Are You Game for Agile Marketing?

How gaming prepared me for an Agile attitude.

I grew up in the video game heyday – the very start of kids spending hundreds of hours trying to master the controls, level up, and beat the game. (Oh, and yes, we did blow into the cartridge – it helped, I swear.) To this day I can still mime the exact hand movements needed to dodge those flying fish, rush the hammer-throwing turtles, and save the princess.

Why am I taking a trip down my gaming-geek memory lane? I’ve been thinking about trial and error. It’s how we learned to approach a problem in games. Like the fabled expression, “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” The Gamer Mentality (explained here and here) is a well-studied concept described in the book Super Better by Jane McGonigal. She  argues that, “we can use the same psychological strengths we display when we play games to confront real-life challenges, whether it’s illness, injury, or just changing our habits for the better.”

This all ties into my real job now. In marketing, we’re seeing a radical shift in speed and how marketing is done. Marketers are going from the dust covered binders with one, three and five-year marketing plans to a faster, more iterative process, informed by experience and learning called agile marketing.

CMG’s Agile for Marketing is a mindset and methodology that transforms cultures and operations so you can execute more efficiently, champion the customer, and achieve better performance through a data-driven, iterative approach. It drives performance though four key elements:

  • Flexible planning: Adapting to change versus following a plan allows marketers to adjust based on insights and learning
  • Customer-Driven Engagement: Prioritizing the needs of the customers, their personas, and buying journeys
  • Empowered and Accountable Teams: Teams work together to solve problems, deliver successful outcomes, and improve overall performance
  • Iterative Learning Cycles: Active work cycles focus on experimentation, learning, and adjustment

Or in another way to look at it:  Boil it down and it means that we embrace our inner gamer for a familiar cycle:

  • Try > fail
  • Try again > fail > learn
  • Try again > improve > learn (repeat as needed)
  • Try again > level up!

In games, we learn to embody our hero. In marketing, we should learn to embody the customer. In both, we need to know these characters inside and out because they are at the center of our world. We are flexible because we never know where the next tube will take us. We have absolute clarity on our objectives which allow us to be empowered – and also accountable. The goal is to learn and iterate and if you fail, to fail quickly.

As described in this recent article, Anne Dwane, Partner and co-founder of GSV Acceleration says, “When you play games you feel like your best self. You’re hopeful, empowered, and strategic in your ability to turn anyone into an ally.” She outlines three psychological strengths that develop while playing games. They are:

  • The ability to focus your attention, and therefore your thoughts and feelings
  • The power to turn anyone into a potential ally to help you meet your goal
  • The natural capacity to motivate yourself and super-charge your heroic qualities, like willpower, compassion, and determination

Interestingly enough, these are also the attributes we seek to encourage when working with our clients to implement our Agile for Marketing. We see the biggest step-change in clients who embody their hero, hyper focus on their goal, and leverage the skills of empowered players (oneself and teams). This is also why we focus our implementations on both the methodology and the mindset needed for high functioning agile marketing teams to grow and succeed.

While my video games have evolved over the years, my Gamer Mentality hasn’t. And while I still hate to hear, “This isn’t the princess you’re looking for” or worse, “Game over” I will never stop trying new things to keep learning and get to my goal. Level up!


CMG Team Photos_ Cropped for Web_0017_Lorra2.1LoGo is a manager and certified scrum master at CMG. A self-described marketing geek, she is a marketing and communications strategist and facilitator driven to help companies translate business objectives into execution and results.