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The notion of big, hulking marketing campaigns that get released once a quarter, or even once a year, has morphed substantially. The digital world is responsible. It’s accelerated the pace for companies to stay competitive in a hyper-fast-firing world, using the digital toolbox to respond to increased consumer demand and rapidly shifting priorities.

Marketing: meet agile

Increasingly, companies are realizing that by integrating agile methodologies, they enable a speed to market — and ability to respond — that previously was unachievable.

“In terms of business goals, the most valuable aspect of agile is this idea of accelerating the cadence at which marketing operates,” said Scott Brinker, CTO of Ion Interactive and — and one of our featured panelists in this upcoming webinar.

“Instead of these long quarter-long, half-year-long, or even year-long planning cycles being our primary cadence, we can get down to something that’s operating more in a matter of weeks.”

Agile provides a management mechanism that breaks things down into smaller chunks and enables marketers to try versions of things that are a little more lightweight — a way to test the waters, learn, and then refine and build on that in the next cycle. It’s what the agile community calls incremental and iterative deliverables, or continuous deployment.

“There ends up being a great benefit,” said Brinker. “It’s all too common to see, once we agree on a plan, everybody kind of goes head down into that plan — or worst case, they end up trying to deal with fire drills that disrupt the plan but nobody talks about giving up the plan and it gets ridiculously hard.”

He contrasted this with iteration cycles that are two, three, or four weeks in length that offer a built-in mechanism to react and pivot as things change. Perhaps the competitive threat has changed, or the audience response to a particular campaign wasn’t what was expected. Without being locked into a campaign that is months in the making, critical adjustments can be made.

“From a business perspective, it becomes by far the greatest material advantage that an organization gets [from agile],” said Brinker.

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Transparency leads to recognition

Fundamental to agile is the notion of transparency. Borrowing from Kanban methodology, the idea is to map all the stories that marketing is engaged in, all the things that business wants the marketing team to deliver, and all the tasks required for those. From that master list, priorities are agreed upon and sprints are established.

“The beautiful thing is you have transparency about what those tasks are and what their status is,” explained Brinker. “Are they waiting to be tackled, are they in progress, who’s the person who has the ownership for that, is it now done and being queued up, is it ready for deployment, is it out in the field?”

And if that physical or digital board is shared among all stakeholders in the company, there’s a huge side benefit.

“Most people don’t realize all of the things that marketers are doing from 5 in the morning till midnight,” said Brinker. “And when you actually see all this activity captured and you see how it progresses, usually it’s a big boost of recognition for all the work that marketing is doing.”

High-level strategic goals meets iterative

However, as Brinker explained, not all marketing responsibilities are going to fit tightly into iterative tasks. One extreme example he gives is high-level strategic positioning for a company. Said company may determine that there are three strategic messages that are key to its positioning in the coming year.

“These become a higher level set of goalposts that you use to evaluate the iterations you’re doing,” said Brinker, “to evaluate against those strategic lenses.”

If you consider those Kanban-style visual boards that map the entire process, much of the time, people are moving along a horizontal flow, progressing from column one to column two and so on.

“But what I’ve seen a number of companies do is create a vertical categorization — I call them swim lanes,” said Brinker. “So I can say these are the three strategic priorities we we have with the marketing effort overall for the next year, so let’s put those swim lanes onto our Kanban board — and as we’re classifying the tasks we’re going to be working on, we put them in those relative swim lanes. We make sure things get attached to a strategic goal.”

Join Brinker, along with Stewart Rogers, VB Insight’s Director of Marketing; Philip Sheldrake of Euler Partners; and Dave Lesué, Creative Director at Workfront for an inside look at how to implement agile into marketing and creative teams — and reap the benefits.

In this webinar, you’ll:

* Learn how top-performing marketing teams win by planning work in sprints
* Understand how to organize priorities strategically
* Discover how to prove your value as a creative team with continuous improvement
* Find out why agile methodologies are the key to driving results


Scott Brinker, CTO of Ion Interactive and
Philip Sheldrake, Managing Partner, Euler Partners
Dave Lesué, Creative Director, Workfront

Stewart Rogers, Director, Marketing Technology, VentureBeat

This webinar is sponsored by Workfront.