What Is Agile Marketing?

I’ve heard many marketers discuss agile marketing, but I’ve never actually seen it in action. In last week’s presentation at the Mid-Atlantic Marketing Summit, Laura Taylor, President of Silverline Communications and Chris Tomassian, an agile coach at Excella shared a case study for agile marketing.

For those familiar with agile on the software development side, the premise is the same. The agile methodology can apply to any practice, such as marketing – especially if there’s a desire for continuous improvement.

If this is a new concept to you it’s important to know the vocabulary. There are several types of agile frameworks used by various organizations, such as Scrum (used by 18% of practitioners), Kanban (13%), Lean (12.7%) and hybrid (44% use multiple agile methodologies).

Laura’s team at Silverline is using the Kanban methodology, which focuses on prioritization and continuous delivery – without requiring major changes to work processes at the beginning.

The speakers mentioned that most marketers don’t embrace agile for agile’s sake. Instead, they use agile to achieve a higher performance in pursuit of a higher purpose. But Chris was quick to point out that agile isn’t a silver bullet, and it can shine a light on workplace dysfunction or areas of inefficiency (which can be difficult).

Originally, all of Silverline’s employees worked independently on their own large list of tasks, but normal interruptions to an individual’s day negatively impacted delivery time and client satisfaction.

Now, having implemented the Kanban methodology (a process that took 4-6 months), the organization works with more of a team-orientation and is comfortable testing and failing fast.

What is Kanban?

  • A way to visualize the work (Silverline posts the list of tasks on a public Kanban board).
  • A methodology that helps clarify the workflow processes and sets “rules of engagement.” For instance, Silverline sets work in progress (WIP) limits. These limits encourage workers to prioritize work, finish something before starting the next thing, and avoid excessive multi-tasking.
  • A framework that helps to manage the work. Silverline creates tickets for open tasks and tracks ticket completion. Now Silverline knows with certainty how long it takes to finish any type of task, such as a blog post or other marketing project.
  • A focus on continuous improvement that requires transparency, inspection and adaptation.

The main takeaway for me was how important it is to focus on project completion. I’ve always considered myself an excellent multi-tasker, but I must admit this strategy means that some days I don’t finish as much as I would like.

Thanks to Silverline and Excella for sharing how the agile methodology is relevant to modern day marketers. It was an excellent session!

Let’s talk.