How to Overcome Common Agile Marketing Barriers in 6 Simple Steps
“Agile marketing can give you your life back,” said Andrea Fryrear, a marketer and writer for Marketergizmo.com, in a recent interview. “Agile can be the way that you are freed up to do great marketing work, but also to have a life outside of your desk and to be able to actually spend more mental energy on doing your work because you’re recharged.”
What would you sacrifice in the short term in order to have your life back over the long term? (Not to mention being more fulfilled, effective, and productive while you’re at work.)
Would you spend a little extra time researching a new way to manage your work? Would you be the cheerleader who spreads enthusiasm for this new approach throughout your organization? Would you dive in and try a few core elements of the system and then take your results to leadership for the stamp of approval?
Your ability to affect lasting change in your organization could be as simple as answering ‘yes’ to the questions above — and following the six steps below. Consider this your roadmap for overcoming the most common barriers to an Agile marketing adoption, as revealed in a new study from Workfront and MarketingProfs.com.
Step 1: Find Your Company’s Agile Pioneers
The percent of marketing teams using Agile today closely mirrors the percent of companies where other departments also use it.
One of the quickest, easiest ways to overcome barriers to an Agile adoption is to work for a company that already has at least one other Agile team. While 30% of marketers say they’re using Agile today, 32% say Agile is being used elsewhere in the company. I don’t think the closeness of these two numbers is coincidental.
If you’re fortunate enough to have an Agile IT department or development team at your company, you already have an internal expert (step 3) and executive buy-in (step 6), which means you’ve got a huge advantage when it comes to researching Agile (step 2) and overcoming the learning curve (step 4). You have an ally on your side who’s already bought into the Agile vision and will likely be willing to guide you through the remaining steps in this process.
If you don’t have any other Agile teams within your company, or you simply don’t know, you’re in good company with 68% of marketers. This gives you the opportunity to be a trailblazer — to revolutionize team productivity and improve individual job satisfaction across the board.
Step 2: Do Your Research
43% of marketers don’t know what Agile is or how it works.
If you’ve made it this far in this article, you’re already a step ahead of many marketers, almost half of whom are unfamiliar with Agile Marketing. Start by reading about the basics of Agile, so you can understand the underlying principles of the approach. Get familiar with the methodology’s unique vocabulary. Look for a few real-life case studies that describe what Agile is capable of.
Then you can graduate to expert resources (like white papers and ebooks) that are available online for free. Talk to other teams who use agile processes, both within the marketing sphere and outside of it. You could even ask fellow marketing professionals on LinkedIn if they know anyone who’s finding success with Agile. They may have a consultant, certification program, or other resource to recommend.
Step 3: Be the Evangelist
29% of marketers don’t have an internal expert to train and implement Agile.
Once you have a general grasp of the promise Agile Marketing could hold for your team, it’s time to start talking about it.
“You really need an internal advocate or educator on your team to kick things off, even if they aren’t certified or a huge subject matter expert,” says Fryrear. “At the very least, they should be someone who is engaged with the topic and willing to push the team forward, a person who can set up the first backlog and arrange the first meeting.”
Select a few forward-thinking individuals from your team to attend a training session or conference with you. Implement aspects of the Agile methodology a little bit at a time, to give you a chance to test the waters, gather relevant data, and attract evangelists to your cause.
Step 4: Just Dive In
19% of marketers struggle to get over the Agile learning curve.
Workfront creative director Dave Lesue, who made the switch from traditional to Agile processes three years ago, recommends that you don’t try to adopt every piece of Agile at once. But you do have to just dive in and start playing with it, before you can truly understand its potential.
Lesue recommends starting with three simple steps: establish your Backlog, prioritize your Backlog using Story Points, and start holding Sprint Planning Meetings. This will provide a solid foundation for you to build upon as you gain further understanding and training.
Step 5: Rely on Work Management Software
18% of marketers lack the right tools to go Agile.
Sure, you can manage a transition to Agile using a whiteboard and sticky notes that you physically move from one phase to the next (also known as a Burndown Chart). But this tends to work best for teams that share the same physical space, with a clear and constant view of that whiteboard.
Even then, your stakeholders will have to personally visit your floor to keep informed of where things stand, unless you take the time to send email updates or regularly text snapshots of the whiteboard. If you have any remote workers or contractors on your team, the lack of visibility becomes an even bigger problem.
Using work management software that has built-in Agile capabilities will make your transition seamless and transparent — and you won’t have to replace an entire wall of your office with a whiteboard. If you choose the right solution, you’ll also have access to an implementation specialist who can help you customize your process, facilitate team training, and answer any questions you have. In fact, relying on experts who design processes for a living will make steps 2–4 relatively effortless for you.
Step 6: Make the Case to Leadership
17% of marketers lack buy-in from leadership, while 11% lack buy-in from their team.
The fifth biggest barrier to Agile that was mentioned in our survey was a lack of support from leadership — a much bigger problem than lack of team buy-in. But that begs the question: have the other four barriers already been overcome? If your executive team has never had an Agile team on staff, if they don’t know what Agile is or how it works, and if there’s no internal evangelist arguing for it, they have no earthly reason to be on board with the idea. That’s where you come in.
If your boss is open to change and willing to experiment, this article might be all the ammunition you need. But if you work for a company with firmly entrenched processes, you may have to follow Lesue’s advice:
“Don’t ask for permission. Start implementing bits and pieces of the Agile methodology, so you have some real-world data when you’re ready to make the case for a full-scale transition.”
If you walk in showing a 252% increase in page views and an 810% increase in conversions, as Fryrear did less than two months after making the move to Agile marketing, there won’t need to be much of a conversation.