Lisa and I spent four days at a marketing workshop and conference this week. On day one we met an enlightened guy from Portugal, Michel Ozzello, Product Manager for OutSystems. After showing Michel the Agile board the software engineers use, he asked if we have applied the same approach to marketing. We stared blankly….”well, no.”
I thought about that for the next four days.
Software engineering uses Agile/SCRUM development to break huge, overwhelming product releases into smaller chunks. These chunks, called user stories, are coded and tested according to the logic of the product roadmap and how many can fit into a short release cycle, called a sprint. This approach has two main advantages over traditional software development: it maximizes the team’s ability to deliver quickly and to respond to emerging requirements.
So how does this apply to marketing? For us, the deliverable is the tangible vehicle (a web page, a brochure, a speech at a conference) that drives demand for our products and services. But the market pains are so many, and the vehicles we can use to reach the market are so diverse, so expensive, and so labor intensive (think trade show, email campaign, 12 different versions of collateral, direct mail, webcasts, surveys, call campaigns, advertising, speaking opportunities, promotions, and NOW we have social media opportunities too!) With a 1 or 2 person shop, it can easily get very overwhelming. That’s where agile comes in.
Old school software development followed the waterfall method, which is highly structured, process oriented, and covers a broad scope of requirements. The marketing equivalent is the “Annual Marketing Plan” which attempts to map out all the details, coordinates, intersections, content and milestones of everything marketing will do this year to build brand and drive sales. It’s really overwhelming and by Q2 many elements have already changed.
The DAXKO Association marketing team is ready for a fundamental shift. We are going for Agile.
Lisa and I walked all over Boston yesterday in search of index cards to begin the exercise. 1,184 miles later (flying, not walking around looking for index cards) we have our major “user stories” written out for Website, Email, Social Media, Collateral, Lead Nurturing, Advertising, PR, Events, and Metrics. The idea is that we can break our big jobs down into smaller bits and COMMIT to having them delivered in a specific timeframe.
We expect that we’ll get much more done faster, and be more aware of the tradeoffs at any given moment of choosing one priority over another. Now we just need our own SCRUM board (Justin, how about another trip to North Birmingham?!?)