’t assume. Talk about the desired outcome. Have the team agree to a short (1, 2 or 3 sentence) story about the project, who it’s for and why it’s important to that person or organization.
Step 2. Be the coach, lead from behind
The people on the team are likely obvious to you. You’ve done this type of project before and know who was involved.
Agile Marketing asks you, as the team leader, to give coaching, instead of authoritative orders.
assign “mini projects” to the team and appoint a “decision person”
name the team up-front, don’t pull people in mid-project
never undercut or second-guess the “decision person” and, instead, provide guidance and assistance
keep the focus on the team and support them in resolving conflicts and solving problems, instead of singling out an individual
avoid the temptation to “manage by exception” and breaking the agile process “just this time”
If you adopt Agile Marketing, as the team leader, you will be constantly challenged to not fall into old habits, and to support your team in developing new habits.
Step 3. Create short deadlines, in sprints
The agile term “sprints” implies some mad dash for a finish line, with all-nighters and coffee. It’s not that, it is simply a short, defined timeframe.
Divide the project into phases that have a clear deliverable. For example, “complete wireframe” or “draft 1.” With the team, write down all the project phases for the project. How many “sprints” are in the project plan?
Display the project plan, visually “calling out” each sprint, where it can be seen by everyone on the team. This can be a physical place, such as a wall in your office, or an online project board such as Trello.
Step 4. Meet every day
Hold a 15 minute meeting every morning. Come in, call in, Facebook message. Everybody checks in at a defined time every morning. Each person in the circle (or alphabetically), says:
1. What I got done yesterday
2. What I want to accomplish today
3. Where I need help or have a block
There is no getting comfortable at these meetings. So no sitting. It’s called a “stand up meeting.”
Can’t do these every day? Try 4 days a week. Or Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Step 5. “Not my job” becomes “everyone’s job”
During the sprint, the entire team works towards the goal of each sprint. Encourage cross-functional work.
Try to coach people to not fall into their “way it’s always been done” specialization. Everyone on the team should be expanding their activities outside their traditional comfort zone. Bob will do part of Jane’s traditional “job.”
Everyone should work together to complete the deliverable for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd sprint. Now the team is getting nimbler.
Step 6. Everyone knows everything, always
Agile requires radical transparency. Everyone on the team publicly shares what they are doing, and where they “are” in the project. You can see the project’s progress without asking anyone. Your boss can see the project’s progress without asking anyone.
How does this happen? Everyone posts their tasks as “done,” “in progress” and “soon” for the whole world to see.
These can be publicly posted on the wall in your office, with sticky notes. Or, you can use the simplest online “done/in-progress/soon” tools, like a Trello board.
Step 7: After each sprint, reassess the plan
When a spring is finished, have the team look at progress. Ask questions such as:
- What went well and what didn’t?
- Does this work for our user or customer?
- Have we learned something that changes our plan?
- Do we have feedback? Can we incorporate this into the next sprint?
Results: A better team
Your team is now coached, not dictated to. Your team is now a unit, not individuals. Your team is learning new skills and are starting to “cover” each other’s skill sets.
Everyone, especially you, knows what everyone is doing. If someone isn’t pulling their weight, it shows up quickly to the team.
Now your team has a way to “manage” deadlines, not just watch them pass by.
Results: A better project
Each deliverable in the project now reflects the thinking of several smart people, not one. Everyone has had a part in the success of each phase. When you’re done with each sprint, celebrate small. And when you’re done with the project, celebrate memorably.
Agile Marketing Tools
Here are 2 easy-to-use tools that can support your first Agile Marketing project: