What is Agile Marketing?
Adding efficiency and a sustainable pace to your content marketing efforts while retaining your aim on the customer’s experience.
Let’s face it, coordinating marketing efforts with any size of team is difficult. We have the old way of doing things paired with the new things we are doing and it just isn’t working as we hoped. Add in the shift towards customer-centered content marketing and social media and you have started to build yourself an effort house of cards.
Radical Shifts Have Happened In Other Departments
If you are old enough to remember the world without cell phones and the Internet, then you probably remember a time when very few people chose the career of software developer. Over the last 20 years it has become one of the best career paths you can choose and the demand continues to grow year after year.
During that growth, thought leaders who focus on application development lifecycle started to borrow lean principles from manufacturing to develop new techniques for developing applications that we refer to today as agile. These agile teams help organizations plan better, estimate resources and releases with real measurable data, and identify key issues through team interactions. Looking back we see that agile has been as important to software development as the Internet and mobile devices.
Marketing Teams Are Not So Different
A modern marketing team is less like Mad Men and more like a software development team. We have a lot of items that need to be developed, target users of the content, and teams that can be developed to work together instead of silos. We face the same problems, we should look at their solution.
There are several differences between modern marketing teams and software development teams as well. One of the key differences are the silos we group our marketers in are by team roles. We have the Social Media Specialist, XYZ Marketing Manager, Content Strategy Professional, Content Writer, and the list goes on and on. In smaller teams, which the majority of marketing departments are in, the roles can become far too focused in one area.
This is exactly how most IT teams were organized when I started writing software in the 90s. We had the database developers, systems analysts, architects, programmers, interface developers, and so on. Some of these roles still exists on larger teams and for good reason, but when they are on agile teams, they are all software developers. We are brought together because of our ability to work together. It is the software equivalent of finishing each other’s sentences.
As marketing teams, we need to see that we are not creating widgets like an assembly line where we are passing it down the line and bolting on parts. We have to be ability to tackle more than one area, to make sure no one on the team, whether they leave or have to take leave, can stop the construction and release of content.
Jeff's New Book - Agile Marketing
by Jeff Julian
Content Marketing, when viewed with the original intent of the phrase based on practitioners who have seen success with the model, has many core aspects that align with the Agile process. Since the launch of his online community in 2003, Jeff taught individuals and organizations how to use Agile planning tools to break up work, prioritize ideas, and deliver great posts based on the desires of the audience.
In this book, Jeff will show you how to adopt agile techniques and build up the long-term endurance you need for your Content Marketing efforts.
I want to end this section with some bullet points you can take back and think about if you are considering an agile marketing approach. These are my top 5 reasons why I believe agile marketing can succeed by adopting and tuning the processes for their team:
- Team Unity – The breaking down of internal walls for your department will help enrich your teams experience and help create a group of highly adaptive Content Developers who can do more when you allow them to learn and give them the tools needed to succeed.
- Measurable Deliverables – For teams to succeed on delivering content and repeat the process week after week, they need the ability to define the size of the work at hand. Managers and Content Owners also need the ability to hold the team accountable to their estimates so they can have confidence in the delivery timeframes when they communicate a status to the stakeholders. The time boxes in agile are the vehicle for delivering the accountability and the group based estimates are the team’s voice with the scope.
- Forward Thinking – Putting a high emphasis on prioritization of the Content Backlog and listening for the changes in the organization will allow the team to start preparing the way for larger organizational initiatives.
- Sustainable Pace – Burnout can be caused by going too fast or not going fast enough. We need to allow Content Developers to produce at a pace that they can sustain over a long period of time. Agile practices allow this pace to be defined and will expose the team members who need to be encouraged and/or educated. It will also show you who the next generation leaders are.
- Audience Centered – With our customers, influencers, fans, and other members of our audience at the center of every piece of content we develop, we have a higher probability of being successful in delivering content assets that have greater value.
We have three key roles in the Agile Marketing team: Content Developers, Content Owner, and the ScrumMaster. Each play a very important role in the process.
Here are descriptions of their roles when defining Content Items:
- Content Developers – Generate ideas, ask questions about the goals and ways we plan to provide value, and provide a level of effort to the creation of the Content Item.
- Content Owner – Provide insight to the audience we are reaching, determine the priority of the items we have in the Content Backlog, and answer any questions the team has about the Content Item.
- ScrumMaster – Facilitate the planning meetings, ensure each member of the team is performing the roles assigned, removing any roadblocks or issues that come up, and work with the Content Owner to ensure the Content Backlog is being groomed as new items are created or organizational shifts occur.
How can AJi help me?
As you get started, we would love to work side-by-side with your team to make sure you have an advocate for your efforts. At AJi, we have developed a few ways that we can help. Here are some engagements that might work for your team:
- Agile Overview and Assessment – We can work with your leaders and team to walk through what an agile team is and how your team can get started.
- Agile Planning Workshop – We have developed a full-day workshop we offer in private or public form, based on your needs. This workshop is a hands on demonstration of each key tenant of Agile Marketing led by one of our agile experts with years of practical experience.
- Ongoing Team Mentoring – We can be a member of your team for a short period of time to make sure you have the process down. As you become comfortable with the process and procedures, we will roll off the team and take an advisory role to ensure you have your questions answered as they arise.
Resources - Principles
- A Case for Agile Marketing – Beyond Software Development
- Is good content from other teams something from a dream?
- 5 Ways To Help You Get Started With Agile Content Marketing
- Agile Marketing Best Practices - Keep a Catalog of Tasks and Estimates
- 5 Responsibilities of a Content Owner
- My Day is Different Than Yours - Estimating Tips
- Shuffle Up and Deal - Getting Your Estimates in Content Marketing
- Content Marketing is an Endurance Sport
- What is a Sprint and is it Right for My Agile Marketing Team?
- 4 Things Agile Marketing Does Not Guarantee
Resources - Personas
Resources - Content Planning
- Develop Your Content Marketing Playbook - What is a Content Backlog?
- What is a Content Item?
- Are You Focused On Providing Value To Your Audience?
- Are you creating yesterday’s content today? - Content Ownership Lessons
- Review your content marketing mission with your corporate stakeholders
- Everyone Should Estimate, Including Marketers
- Develop A Content Mission Statement
- Physical or Digital Scrum Boards
- 8 Effective Meetings for Agile Marketing Teams
- Stacking the Cards – What to Expect in a Content Backlog Grooming Meeting