Why the Agile Method is Necessary for Your Marketing Team

Agile marketing and agile methodology are terms that are receiving a lot of attention currently. Businesses are interested in agile methods, especially as they pertain to marketing practices, but few people seem to know what the agile method is. If you search “agile marketing” on Wikipedia, nothing will come up. That’s because agile marketing is an new adaptation of the agile method, which was originally developed as a strategy by software developers.

In the world of software development, the traditional waterfall method of accomplishing tasks could backlog software for years, and by the time the product is set to be released, the market will have moved on. So the software development community instituted a plan of action that allowed them to keep up with market changes: the agile method.

The world of marketing is now looking much like the software development market just years ago: incredibly fast moving. There is a definite need for speed in modern marketing. Information can be spread so quickly on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and in the blogosphere, that the old methods of market response are too slow—archaic really.

Creating an Agile Marketing Team

Adapting to the incredible speed of modern information sharing is not as difficult as it may sound. The agile method uses four key values that are easily implemented:

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. A working product over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

The agile method allows marketers to adapt quickly to change, as they are unhindered by cumbersome negotiations, long term plans, and documentation. It allows marketing teams to be agile.

When working on a marketing project, instead of focusing on long term goals, the agile method instead focuses on sprints, which is a period of time between one week and one month. By breaking up projects into sprints, teams can focus on immediate tasks and goals. If there are longer term goals that cannot be met in the current sprint, put them into a backlog list to be included in the next sprint. Before each sprint session starts, the marketing team holds a sprint planning session, in which they decide how much they can handle during the sprint.

My company does this by breaking up the monthly client budget by our hourly rates. By doing this we can see how many hours we can devote to each client in each sprint, then we divide those hours into tasks (based on the goals for the sprint), which might look like this:

  • 2 hours of research
  • 2 hours of article writing
  • 2 hours of editing

The tasks are then kept all in one place, we use a program called Trello, but this can be done manually on a (giant) task board. This process allows us to know exactly how our hours will be used during each sprint. The key is to break up tasks into small increments (30 minutes-2 hours). This allows team members to switch tasks several times a day, and work across projects.

SCRUM

The key to dividing those tasks up between team members during a sprint is SCRUM meetings. SCRUMs take place on a daily basis, and are meetings with all project team members. There is a SCRUM master who keeps the conversation on task, and asks three questions of every member:

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

Typical answers look something like this: I worked 2 hours on project X, and 4 hours on project Y, and I am dealing with Z as a roadblock.

The SCRUM process avoids lengthy documentation, and keeps everyone on the same page. If every team member knows what the others are working on for the day, it eliminates the possibility of miscommunication. SCRUMs also make everyone aware of potential problems, which helps the team correct them before the project fails, and no one person is drowning alone. Since every team member is a part of the sprint planning process, everyone is up to date on goals and tasks for each project, which allows all team members to work across all projects. SCRUMs also allow the team leader to identify strengths and weaknesses in the team, based on what was and was not accomplished.

At the end of the SCRUM the SCRUM master assigns each team member a list of tasks (2 hours of research for project X and 4 hours of writing for project Y), based on what is left on the task board. This keeps everyone accountable to their projects and on track. When a team member finishes a task they can cross it off the task board, which gives everyone a good, visual indication of what has been done and what still needs to be done.

This process allows everyone to work collaboratively on every project, which creates the ability to respond quickly to change. If, for example, project work for a certain client falls behind, the entire team can devote a day or two to the project in order to catch up. And responding quickly to change is the purpose of agile marketing and the agile method. If your team is struggling in the collaboration department, there are plenty of productivity collaboration tools that can help you identify the weakness in your collaborative communication. At the end of each sprint there is a sprint review meeting, in which the team reviews the work that was and was not completed and presents the completed work to the client.

The marketing sector has seen much change, but there is certainly more to come. Make sure your marketing team is agile and adaptable to change, because your success likely hinges upon it.

Creating a Concept: Thinking Like a Guerrilla Marketer

It is believed that on average an individual will come across upwards of 10 guerrilla marketing advertisements in a single day. A direct mail piece in your mail, your morning paper has a free coupon, the bus your riding has an advertisement along the side, a promo rep at the subway distributing product samples. Four instances and it’s still only 8.55am.

What is therefore important for any guerrilla marketer is the pre-event process, creating your strategy and identifying how you will stand out from the crowd. Guerrilla marketers are now not only competing with traditional marketing methods, but an abundance of other guerrilla methods.

A unique and cost effective strategy is acting out a public stunt. Public stunts enable a company to turn heads in a creative manner, whilst touching on their image and identity. For any businesses wishing to plan a public stunt, here are a few factors to carefully consider.

Budget

Set your budget…….and then half it. Don’t start planning with a $$ sign as your boundary. Often the money allocated is all you can think about. Challenge yourself to think about your options with a smaller budget first. This will enable you to think more about the purity of the stunt, and what could really turn heads. When you have a rough idea, open your full budget up again to continue planning, it will be a luxury!

Don’t force it

Creative juices often flow at the most obscure times, let it come naturally it’s not time sensitive!

Feeding the creative juices

When you have started to roll a few ideas around, make a conscious effort to open your peripheral vision. Look at how people interact and consider how you could incorporate your brand into an everyday aspect of life, with a fun and innovative twist.

Take a day off

Let your brain rest for a few days, often a guerrilla thinks about an idea for too long and becomes emotionally attached to it, believing it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Have a few days of non-brainstorming, and when you revisit your idea(s) you’ll have a clearer head, and be able to make a better judgment. In addition to this, there is every chance it will be during your ‘day off’ whilst relaxing you miraculously have that final moment of inspiration you’ve been looking for to make your stunt go from good to great.

Don’t be too conservative

The beauty of the industry is that it is one of the last standing that encourages the outrageous, the fun and the general outside the box thinking. If you’re going to adopt this method of marketing don’t be afraid to push the limits.

Balance

Make sure you have a good balance of stunt and distribution. A public stunt will definitely lour the public in, but without a ‘takeaway’ being distributed, awareness of the product is really not being generated. Having staff split into both a stunt team and a distribution team is a great way to ensure there is appropriate balance.

Why Guerrilla Marketing Is More Relevant Than Ever

“When I find myself in times of trouble/ Mother Mary comforts me…/ Speaking words of wisdom, Let it be…” – The Beatles

I think we can all agree that the economy is still in a time of trouble, and while the Beatles give great advice for riding out a broken heart, my words of wisdom right now are to not let your marketing efforts just be- it’s time to go guerrilla.

Guerrilla marketing works outside of the mainstream, making a disruptive impression that gets a brand or business noticed, and in an extended period of economic downturn, that gets even more important. That’s why guerrilla marketing is more relevant than ever- finding a cost-effective way to stand out from the crowd is what guerrilla is all about. Here’s the

Why Guerrilla Marketing is More Relevant Than Ever:

  1. GEO-TARGETING/ LOCALIZATION: In a down economy, any business needs to focus on holding onto its local customer base. Any small to medium-sized business can reach their immediate community at specific places, times, and events- guerrilla tactics exist to do just that. Nothing has a better chance of zooming directly in onto the target consumer or demographic than guerrilla marketing and its various techniques (outdoor postering, street teams, video projections).
  2. OFFLINE/ONLINE: At the same time that the economy has taken a nosedive, social media use has taken off. People are on social networks, and the relationships are becoming more and more integrated into everyday life. Guerrilla social media tactics can be targeted, inexpensive, and very personalized, and coordinated with offline street team work.  Think couponing on foursquare, or “text-to” campaigns incorporated into postering or flyering campaigns. What about Bluetooth? We should not forget how Bluetooth transmission can be 100% guerrilla while being entirely pervasive.
  3. ROI: Guerrilla marketing has always delivered at a lower price-point than traditional advertising and marketing efforts, and that makes it an even more critical element of marketing when you need to stretch your dollar.  See #2 regarding social networks. Taking a guerrilla campaign and giving it a digital bump allows you to more effectively measure ROI, and that means as a medium it can compete with more traditional spends by speaking the same CPM/CPC/CPA metrics.
  4. AGENCY-FRIENDLY: As guerrilla marketing has grown and been used more and more, agencies have gotten used to thinking about it as part of their approach. For larger companies talking with their agencies about the marketing mix, bringing up and working in guerrilla tactics as a way to stay effective while cutting costs will be well received.  Being the guy/girl in the room with a solution when news that the ad/marketing budget has been slashed will make for a very popular person, and who doesn’t want to be the darling of the ball.
  5. PUNCHING THROUGH: Guerrilla tactics are designed to punch through the noise and be disruptive. That is even more effective and exciting when much of that noise is bad news about the economy.  Guerrilla stops people in their tracks, whether it be outdoor postering, projections, mock protests or flash mobs.  That was the goal of traditional marketing and advertising in the era of Mad Men and it still is today.  With billboards flanking us everywhere we go, and taxitops and bus shelters play support roles, that impact is threatened.  Guerrilla is the new frontier for influence.

So what are you waiting for, go out and be a guerrilla!