Agile marketing has gained serious traction during the COVID-19 pandemic by enabling marketers to adapt more quickly to extraordinary market changes.
Though many people often look at Agile through a "for IT only" lens, the reality is that the practice is versatile and can be successfully applied to the marketing function, making it more efficient, productive, and truly collaborative.
In fact, 84% of marketers who used Agile strategies last year considered it an important part of navigating 2020, data from AgileSherpas' 4th Annual State of Agile Marketing Report shows.
As a certified Scrum coach, I can confidently say that Agile marketing is extremely effective and beneficial when it's used correctly.
The "why" behind using Agile in marketing is often a gap between highly innovative, digital marketing activities juxtaposed with old-school, waterfall styles of work management. The misalignment between the two is what Agile helps improve, making marketing teams more efficient and productive.
To further understand why Agile and scrum can help marketers increase teams' efficiency and results, here are four tips that can ease the way for your own adoption of the practice.
One of the most prominent challenges to adopting Agile marketing is a lack of education and properly qualified people on board to guide and organize marketing teams' agility.
Avoidable mistakes can often occur due to a lack of knowledge on how to properly apply Agile through scrum frameworks.
Employing Agile strategies requires a unified team committed to a consistent workstream. It doesn't work to use Agile only on a project basis while some team members continue to go about their other day-to-day work without considering those processes.
By working with certified agile coaches, organizations can implement Agile to effectively reduce bottlenecks, avoid mistakes, and get more done in less time.
Test-and-learn situations that are heavily documented to show outcomes can create clear case studies on the benefits of transforming into a truly Agile team. They helps to clearly identify how much of marketers' day-to-day work should rely on Agile frameworks set up by a qualified coach (spoiler alert: it's more than you think!).
2. Visualize the work as a unified team
In my experience, visualizing your team's work is the best first step.
I've seen multiple senior marketing team leads who don't actually know how their people are spending their time. Teams might work a lot behind the scenes without using Agile; as a result, their team leads don't necessarily have the insight into certain campaigns or projects that are actively being worked on.
Then, when it's time to bring the work out into the open, leaders are appalled by how much time and effort has been put into last-minute requests or content that isn't attributable instead of the work that they would've prioritized.
Maintaining those leadership legacy cultures is actually one of the top challenges organizations face while adopting Agility, along with a lack of vision, according to last year's Business Agility Report from Scrum Alliance and the Business Agility Institute. Visualizing as a team from the start gives leaders the opportunity to more clearly define the work that needs to be done, as well as set their expectations on how it's done and when it should be delivered.
3. Always stay connected
I recently worked with a pharmaceutical company on an end-to-end Agile transformation. The marketing team's productivity improved, but Agile also ended up strengthening the team's relationships with internal partners, driving better campaign results than originally expected because the team was able to launch in the market sooner.
At the start of the transformation, we identified that one of Marketing's biggest challenges was that the marketers had become the "yes" team, agreeing to many requests from others in the organization that they didn't actually have the bandwidth to complete. Paradoxically, that caused tension between the marketing team and other teams that weren't getting the results promised to them.
When Agile was introduced through the components of scrum, it did a great job of documenting the transformation and showed how those strategies better connected teams to get more projects done in less time.
The implementation was by no means straightforward, but communication, especially among team leads, improved significantly. Now the company has nine teams across the organization using Agile in their operations on a daily basis.
4. Set reasonable expectations
Although implementing Agile within marketing teams can be hugely beneficial, leaders must be reasonable when setting their expectations. A general time box cannot be applied to your team's adoption of Agile. Instead, it should be shaped as a business problem or goal that you are trying to achieve.
Switching to Agile marketing is not a simple process; it's a full-on transformation that takes time and requires significant investment from the most senior leaders to their most junior team members.
By employing the proper education and support, adopting an Agile framework such as scrum can create more collaboration that not only satisfies your team's individual needs and the needs of the rest of the enterprise but also improves your ROI and your organization's bottom line.
More Resources on Agile Marketing
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