agile processes

Understanding Agile Marketing

Something tells me that in early February you probably weren’t predicting a global pandemic. Trust me, I wasn’t either. I am going to go ahead and make the assumption that not many of us were predicting it.

So far, it appears some organizations have weathered the changing tides better than others. 

I might be a little bit biased here, but I would put Modthink in the category of companies that have proven resilient and versatile during the pandemic. More importantly, our clients have had some big wins over the last few months. 

I can’t give you the entire recipe, but I can give you one of the key ingredients to the Modthink Secret Sauce (patent pending): Agile Marketing.

The agile methodology has allowed us to move faster in fast times. We have been able to pivot our strategies on a weekly, sometimes daily basis. 

Below is a quick overview of Agile Marketing and the key terms you need to know to start experimenting with this methodology in your own company or organization. 

Where did Agile come from?

The origin of agile methodologies is difficult to trace, but most people credit Japanese car manufacturer Toyota. A 2016 Harvard Business Review article elaborates on the origins of the agile methodology. 

However, our method at Modthink is most similar to what was done by technology companies in the early 2000s. Traditionally, tech companies would identify a problem and then start planning their solution to that problem. These plans might take a long time to design, a process that hindered adaptability to evolving circumstances.

This is where agile comes in. Agile adopts the mindset of creating minimum viable products (MVPs) so that projects can get to market faster, feedback can be collected more quickly, and new features and benefits can then be added. Shorter timelines mean companies can design, develop, and test more rapidly, speeding up workflows without quality taking a hit.

What is Agile Marketing?

In more recent times, marketers have taken the agile methodologies used in the tech industry and adapted them for marketing purposes. CoSchedule describes Agile Marketing as a project management framework that enables cross-functional teams to deliver on high-value projects by continuously improving processes and tactics to better solve problems. 

Basically, by streamlining team structure, communication, and workflows, agile allows teams to increase efficiency without compromising on quality work. Marketers are able to try new things, innovate, test, make data-based decisions, and identify better ways to move forward—more quickly than before.  

What are the benefits of Agile Marketing?

These are some of the primary benefits Modthink has enjoyed from implementing agile:

  • Greater innovation through rapid testing and prototyping
  • Continuous improvement
  • Greater transparency between our agency and our clients

picture, video, website landing page all connected with arrowsSpeaking of greater innovation, being able to work in fast, iterative cycles allows us to take big ideas and mold them into an MVP. We can then ship these ideas and track how well they perform. From there we can decide what improvements would bring us closer to our overall goal, and these changes can then be incorporated into future cycles. 

The way they’re designed, these iterative cycles help us to continuously improve the “product” (product, in this instance, might be a process, workflow, or service), another primary benefit we’ve seen from agile. 

Finally, there’s greater transparency. Not only are our clients welcome on daily “scrum” meetings, but these clients are also part of major strategic and planning meetings. Agile lets us work out in the open, where clients can readily see our progress and results.  

How is Agile Marketing implemented?

Epic Meeting

An agile project starts with a kickoff meeting. In this first meeting, Modthink and the client discuss the project, its context, and the overall goal. We call this the Epic Meeting (super cool, we know). This is where we take the client’s “what” and “why” for the project and add the “how.” Essentially, the Epic Meeting allows everyone to get on the same page—to understand what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve it, and how we are going to achieve it.

Finding Your One Metric that Matters

One of the most important early steps in the agile process is establishing the “one metric that matters” (1MTM). This single numerical goal is the one outcome a client most wants for his or her business at its current stage. The 1MTM helps Modthink and its clients set clear goals, focus on what matters, and measure progress.

x = 1MTM: list of metrics to determine your agile goal

When setting a 1MTM, we make sure it’s a S.M.A.R.T goal: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Digital marketing guru Neil Patel breaks down the specifics of the 1MTM and how to choose one on his blog.

Time to establish your Sprint

Once we establish a 1MTM, Modthink divides work toward that goal into “sprints.” An agile sprint is a 2-3 week block of time that concentrates attention on the completion of a specific sub-goal that, when achieved, moves the team closer to the 1MTM. 

For example, if your 1MTM is to rank higher on an annual national ranking, the first sprint might involve researching the basis for the ranking and establishing a stronger social media presence.

Sprints put a timeframe to the iterative cycles your team should be working through. They allow your team to be on the same page about the necessary tasks and deliverables. We choose to use a “kanban” to visualize how our deliverables are moving along during our sprints. This is another great way to gain visibility into your projects and to easily identify roadblocks.

Daily Stand Up Meetings

Daily stand-up meetings, or scrums, are another essential feature of the agile process. Prior to COVID-19, anyway, the team would stand in a circle and each member would go over what they did for the project in the last 24 hours, what they are doing the next 24 hours, and any roadblocks they have. 

to-do, roadblock, done: agile marketing kanban board

These meetings should be 15 minutes max, but we have often found that, once the team is well-oiled and moving along nicely, they can be less than 10 minutes. In a virtual world, sub standing in a circle for a Zoom room and it works virtually the same. Just make sure the conversation stays focused, and it will be just as effective as being in person!

Product Reviews and Retros

Time to wrap up the sprint. The team has done amazing work, and now you can showcase it! In agile nomenclature, this is a “product review.” It’s an opportunity to go back through all deliverables from the sprint to determine what did well and what didn’t. This puts the team in a strong position for the next sprint (remember that whole continuous improvement thing).

There’s also a “retro” (short for retrospective) held at the end of each sprint. This meeting is focused more on processes than deliverables. The team identifies what went well, what didn’t go well, and what needs to improve. A lot of action items should come out of this meeting, for instance, needing better analytics or allowing more time for clients to review content before publishing. These action items should then be implemented in the next sprint.

Now what?

Now the cycle starts over! You’re ready for your next sprint planning meeting. 

While this guide will help you get started, expect many bumps along the road. Agile is about taking a framework and adapting it to best suit your organization. It is also about working smarter not harder. 

If you are ready to engage our team of agile marketers to raise your organization’s profile, use our contact form to reach out. One of our team members will get in touch…and we’ll get started on your own agile project. 

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