Create a healthy partnership with your internal teams using agile marketing

It’s time to ditch the order-taking syndrome and build stronger partnerships with your stakeholders.

A lot of marketers find themselves in the position of being an order taker with their internal stakeholders who have lost sight of the value we bring to the table.

With agile marketing, we can gain empowerment to do the right things with our teams while also building healthy partnerships with stakeholders.

Set clear boundaries with stakeholders

In traditional marketing, we’ve become prescriptive when it comes to requesting work. I’m amazed at how many times a well-educated, experienced marketer gets a work request with multiple pages of instructions and zero room for any thinking whatsoever.

In agile marketing, we try to keep pretty clean lines between what stakeholders want and how it’s going to be delivered. Since marketers are closest to the ones doing the work, they need to own the process of how this will happen.

Work should come to an agile marketing team with some information, which can include serving the customer or market as well as how this work will benefit the stakeholders. It’s also fair game to explain how the work may relate to business goals and objectives as well. A few more details on what’s needed are fine, but the goal is to provide the marketing team with a problem, not to spell out a solution.

Agile marketers are smart people who are great at solving complex problems, and since they’re experts on the work they do, let them decide some essential things such as what channels are best and how to do this creatively (staying within brand standards, of course).

Collaboratively plan out work with the marketing team

A great way to form a healthy partnership is to run a quarterly planning session with both stakeholders and the marketing team that’s going to do the execution work. Getting everyone in the same room helps build trust and transparency at all levels.

The stakeholders can begin by sharing what their goals are for the business or product over the next three months. The team can then ask questions and gain further understanding of what stakeholders need. This collaborative back-and-forth dialogue helps achieve alignment and shared understanding.

The planning session should also include brainstorming campaign ideas by quickly jotting down their thoughts on sticky notes or through a virtual whiteboard. Next, a prioritization of the ideas can happen collaboratively by physically moving each one from top to bottom, with the top being the winners.

Next, the team can do a high-level sizing of the work. A great tool to try this is by using a fun and interactive card game (like Planning Poker) that helps with quick relative sizing of effort. The game gives the stakeholders rapid information on how much a campaign idea may “cost” them in terms of the team’s time.

At the end of the session, the marketing team and stakeholders walk away with a good understanding of the business goals and some of the campaign ideas that they’ll work on, keeping everyone in sync.

Establish a marketing owner role to streamline communication

A marketing team owner role can significantly benefit any agile marketing team. This role (known as a product owner in Scrum) is responsible for prioritization of future work for the team. This person helps the team deciide what to work on next, but never tells the team how to do their job.

In addition to working with the team, the owner spends a lot of time with the stakeholders to manage all of their requests and shielding the team from having to deal with multiple people asking them to do work, which allows for more focused work time.

This person has to be empowered to make sound business decisions, often saying no to stakeholders requesting work that doesn’t align with the organization’s higher-level business priorities.

By creating open, collaborative communication between stakeholders and the day-to-day work of the marketing team that does the day-to-day work, you’ll find your company is more innovative and productive.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”

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