Agile marketing has proved invaluable recently as a response to the pandemic, but it’s unlikely to go away in the near future now that the majority of marketers (51%) are utilizing some degree of agile practices, with that number highly likely to increase in the future. As a pandemic-era response it’s proved highly effective, as agile allows you to adapt quickly during uncertainty.
So being adaptable and flexible means you don’t need a long-term plan, right?
It’s easy to get the misconception that agile marketing is a sort of controlled chaos. The concept of short sprints on projects that are of the most value at the time, with continued reiterations on what works makes it sound like decisions are made on a spur of the moment basis, with strategies and choices based on reactions rather than an overarching plan.
Well, you’ll be doing your agile marketing methods a disservice without a plan in place. If your agile teams are like Tarzan, swinging from vine to vine, eventually there’s going to be a time when the vines take you in the wrong direction, they grab a bad vine that snaps, or they simply run out of vines completely.
Much better to have a roadmap in place with a destination in mind. You’ll be able to chart out different routes to get there, with contingencies in place if you need to take a diversion so you’re able to get back on track.
Having a plan and destination in place also comes in handy once you get there (or, in a worst-case scenario, fail to get there), as it gives you the ability to assess what went right or wrong at different stages so that you can improve moving forwards.
In this article, we’re going to look at how you map out your long-term agile marketing strategies, as well as how you can keep track of things in the short term.
We take a look at:
- Long-term: your agile marketing strategy
- Short-term: mapping out your agile marketing sprints
- The day-to-day: Kanban project boards
Long-term: your agile marketing strategy
Establishing a clear long-term strategy will provide your agile marketing teams with goals to aim for, and clear KPIs so you know if they’re succeeding at their goals.
The time-frame of these goals will usually be based on annual, half-year, or even quarterly cycles, depending on what’s going on with your company. For example, if you have a lot of new product launches coming up throughout the year, you might want to establish shorter-term goals on a quarterly basis. If it’s a “business-as-usual type of year”, you probably don’t need to break things down that much and stick to annual goals.
There’s no harm in going for a hybrid system, with an overall annual goal and strategy, that you then break up into six month or quarterly strategy review cycles.
One thing that doesn’t need to be established are the exact tactics your agile teams are going to use. Agile relies on autonomy and flexibility, so you don’t need to be too rigid, just make it clear what they should be working towards.
So, who sets these goals and builds out those strategies? Well obviously, your marketing leaders will meet and work things out, but it can be extremely valuable to work closely with other department heads from the outset when it comes to building your strategies. That way you can make sure you’re able to offer the required support to your sales team, know when any major updates or new releases for your products are coming out, along with other relevant inputs with relevant departments.
Opening up the conversation this way will also mean your agile marketing teams will have the necessary support they need from other departments.
Once you’ve crafted a satisfactory agile marketing strategy, the job’s not done yet. You can’t just carve it into stone and expect everyone to just work flawlessly on it. You’ll need to regularly review the tactics your agile teams are using to make sure they’re still working towards the goals, and also be flexible to adjust your strategy and goals if unforeseen circumstances disrupt your ability to meet them (if 2020 and 2021 have taught us anything, we need to be prepared for anything!).
Short-term: mapping out your agile marketing sprints
Once you’ve got your long-term goals to work towards, it’s time to break things down into sprints and start mapping out what each agile marketing team is going to be doing in them. You’ll set projects along with assigning tasks to the relevant people that need to be done in order for the project to succeed.
At this stage you’ll establish how many drafts and reviews the projects need before they go live, and who needs to sign-off, and when that needs to be done.
While most agile team structures have a relatively flat hierarchy, you’ll need to be clear who is responsible for what and who has final say.
The projects should be interpretations of how to meet the goals established at the long-term strategic level, with each one contributing in some way to reaching that goal.
However, even at this stage, you won’t necessarily be planning out the intricate details of every sprint. Agile marketing relies on adapting each sprint based on the performance of the previous one, so you’ll likely be making changes along the way.
Having an effective project management tool is very important for this type of planning, as it allows you to see all of the requisite tasks that fit under a project, when they need to be done by, and who exactly is working on them.
This gets even more important if you’re using the Kanban approach to agile marketing...
The day-to-day: Kanban project boards
If you’re using the scrum methodology as your agile marketing framework, it’s likely that the above two levels of planning will be enough, as the scrum master will take care of assigning and monitoring the day to actions in each sprint.
But if you’re following the Kanban approach, things need to be a bit more formalized.
Kanban requires a fairly detailed project management board to track every stage and tasks involved in your sprint.
While setting this up might sound time consuming, in the long run it’s intended to streamline processes and make things more efficient. The members of your agile teams will be able to see exactly what needs to be done on a daily basis, and as such they shouldn’t need instructions or inputs from managers to tell them what to do.
Things will get alot more granular at this level. For example, at the tactical level you might assign copywriting duties to someone for a sprint. They’ll then be expected to take ownership of their approach to completing this task. On a kanban project board, you’ll break this assignment down into specific subtasks that all add up to the completion of that assignment.
Whether you want to get this granular will depend on many factors, such as company size, resources, project scale or even just the personalities and work styles of your teams.
If you want more information on the differences between scrum and kanban agile marketing frameworks, we’ve got you covered.
While controlled chaos might sound like a fun experiment for your approach to agile marketing, it’s important to have plans in place at the different strategic and tactical levels. This will keep your teams on track, make sure they’re coordinating properly with different stakeholders, and allow you to see where there are rooms for improvement.
The level of detail required will be dependent on you and your organization. There isn’t necessarily a one-size fits all approach, it’s more about adapting approaches we’ve discussed to your needs. Need a detailed long-term strategy? Go for it, get into the nitty-gritty details. Is your team struggling to update their kanban project boards? Maybe you should ease up on the granular, and give your team a bit more flexibility
Need help with planning out your agile marketing strategies? Got advice to share from your own successes? Share them on the B2B Marketing Alliance Community!