Our team has been practicing agile marketing with a relatively new client over the past two months, and it’s been a fascinating experience. High level, we like it a lot. We’re refining the process as we go – making tweaks to the process and how we manage it both internally and with the client – but overall we’re very happy with how it’s helped us focus, stay nimble & accountable, and generate results.
Here are a few more specific pros, cons and observations from our team’s time practicing agile marketing thus far.
Fast paced & high energy
There’s no question that agile marketing helps you get more done faster. The format of high visibility of tasks, frequent but short check-ins, and rapid iteration of what’s important helps what you’re doing feel more relevant, impactful and achievable.
Focused on what’s important now (vs. a 12-month marketing plan)
For most organizations, the days of the 12-month marketing plan are over. Developing metrics & desired outcomes over 6-12 months is still a great idea, but enumerating exactly how you’re going to get there month by month isn’t always feasible. Agile marketing helps you focus on what’s important now, what’s working now, and how that will adjust next month.
Our team has 20-minute check-ins three times a week. The client is on these calls as well. We focus primarily on what’s not working or where we’re stuck. It’s a great way to keep everyone accountable, as it provides at least three times a week when everyone is looking at the job board and recognizing where progress has been made (or not).
Frequent reviews & conversations to stay on target
Those check-ins (literally 15-20 minutes or less) keep us on target, and they also help in-between conversations to stay focused on solving problems and getting stuff done. Side conversations with smaller groups still happen to go deeper into problems, but agile marketing helps maximize everyone’s time.
Easy to prioritize activity vs results
A full board of tasks for the month can look great, but it could also represent a ton of activity with minimal impact on the business if you don’t manage it well. We’ve modified our agile marketing execution a bit so that we’re still doing more “traditional” planning at the beginning of the month, but using agile marketing to drive execution. For example, with this particular client we developed a Q2 demand generation plan to build the sales team’s pipeline. We needed to ensure we had the overall plans, channels and coverage required to hit the top-line marketing qualified lead goal. But once that plan was reviewed & approved by the client, we immediately went into agile mode to execute.
Must still be disciplined about dates & milestones
It’s also easy to focus on monthly sprints without paying attention to mid-month deadlines and milestones. For those trying agile marketing, I still highly recommend putting dates and deadlines on as many mid-month tasks as possible. It’ll ensure you’re not scrambling in the final days of the sprint.
Not always a flexible as it should be (focused on sprint achievement vs. mid-month changes)
Agile marketing, by definition, is intended to help organizations focus on rapid iteration of execution to achieve results. But if you build a sprint at the start of the month and stay laser-focused on its achievement, you might actually miss mid-month change opportunities. Put another way, if you focus singularly on finishing the pre-determined sprint, you’re actually not operating as agilely as you could. Ironic, but true.
I asked Brian Hansford, our account director on this particular agile marketing account, to review this list of pros & cons. I thought his response was great:
“Seems like you hit the high points. The focus is heavy on execution which is great. But it can also feel like building the airplane while we’re in the air. Big picture objectives, if you’re not careful, can be lost or not even planned. And there’s a great risk of measuring success on completed activities and not the results, as you say.
“I think it’s important to apply agile marketing to the right situations. When you need to get up and running fast and out of the strategy airlock, agile is great. I can see where agile would be great for product launches and campaigns. But in the end Big Picture Strategy is still needed. Driving fast is great. But if you don’t where the hell you’re going, what’s the point?”
If you’re practicing agile marketing as well, I’d love to hear your feeback, pros & cons, and other impressions/observations below.