Start grassroots experiments with the team as a way to demonstrate agile practices while also educating leaders and middle management about how their roles can evolve to support this new way of working.
Too often companies approach agile marketing as a new process for the team, but in reality, there are often substantial organizational changes that need to be made. The companies that do well implementing agile marketing have both elements in play: real agile experimentation on the ground with teams and leadership buy-in.
Learning from the ground up
Agile marketing is all about learning from experimentation, so what better way to experiment than with the team actually doing the marketing execution work.
The best way to prove a new method of working is to test it and learn from on-the-ground success stories, as well as failures. This grassroots approach can work really well, especially in smaller companies that may already be agile-minded.
Here are a few small experiments that you can try with minimal disruption:
1. Start a daily standup meeting with the entire team
This is a really low-cost, high-yield way to improve communication and collaboration. It’s a minimal time investment with a lot of benefits such as improving communication as a team rather than one-off conversations, reducing the need for additional meetings and a way to instantly solve problems together.
To get further buy-in from leaders on implementing agile marketing, document time saved from other meetings as well as how quickly problems are resolved this way versus how your team worked before the experiment.
2. Visualize your work
A lot of marketers are plagued by too much work with little transparency into what they’ve already committed to doing.
By visualizing the work of everyone on your team and making it transparent and visible to everyone, the team can begin having trade-off conversations when new requests come in. This can be done with a simple board on the wall or a simple online tool such as Trello or Monday.
Rather than blindly just filling up their plates, it can become a negotiation-type of conversation. “I can add that request, but here’s the impact it will have on the other thing we’re working on right now for you.”
With this experiment, track how many requests you were able to negotiate – to start at a later time or not at all – with these new shared insights. You can also measure the results to determine if this new approach has helped the team complete more work with fewer interruptions.
Leaders who are willing to change
The grassroots to agile marketing approach is definitely a good starting point, but in conjunction with those efforts, there needs to be leadership buy-in to radically change a stodgy culture with outdated management processes.
An agile marketing team becomes successful when it has the ability to work from one prioritized marketing backlog. This allows the people doing the work to spend time actually working, not fielding ad-hoc requests.
In order to do this successfully, leaders need to understand their role isn’t to assign work or to interrupt the team with emergency requests. This slows the team down and makes deadlines for completion unreliable.
An agile marketing leader needs to work at a higher level to provide strategic direction while allowing the team the freedom to figure out how to best accomplish those goals.
It helps to have one person on the team, often called a product owner or marketing owner, that is accountable for prioritizing the team’s work.
Creating value for the frozen middle
Middle managers feel the most threatened by the organizational changes that come with agile marketing so it’s important to clearly communicate their value and how they contribute to an agile company.
These managers work well as practice leads in agile marketing. The manager may lead the content team, for example, and as a practice lead would make sure that the content writers have standards for quality, learning opportunities and feel supported in their craft.
To succeed in agile marketing, look to start grassroots experiments with the team while educating leaders and middle management on how their roles can evolve to support this new way of working. Agile marketing isn’t just for one team – it’s for the entire organization to become more flexible, adaptable and customer-centric.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.