Agile Marketing Webinar Recap: Advice From Two Pros - Part 3

April 26, 2017 Marcus Varner

In a recent webinar, Agile marketing experts David Lesue and Andrea Fryrear explain the basics of Agile marketing. What follows is the third in a three-part recap of the webinar. If you want to watch the entire webinar on demand, click here.

Dave: Before I started doing this, I found that I was being pulled into status meetings, I was being asked questions throughout the week, just basic status questions, and I was wasting a lot of time in those meetings answering those questions.

Once I decided to make this public and put it up on a monitor outside of our cubicles, a lot of those discussions went away really quickly because the requesters were getting the answers to the questions that they had, in terms of status.

This can be uncomfortable for people. When I speak about Scrum at different conferences, I get a lot of questions at the end of my presentation, and a lot of them center around this. This level of transparency sounds great, but it makes some people uncomfortable. I really encourage you to do it.

Even if you don’t pull in any other concept, just pulling in the concept of really radical transparency in terms of what your team is working on, what they’re doing, and what’s coming next will save you a lot of time.

Then, throughout the week, as we are sprinting and working on our work, we hold daily stand-up meetings. You do this first thing in the morning. The idea is that you keep it as brief as possible, as Andrea mentioned. That’s why it’s called the stand-up. You don’t sit.

You invite the core team to those meetings, the members of your team as well as requesters. The idea there is that you’re identifying roadblocks, and if there are any problems that need to be solved, you take those offline to be solved at a later date.

The idea there is that you don’t want to waste the time of everyone in the meeting. You see this a lot with big, multi-status meetings, where you have 20 people in a room. It’s an hour or two hours long, and only five minutes of the meeting have anything to do with you as an individual.

The idea with daily stand-ups is that you’re just pulling as much process as you need and getting rid of everything else, so the idea is that they should be very, very quick.

When you have the daily stand-ups, you’re answering three questions.

These are the three questions that I’m having my team answer whenever we do these:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What are you going to do today?
  3. Are there any roadblocks?

The last thing I want to cover is the last component of Scrum that my team uses, which is the sprint retrospective. This comes at the end of the sprint.

Like I said, our sprints are a week long. At the end of our sprints, we come together as a team, and we have a review of how that sprint went in terms of process. It’s not about looking at what you produced. It’s about reviewing how it was produced.

The idea is that you should be identifying ways that you can improve process as a team, and you should treat process as an ongoing experiment and make at least one change.

The thing I love about this is that it helps process be a ground-up team effort instead of top-down, where this team leader is telling you what to do even though he doesn’t really understand how things work. It makes process a team effort instead of a demand.

As you start treating it as an experiment, as you start making tweaks, over time your team will optimize their workflow, just organically, and you’ll get much, much more accurate, efficient, and fast.

I have this “Why Agile?” section. Andrea already covered this, but I want to frame it again before I give you the example that I’m going to show you. Everything I just covered was very tactical, but this goes back to the high-level reason why.

Traditionally, Waterfall, which many, many marketing teams use to manage their work, is: we plan, we design, we produce, we deliver, and only then, at the end, do we learn.

This can be tough. I’ve seen this happen with big campaigns. You get a bunch of smart people in a room, you come up with a really good concept, and everybody agrees that it’s going to be great, and a lot of the time it is, and it does produce the results you’re looking for.

But sometimes—you’ve seen this, right—campaigns crash and burn, and by the time you realize that it’s not producing the results that you were looking for, it’s almost too late.

You’ve already spent all the money. You’ve bought the placements. You’ve done all the work. You’ve hired the agency. You’ve created all the creative and the assets and everything. The time for learning has passed.

It’s too late, right?

What I love about Agile is that it is very helpful at the tactical level that I just covered in terms of managing your work, but at the strategic level, too, it allows you to iterate and learn as you go so that you can learn that a campaign isn’t working early, and you can make corrections that will save you a lot of time and a lot of money.

Let me give you one example from my team on how we’ve used this and how it’s been successful for us, but before I do, I just want to cover this concept. This is what I love, maybe the most, about Agile and about Scrum specifically. It allows you to course-correct.

A lot of teams start with the campaign idea, and they say, “This campaign is going to get us from A to B.” They execute on it, and they get to the end, and only at the end do they realize, “Oh, this wasn’t the right campaign. We shouldn’t have been shooting for B. We should have been shooting for C,” but it’s too late, like I said.

Agile, with its iterative approach, allows you to learn as you go, and you can course-correct, much like a flight.

You’ve heard the stat that any commercial airplane, while it’s in the air, is off-course 90 percent of the time. They’re constantly course-correcting, just because there are so many different variables, like the wind and things like that, that are pushing the plane off course, and it needs to course-correct throughout its flight.

Traditional marketing doesn’t allow campaigns to do that, and Agile does. That’s one of the benefits of it.

Let me show you this example. We, as a team, try to spend a lot of time looking for and testing for the right campaign creative and the right messaging. We put a lot of different ideas out there to see what works, what resonates with our audience.

These are just six examples. These are six different ebooks that my team has put out over the past few years. As you can see, visually they’re very different. In terms of the tone, they’re all very different. Some of them are very fun. Some of them are very serious.

The idea here is that we were looking and we were testing. Before we were going to spend a ton of time, energy, and money developing campaign creative without realizing whether or not it was going to work, we wanted to just create one asset, put it out there, see if it worked, and then go from there.

Using this process, we had a number of these that crashed and burned. They didn’t produce the results that we were looking for, and so we didn’t continue on with that particular creative or message.

One that did work out very well for us was this. This is a campaign that we ran a couple of years ago called “The Working Dead.” It was a spin on The Walking Dead, which was very popular at the time. We were pinpointing specific pains within the workplace, pains that we could solve as a company and as a product.

When we started out, I can’t remember if it was the infographic first or the ebook, but we just created one asset and put it out there, and it worked really well. The audience responded very well. The market responded to it very well.

Then, we decided to produce another one and another one. By the time we finished that year, we had this full-blown campaign that grew very organically.

We shot a series of videos that we used, along with ebooks, white papers, infographics, and just a whole spectrum of different assets that we produced which made up this campaign.

The reason, in the end, why it was successful was because we used an Agile approach. We didn’t say, “This is the idea, and we know it’s going to work,” and then went out and created everything.

We started small and learned as we went. We made tweaks to it along the way. By the time we finished the campaign, it was very successful for us, and those pieces that we created still perform very well for us because we went through that process of vetting.

To watch the "Intro To Agile Marketing" webinar on demand, featuring David Lesue and Andrea Fryrear, click here.

About the Author

Marcus Varner

Marcus is a content strategist and producer who loves helping brands craft content that improves customers' lives, builds brand credibility, and demands to be shared. For the last 10 years, Marcus has worked in every type of content—from writing to video production to design—and is currently a senior content marketing manager at Workfront, where he oversees all corporate- and awareness-level level content. When he's not producing content, he's consuming it, in the form of books, movies, and podcasts.

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