So You Want to Build an Agile Marketing Team

December 7, 2018
Contributor: Chris Ross

Can the agile methodology work for marketing organizations? Start with these key practices.

Agile marketing is all the rage and is being heralded as a way to build a flexible and responsive marketing organization. I frequently field questions from CMOs about the nuts and bolts of agile marketing. What is it? Should we be doing it? Are we already doing it? What tools do we need?

“CMOs must build a diverse, adaptable range of team capabilities to keep their brands competitive.”

The focus on agile started in the software world with agile software development. It’s an alternative to the traditional, serialized, waterfall development approach — a leaner, meaner, faster, more flexible way to build software. It brings its own jargon and culture. Work is in the context of sprints, and the ebb and flow of everything are shaped by the agile work style. Terms like scrum, scrum master, cadence, backlog, sprints and my personal favorite — chicken — are all part of the agile development lexicon.

Does such a software-laden culture have a place in the world of marketing? Yes. As the latest Gartner CMO Spend Survey shows us, CMOs must build a diverse, adaptable range of team capabilities to keep their brands competitive amid rapid marketplace shifts. An agile approach would serve them well.

To effectively adopt an agile approach for marketing, focus less on strict processes and more on applying higher-order agile principles. You can start by implementing one or more these key agile practices:   

  • Create sprints. These discrete work cycles break work to be done into a series of smaller, yet connected, chunks of work with a specific duration.
  • Clearly define deliverables. Ensure each sprint and the collection of sprints are designed to produce clearly defined deliverables.
  • Institute daily stand-up meetings. Agile methodologies are well-known for these short status updates and planning sessions. They are effective in getting everyone on the same page for the work that needs to happen that day.
  • Build a diverse and agile team. Agile teams are composed of individuals from across an organization with a variety of skills and experience levels. Base team assignments on the alignment of capabilities with the work to be done, not on seniority or organizational placement.

Read more: How to Build an Agile Marketing Analytics Team

These are the core ideas behind an agile marketing approach and the most important principles to keep in mind.

So don’t worry too much about a literal 1:1 mapping of your agile approach to the software world’s agile development process. Instead, use the four principles above as an anchor and adapt what works best for you and your team around those ideas.

Implementing Agile

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