How to Get Started with Agile for Marketing

Three Ways to Organize for Agile

It’s time in our Agile for Marketing (A4M) series to get down to brass tacks – how do you adopt A4M techniques and transform your marketing activities? Based on our own A4M practice as well as research and interviews with dozens of agile marketers – we’ve put together three recommendations for organizing your approach to A4M. As you review these options, remember that adopting agile marketing is going to be a big change for your organization so it’s very important that your team and your leaders support the way in which you decide to approach agile.

Three Ways to Organize Your Agile for Marketing Approach

The following table outlines the ways that marketing teams have organized to operate according to A4M processes. Your choice will depend on your primary objectives as well as the structure of your company and/or marketing team. It may also simply depend on where you think you have the best talent and the best chance of success.

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1. Organizing according to an initiative or strategy may be a good place to start with the A4M approach. You and your team can choose an upcoming product launch or campaign and use it to trial A4M. Upon your experience with that campaign, you will then have a better sense of how to scale Agile for Marketing across your entire marketing organization. Stuart Eccles, CTO and co-founder of Made by Many advises applying A4M where you have the most pressing need, “Especially where your business environment is changing very rapidly, those are the places where agile will be most appropriate because you need that kind of change… into your culture and into your processes.”

2. Another of our interviewees, Scottrade, organized according to customer segment because their prime objective for getting agile was to be more customer-focused and responsive. Because they organized agile teams around specific customer segments, they have an ongoing conversation with the customer fed by constant testing and measurement. Kim Wells, their chief marketing and digital officer, explains, “We have feedback loops not only from the client but also from the teams that are putting campaigns in market. We’re able to feed back to the Agile core teams what’s working and what’s not…I think that’s a process that works in our favor.”

3. The third method of organizing A4M is by marketing function. This approach was fairly common in our research because a function like digital marketing is a more instinctual fit for A4M. By its nature, digital marketing has more in common with software development and its iterative, quick pace. At HP, their digital marketing team was able to take a campaign from concept to production in just eight weeks, an effort that would have taken six months to a year with a more traditional waterfall method. May Petry, HP’s VP of digital marketing, explains, “Agile development enables me to test, learn, iterate and execute much quicker. If we didn’t apply the agile lifestyle, I wouldn’t be able to iterate and respond to change as quickly as I can right now.”

Certain projects and activities lend themselves to being good test cases for A4M:

  • Content generation
  • Key project or initiative
  • Sales tools and support
  • Digital campaigns
  • Keep-the-lights-on activities: Social media, Lead generation, PR and marcom basics

As you can see, there are several viable options for implementing an A4M approach. And remember, because A4M is in itself agile, you will always have a chance to tweak, pivot or completely reboot. In I.T. terms, A4M is not like a major hardware implementation, it is more like a new operating system for your team—and just like any operating system, there will be new versions, releases and iterations as usage, technology and needs change.

Watch for our next article – What are the Keys to Success with Agile for Marketing?

This article first appeared on CMO Central on the CTAM website here.