Life as a marketer is never dull. We’re faced with constantly shifting priorities and burgeoning workloads coupled with shrinking resources. Throw on top of this an ever-changing landscape of new competitors and technologies and an increasing responsibility around revenue growth and customer experience. In order to succeed in today’s world, we need to adopt new mindsets and new ways of working.
Back when there were only a few marketing channels and few traditional competitors, life was simple. We could take 6 months to plan our next campaign, pick a few channels and run our campaign for the next year. We’d then review the results and repeat for the following plan. Times have changed. Always on and micro-campaigns are the new norm and we must act faster and with more agility than ever before. In addition, it seems that we’ve never had as many unknown unknowns, due to the complexity of the environment, so planning more than 6 months ahead is futile as the world would have changed. To cap it off, our teams are constantly understaffed, overworked and overwhelmed - and Agile can be part of the solution to address these challenges.
To illustrate the pace of change in traditional sectors like higher education you just have to look at the growth of platforms like edX and Udacity and the innovation around nano-degrees, MOOCs and MicroMasters. These platforms have seen millions of students enroll in courses since their launch only a few years ago. While in marketing you can witness the explosive growth of the Martech 5000 which has grown from practically zero in 2011 to >7000 martech products in 2019.
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Confronting this pace of change is difficult because it moves faster than our pace of learning as per Eddie Obeng’s TED Talk. But as marketing leaders, we can’t just sit back, watch and say oh well. Well, we can...but we may not be around for the next quarter.
Often, marketers look to new technology as the way to solve the problem. If only we can buy this stack and implement this solution, we’ll free up some resource and create efficiency. Or alternatively we may think if we can just launch that new campaign, we’ll see the numbers rise and get ahead of the game.
I think the biggest opportunity lies not in new technology, or the next campaign but in new ways of working and in harmonising our team’s effort towards clear priorities and goals and enabling them to get into flow. It’s crazy that one of the biggest lines on many CMOs or CDOs budget is the staffing line, but we rarely pay enough attention to maximising the outcomes from our people by enabling them to do their best work.
One of the ways you can get your team humming is through Agile Marketing. When I was CMO at Curtin University, we started down the Agile path by implementing Scrum for projects and Kanban for Business as Usual work. We trained the whole team in the methodology, got each team large physical Kanban boards, and plenty of sticky notes and set aside time for everyone to get their boards set up. In the spirit of Agile, we had some flexibility in how they each set up their board, so that it was relevant to their workflow and processes. We then continued to scale from there, with further training, iteration and the implementation of Agile Marketing software.
The main thing is to start, and start small. You don't have to wait for a big bang implementation, or to restructure your whole team in the Spotify model with Squads, Tribes, Chapters and Guilds. You can implement Agile in your existing team structures and still see major benefits - it just requires the right approach and buy-in from the bottom-up and top-down.
The results at Curtin were amazing. I'm so excited that I now get to work with other progressive leaders and teams to help them implement Agile and reap the benefits. Check out the next blogs for more on Agile Marketing.
(This blog is an update to one of my previous personal LinkedIn Articles).
Next Read: What is Scrum Exactly?
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