Driving an Agile Marketing Transformation - Identify the right Reasons and choose the right Moment

Driving an Agile Marketing Transformation - Identify the right Reasons and choose the right Moment

Driving an Agile Marketing Transformation - Identify the right Reasons and choose the right Moment

Introducing Agile Marketing

More and more Marketing organizations realize they need to be faster, more flexible/responsive and more collaborative to have a real impact on the business they’re supporting. More and more marketing leaders believe Agile Marketing is the way to modernize their organization.
Inspired by Agile Development, Agile Marketing describes a mindset of continuous learning and validation, customer-focused collaboration across functional silos, adaptive and iterative campaigns and more responsive/continuous planning. Similar to development organizations, Agile Marketers use techniques such as Scrum to work in an iterative cadence and Kanban to visualize and improve the flow of work. They apply Lean Startup / Growth Hacking thinking to take it one step further and move to an experimentation/data-informed approach.

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Applying these in a small marketing team in a digital/online-only context is non-trivial but relatively manageable.  Once you go beyond one team and start to involve physical-world marketing, interaction with sales organizations and other complexities as well as some existing leadership conventions and styles - it becomes an even bigger challenge.  It only makes sense then that in these contexts a real transformation requires marketing leadership to be involved and that those marketing leaders hesitate to make a move. 
I've also seen several cases where the marketing leader is aware and convinced but his team isn't.  The right combination of drivers and triggers is needed. If you want to market agile marketing to help your team/leader reach the tipping point, here are some reasons/drivers you might want to use in your pitch as well as some triggers you may want to identify/leverage.

Why Agile Marketing - The Key Drivers/Reasons We Keep Hearing

  • Ensuring that your marketing organization is agile and responsive - the pace of customer needs, partner demands, and requests from other parts of the organization is unrelenting and ever changing. How do you prioritize and execute on the most immediate needs while finding time for longer-term strategic initiatives?     
  • Creating a culture of data-driven decision making and validated learning - the hunch driven world of Don Draper is dead (if it ever existed). You’re expected to make marketing decisions based on data and validated learning. Easier said than done.     
  • Delivering customer value when the solution cuts across organizational boundaries - You know what it takes to dominate your market, but creating the solution requires cooperation across marketing, product development, finance, sales, and operations. And not only collaboration with your peers, but all the way down and across the organization. How do you deliver these kinds of cross-functional solutions quickly?     
  • Understanding, deploying and integrating marketing technology - According to Scott Brinker’s latest Marketing Technology Supergraphic, there are now over 6500 marketing technology solutions. How do you select the right ones, manage the vendors and integrate them?
  • Working at the pace of the Technology organization - As their technology/development organizations adopt more and more of the Lean/Agile/DevOps practices, marketers feel overwhelmed by the pace of delivery and change and look for ways to better align to a Lean/Agile technology/product organization.     
  • Doing all of the above in a predictable and sustainable way - And last, but not least, how do you do all of the above without resorting to “hero mode”? In Hero mode, people work long hours, burn out and delivery is neither predictable nor sustainable.  
Reasons are not enough. We need to wait for the right moment to really succeed with an Agile Marketing transformation  Agile Marketing might be just right for you, but success is much more likely if the right moment arrives. What are some right moments for driving a change like Agile Marketing?  

New Marketing Leadership

One crucial moment is when new leadership comes in and takes a fresh look at things. Agile Marketing might come about as a result of concerns about the competency of the marketing organization or a desire to modernize how marketing works.  Poor marketing campaigns results or dissatisfaction from business leaders are a common reason marketing leadership gets replaces in the first place. The new leader coming in hears things like "We don't know what the marketing organization has been wasting its time on" or "They don't speak our language, confuse us with marketing metrics we don't care about." 

Another situation is when a new marketing leader is brought in to help scale the marketing organization and realizes that the current structure/process is unscalable, bottlenecked, slow, and reliant on a few "heroes."  One problem with this moment is that the new leader will be overwhelmed and the moment might dissipate. It requires real conviction that applying Agile can be a pivot point for the marketing organization to warrant enough attention to it at this point.

Innovation / Customer Experience

As marketing leaders take on more and more responsibility for the whole customer experience and specifically the whole digital experience, they realize their current slow/siloed approaches are unfit for the pace of innovation and learning needed to "nail" the right customer experience.  Marketing wants to be able to close a fast learning loop and run mini "innovation labs" as part of the wider marketing organization not just the "cool kids" in the corporate innovation lab.

We Tried Agile "by the book" based on Agile Development and Failed

Many people try Agile Marketing in the small by mapping directly from the Agile Development. They send a few individuals to agile training (e.g. a Scrum Master class) or ask some coaches from the development side to help them out. Then a few weeks/months later they're so confused and struggling that they either throw it away (Which is a shame but isn't a trigger for a real agile transformation...) or they realize they need to look the things in a deeper more holistic and pragmatic manner. 

Need to Scale Agile beyond a few small experiments

Similar to trying and failing, but these organizations tried some small agile experiments and understand they need to look at it differently now that they want to scale it further.

Drowning in work

That is especially popular with middle managers that are trying to make ends meet with more and more workload and the same (or in some cases even fewer) people.

Alignment with the Development/IT/Technology side of the house

As Dev/IT/Technology organizations move to Agile/DevOps approaches, Many marketing leaders feel the need to align their language, process, cadence with the way their peers are working and talking. 

Revamping the Marketing Technology Stack

As marketing organizations try to build a modernized marketing technology stack many of them are realizing that they need an effective adaptive process to help deal with these complex projects. Since much of a marketing technology stack improvement project includes technology/development work it makes sense to everyone to use an agile approach to it. This then cuts across to some of the marketing-style work that is associated with the new technology stack, which in many cases brings about a wider discussion about an agile operating system for marketing.

Implementing a new marketing approach - e.g. Social Selling, Content Marketing, Account Based Everything  

Trying a new approach to marketing involves a lot of uncertainty and complexity and collaboration across silos. Smart marketing leaders connect the dots and realize Agile Marketing is the right approach for figuring out how to effectively do Content Marketing, Social Selling, Account Based Everything, or whatever new thing you're trying.


Whether you are a marketing leader trying to find the right language to talk to your people about agile marketing or a marketer that is trying to find the right moment to pitch Agile Marketing to your leaders, I hope this list of reasons and drivers helps.  PS I'm always interested to hear from people that are considering how to start an agile marketing transformation. I might even have a couple of tips for you. As part of trying to help Agile Marketing cross the chasm, I currently offer a free no-strings-attached consultation session to help you reach your agile marketing tipping point. And if you already know you need some help, Reach out to AgileSparks - let us be your guides. 

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                                      Yuval Yeret
we found a valuable partner for our lean/agile journey. Yuval has vast knowledge and experience and highly versatile consulting/training skills as well as passion and commitment to coach and escort us until we achieve our goals"   I lead consulting services at AgileSparks USA. Our focus is helping technology organizations looking to improve their agility thru Change Management, Training, Implementation and Coaching activities at various phases of the journey. 
I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside people at companies such as Siemens, HP, Intel, Amdocs, CyberArk, Informatica, Nice Actimize - helping them figure a way out of a tough struggle and seeing them enjoy the fruits of the transformation when they’re able to accelerate their time to market, improve the value of their work as well as achieve these results in a more humane sustainable fashion.    
Somehow I’m always the goto guy for tough cases where “by the book” agile doesn’t cut it. This is probably the reason I’m always looking at various alternatives and approaches that help bring Lean/Agile to life in these tough contexts and is why I have experience  in various approaches ranging from Scrum through Kanban, Scrumban, Scaled Agile Framework, Lean Startup, Large Scale Scrum, No Estimates and more.   
I'm a certified SAFe SPC Trainer (SPCT), Scrum.org Professional Scrum Trainer (PST), a Kanban Trainer, and hold some other certifications in the Agile world (CSM, CSPO, CSP). These days I'm also focusing on our Agile Marketing practice. I'm helping marketing organizations transform using Lean/Agile principles and practices and am part of a community of thought leaders trying to establish the Agile Marketing market ecosystem. Connect to me and reach out if you need some transformational spark in your Lean/Agile journey

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