Agile is the new buzz word in the business world, being first established in the software development world to tackle a set of unpredictable and moving requirements. Eric Ries, amongst many others, was one of the first to talk openly about the principles of the Lean Startup and Agile Methodologies where optimising the performance of a website or piece of software was the primary focus. This is where the term Conversion Rate Optimisation has come from, or Growth Hacking to use the contemporary terminology.
I believe that these very same principles of test often, fail often, learn always are paramount as we move into a faster and far more dynamic world in terms of both customer expectations and the competitive landscape. I believe that we are able to focus on the reallocation of resources within marketing in the very same way, and move away from the stale, rigid and risky waterfall management framework and into the fast, ‘boxer like’ world of SCRUM.
In short Agile Marketing is comprised of short sprints, that occur anywhere between 7 and 30 days. These micro campaigns consist of pre-defined stages, that in turn feed the direction of marketing strategy and vision. A brilliant piece to read, is the SCRUM reference card that highlights the details of this way of thinking. I have amended the defined Sprint stages so that they are more relevant to the responsibilities of marketing, in my humble opinion.
SCRUM teams get together at the beginning of each sprint or micro-campaign to break down larger goals into smaller tasks. The team then chooses and allocates tasks, roles and responsibility to members. Each team member accepts the tasks, in the genuine understanding that they are achievable in the sprint.
The layout of the SCRUM will be as follows:
- SCRUM will occur on monday morning every week.
- Each attendee will give an oversight of what was achieved in the previous week, and any validated learning that the group should know about.
- Discussion over any learning that affects current work, decisions, directions and relevant action to be taken.
- Micro campaign owner will push important items to the Backlog each week.
- The Sprint Team will commit to delivering certain ‘deployable’ assets within the sprint.
- Deployable assets will be dissected into key tasks, and requirements will be identified for both product and seeding (traditionally known as advertising and engagement).
- KPIs will be identified for each micro-campaign. This is the step where weekly Goals will be identified.
- The individuals of the team will discuss roles and responsibilities of individual tasks can be allocated at this stage. Team members will take ownership for key tasks.
- This SCRUM meeting will take no more than 2 hours.
- Every day the SCRUM team is to have a 15 minute meeting, whereby they stand up and discuss the previous day, the current day and any major issues that were encountered for feedback and quick ideation. If SCRUM team members feel that they can assist in a problem, then they are to bring this up, and arrange for an additional meeting with that individual outside of the daily SCRUM. The daily SCRUM will not be attended by the Micro Campaign Owner so as to encourage emergent leadership.
Implementation and Internal testing
This stage will enable team members the autonomy to work on their own, and collaborate accordingly to deliver on their own responsibilities. Team members will look use personal knowledge, research and data available from previous iteration cycles to develop campaign and marketing assets that will deliver on the KPIs identified.
So as to minimize risks of customer facing content the following ‘have I done this checklist’ should be used by each team member:
1. Have I read this word for word, slowly to make sure that it reads correctly?
2. Have I read this backwards to make sure that there are no obvious spelling errors.
3. Have I run this piece of content through a Microsoft word spell checker?
4. Has another person read this before I pull the trigger?
5. Am I willing to put my reputation against this piece of content?
6. Only when the answer to all those above is YES, then you can deploy.
This checklist format comes from Atul Gawande’s Checklist Manifesto, which i would encourage everyone on this blog to read.
Mid sprint SCRUM Review meetings will be encouraged, where team members are to demonstrate finished materials (or at key iterations) for feedback from interested team members. This offers an opportunity for outside people, customers or potential customers to offer feedback. This will offer iterative feedback on material and campaigns enabling a value driven approach
Deployment of new marketing assets or collateral
In this stage, seeding teams will take the assets and distribute across previously identified channels so as to gain maximum exposure for the brand. Teams are also responsible for answering any questions online and via social media, or taking any feedback and gathering it for the next SCRUM meeting.
Listen and engage with consumer of material
This is an important (and continual process) of social listening and communication. It ensures that all team members are on relevant social media and engaging in associated conversations about the material, products, services and company.
Analysis of KPIs and ROI
In this stage of the iteration cycle team members will collect the data of relevant KPIs so that ROI can be gauged. Assumptions should be made from this information, and attempts at insight are encouraged.
Decisions should be made for future iteration cycles in preparation for the next SCRUM.
I think it apt to state that all team members should get aligned with real metrics, and leave the ‘gut instincts’ at the door.
Sprint Retrospective Meeting
Each sprint will end with a retrospective meeting where the team can reflect on its own process, and are able to take action to make future sprints better.
The main aim of these meetings is to expose organizational and team impediments. It is important that this time is a free and open environment to positively critique team and individual performance. This is not a time for the blame game, rather for personal learning, mentorship and improvement.
So this is, in short my breakdown of the Agile Methodologies into something ‘chewable’ for marketers. I could be wrong, but hey, i am happy to amend my view dependant on the results. Challenge me.. please.
I look forward to your comments.