Supporting Cast: Getting started with the Agile Marketing Navigator 

This is a new role in agile, created jus for the Navigator. It helps understand how agile teams interact with third parties like agencies.

Today we’ll dive into the Supporting Cast role. This is one that’s unique to marketing and you won’t hear this term in other agile frameworks. Here’s how we describe this role in the Agile Marketing Navigator:

“The Supporting Cast are important contributors who do occasional work for the team. They serve as consultants to the team, joining them when they are actively involved with work in the Launch Cycle. This cast is often comprised of agency partners or very specialized skill sets that service all of marketing.

Why did we add a new role?

You may be wondering why we’re adding a new role. It was created primarily to identify the nature of interaction with agency partners, many of which are critical players in marketing departments. Since this has never been talked about before, we’re covering new ground with this role, and it will probably be refined over time. 

As we’ve worked with teams, we often coach and train the team — and the agency partners are left out. When the team comes back to them with a completely new way of working, there’s a culture clash.

So, let’s just knock this one out from the get-go and help to define how these relationships should work in an agile marketing environment.

Where do agency partners fit into agile marketing?

The teams that I’ve seen embrace this the most effectively bring agency partners close to the team. While they may not be the core group that does day-to-day work, it’s critical that they understand their client’s agile approach and how they fit into it.

First of all, if your budget allows for it, agency partners should attend any agile marketing training with the team to gain shared understanding. This will get everyone on the same page right away.

In a typical client/agency relationship, the agency does a lot of the strategy work and presents it to the client. In agile marketing, this shifts a bit and the agency and Marketing Owner partner on this together, constantly communicating on business goals and what makes sense.

In agile marketing we don’t remove strategizing, but it’s not as heavy upfront. A high-level strategy should be agreed upon by the Marketing Owner and Supporting Cast members, but they will also iterate throughout execution, as delivering quick experiments and their results is really what we’re after.

The Supporting Cast members may be heavily embedded with the team during certain projects where they’re delivering work. However, there may be times when they’re more removed because they don’t have active work happening. 

When the Supporting Cast members have work in the cycle, they should attend team meetings daily so that everyone is working in real time.

Building a partnership

The Supporting Cast members become true partners with the agile marketing team. One of the toughest things here is for the agencies to show vulnerability. It’s no longer about being pixel-perfect or having all of the “right” answers before coming to a meeting. The relationship becomes more of a peer-to-peer one where agencies and the team ideate and collaborate together.

When agencies are the “team”

In some cases, work is outsourced to agencies and they actually are the team, not necessarily the Supporting Cast. This is true if the majority of work being delivered is being done by an agency. In those cases, treat them like any other team member and have them actively involved with the day-to-day collaboration happening.

Whether people are Supporting Cast members or part of the agile marketing team, it’s important to carve out roles and expectations early on and adjust them if needed.

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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.”