Getting Started With Agile Marketing

In today’s digital-driven, always-on, constantly moving world, there really is no other option than to be Agile.

However, when it comes to adoption, there's no one-size-fits-all. Every business is different - with different legacy, different culture, different environment, and different people.

So, where do you start?

The best way to implement Agile Marketing is in an Agile fashion. Taking a gradual approach to adopting Agile will help you understand the different components and how it can work for you.

Get Buy-In

Problems arise when people hang on to their misconceptions and don’t fully commit. Everyone, especially senior management, needs to be dedicated to the methodology and new ways-of-working. Agile moves fast - and those that aren’t on board will certainly get left behind.

Educating the team on what is Agile, the benefits it holds, and what moving to Agile means, is crucial to gain that buy-in. This doesn’t just include the direct team or teams involved, but critically wider stakeholders and business partners, both internal and external.

It’s important that they know what to expect as Agile will change many aspects of their everyday working lives. People need to be familiar with the terminology, disciplines, and behaviours before they embark on the transition to Agile Marketing.

Having buy-in is especially important when it comes to implementing cross-functional teams. Leaders of existing functional silos can feel very threatened by this new way-of-working, seeing risks to their power and even jobs. It’s therefore key to bring them into the loop early, possibly as part of an executive working group with responsibility for the success of the Agile agenda.

Start Small

Don’t try to implement Agile Marketing with a big, six-month plan and complete re-organisation.

Start small. Pick one area to begin with as your beachhead and then built out from there. This area shouldn’t be a project with a beginning and a definite end; rather, an area where you can improve customer outcomes over time, for example, new customer onboarding.

Learn Through Experimentation

Try different ways-of-working. Not all Agile methodologies and practices will be right for your business or team.

As you start out I’d recommend following the methodologies as they’re defined, i.e. using the practices of Scrum to the letter. Over time as you get more familiar with how these work, you can adjust and adapt to fit your specific needs and requirements.

You can then start introducing new Agile methodologies and practices into the mix. Many cross over and compliment each other, so as you gain traction see if there are other components of Agile that add to, or are better than what you’re doing.

Learn through experimentation and taking gradual steps.

Measure What’s Working...And What’s Not

As you try different methodologies and practices, it’s important to validate your learnings through measurable data, rather than relying on opinions.

Establish metrics that you can use to understand what’s working and what’s not. These should not only be related to the performance of your product or service, but also the Agile process itself. Measures such as the number of tasks completed, the time to move a task to ‘done’, or the number of tasks at specific work stages can all be used to gauge how productive and effective the team is working, and how much impact Agile is actually having.

Define up-front what success looks like. What are you trying to achieve? What improvements are most critical?

Get Support

According to the ‘State of Agile Marketing’ report from Wrike, a lack of training and knowledge about Agile approaches is the biggest barrier to implementing it. Working with someone who’s been there and done it, who understands the concepts and mechanics of Agile - especially in a Marketing context - can save you lots of time and frustration, and many times can be the difference between success and failure.

Invariably, they’ve seen most of the common mistakes before. Plus, they have an outsider's perspective, so can help you to see the “wood for the trees” as you get immersed in your everyday Agile practices.

It’s definitely worth working with an Agile Marketing coach at the beginning of your journey to help educate the team, understand which methodologies to start with, and act as a guide as you get up-and-running. It’s also beneficial to have ongoing check-ins so they can provide a sounding board as you experiment and look to scale.

Using the above starters will help you get underway and build your team into a truly Agile operation that will be more engaged, more productive and more successful.