Category Archives: Agile Marketing

A Kanban for Marketing Board Example

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minute

(originally posted on the agilesparks blog)

Here is an example of a fairly typical Marketing Kanban board which can be useful for marketing teams that are taking their first steps towards implementing agile marketing in practice using kanban.

You can print it out and use it as a source of ideas & inspiration as you evolve your own board.

It is a slightly modified version of Henrik Kniberg’s Kanban Kick-Start Example that he graciously shared using a creative-commons license. Why do we need a marketing version you ask? Because we find that people connect better to examples in their own domain so talking about code and development doesn’t really work well with marketers… Feel free to take this one and adapt it for your use and share alike! (Here’s a powerpoint version you can edit)

PS Interested in learning more about how to use Kanban in Marketing? I talk quite a bit about Kanban including help marketers create their own Kanban boards in my Agile Marketing class. Next opportunity to take the class publicly is July 24-25 in Boston. This class is also available in-house where it’s possible to really get a Kanban board going and ready for action…

 

Agile Marketing Validation Board

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

 “Validated Learning Over Opinions and Conventions”

A couple of weeks ago I was helping kickoff a team of 8-10 Agile Marketing teams. The kickoff spanning a couple of days includes:

  • Agile Marketing training
  • High level planning of their first quarter
  • Iteration planning for their first agile iteration

While doing this I saw some gaps between the training and the actual planning around the whole validation/experimentation/learning thing. In other words the difference between increments and iterations.

It’s not iterating if you’re not inspecting and possibly adapting along the way.

Taking a big campaign and breaking it into small tasks and planning two weeks at a time is one step towards Agile Marketing.

Running demos to show what you’ve accomplished and daily scrums to help manage the progress is a second step.

That’s just a glimpse of what Agile Marketing is really about.

This is why when we got to high level planning I felt something was missing from how the teams were planning. They were working on an MVP BOM – A Minimally Viable Program Bill Of Materials describing the minimum aspects of the campaign/program they were focusing on.

It was a good start to focus on smaller more minimal programs/campaigns and working incrementally. But I felt the iterative/learning message was missing from the discussion once we moved from theory to practice.

Let’s Use A Lean Startup Validation Board

At that point I recalled the “Lean Startup Validation Board“. I first learned about the Validation Board and practiced using it as a mentor in a “Lean Startup Machine” event back in Tel Aviv. It is a practical hands on planning tool that focuses you on what you don’t know and need to learn.

Lean Startup Validation Board

In the classic Lean Startup context it should help you in your search for a Product Market Fit. You start by identifying your hypothesis around who are your potential customers, what’s the problem you think they have, and what solution might fit their need. You then try to think what are your core assumptions that would need to be true in order for all your hypothesis to be true.

It’s all about risks

You then look for the riskiest assumption – the one you feel might be the first one to bring your house of cards down. Then you structure experiments/validated learning around that. If your experiment validates your assumption you move to the next assumption. If it invalidates it you need to pivot to another set of hypothesis’s and start the core assumptions validation process again.

Is This Product Management Tool Good For Agile Marketing?

Mostly, yes! The minimum tweaking I would do is to change from “Solution Hypothesis” to “Marketing Solution Hypothesis”. When I say Marketing Solution I include things like channel or message.

An example of a channel hypothesis might be – “we think that Snapchat can be a useful marketing channel for us”. A messaging hypothesis might be “During a snow storm people would really connect to messages regarding vacations in warm places”. 

After Finding Product Market Fit – Search For A Streamlined Customer’s Journey

An Agile Marketing team is many times focused on scaling/growing revenue (After Product Market Fit was already found/established). So these teams are focused on finding new creative ways to reach more people in the identified market and optimizing their customer’s journey.

So if you’re serious about Agile Marketing, don’t just plan tasks. Plan experiments aimed at validating assumptions. Plan to learn. Plan to iterate.

 

 

 

Are we there yet? Assessing Agile Marketing Maturity

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

This was originally published over at the AgileSparks Blog where my colleagues and I are now blogging pretty frequently. 

In a recent Agile Marketing Meetup in Boston we tried to figure out how mature are the Agile Marketing teams/organizations out there. Last week I helped facilitate a third quarterly Agile planning event (also known as SAFe PI Planning or Big Room Planning) for a group of agile marketers I’ve been working with for the past year. This was a good opportunity to ask this question.

To help facilitate the discussion I created a maturity depth assessment. I took our Lean/Agile Depth Assessment  and adjusted it to the context of Agile Marketing by looking at the Agile Marketing Manifesto. The result is a set of dimensions aligned with the Agile Marketing Manifesto as well as some deeper Lean Thinking aspects that are missing from the manifesto.

What we then did in the quarterly planning meeting was to quickly introduce this concept and then run a quick finger-vote check for each dimension asking the group where they think they were in the journey between “Not/Barely Started” to “Crushing it consistently” (Scale inspired by Mike Burrows’s AgendaShift).

BTW We initially planned to survey the group about each specific question in the survey but we sensed it was a bit too much for a Friday afternoon. Surveying for the dimensions while giving some color to what they mean by reading some of the specific criteria turned out to be a quick and valuable compromise.

After establishing where we thought we were, we asked ourselves which areas do we feel were the biggest gaps for us. This drove a fascinating discussion about how our planning process should look like, how it should balance the long-lead-time needs of marketing organizations with keeping options open and deferring commitment.

Despite the Friday afternoon “death slot” standing between the marketers and their flight homes (or drive up to the mountain to go skiing…) the discussion was lively and heated. Which was a good sign.

PS If you want a copy of the Agile Marketing Depth Assessment send me an email at yuval@agilesparks.com.

This was originally published over at the AgileSparks Blog where my colleagues and I are now blogging pretty frequently. 

The Ideal Agile Marketing Tool

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Tools for Agile Marketing seems to be the hot topic in the various Agile Marketing communities. The Marketing Agility Podcast is talking to some tool vendors and people started to discuss it on the  Agile Marketing Facebook Group as well.

Here’s my view on what would be a great tool supporting Agile Marketing:

  • It would talk marketer’s language. Not force marketers to learn the language of development/IT.
  • It would be flexible. Marketers are not following Scrum to the letter. It should enable marketers to follow lean/agile principles without forcing the wrong practices.
  • It would be visual and beautiful because marketers appreciate those things. It wouldn’t bog down people with too many grids and lists and instead use more “Boards”.
  • It would support dynamic teams not just fixed scrum teams. Because that happens in Marketing. (also in Development btw)
  • It would support a combination of Scrum, Kanban without forcing you to choose one or the other.
  • It would allow different teams in the organization easily adapt their area in the tool to support their own process.
  • It would TEACH marketers how to think about lean/agile flow/behavior. As a complement to frontal training, the tool should pro-actively support changing marketing culture to support agility.
  • Marketers spend even more of their time doing “Keep the lights on” activities such as cleaning up leads, monitoring campaigns, running webinars etc. A great tool would find an effective way not just to take that into account but also to help them manage those activities more effectively. Some of the Personal Kanban body of knowledge can help here.
  • Marketing Agility starts with individuals and can scale to hundreds of people. Not all tools need to support scale. But if the organizational agile tool can help the individual marketer become more agile it would help with adoption of the tool and agile marketing in general.
  • Emphasize simplicity, ease of use, streamlined flows. Otherwise it won’t stick. Having a situation where you have special people working the tool because the actual marketers won’t touch it with a stick is unacceptable (true story I heard in a recent meetup). It should take minutes to onboard a new team. It should take seconds for a marketer to add new work or move work along.
  • Integration into the other main tools of the 21st century marketer. Integration into email is one key thing. SalesForce when we start to talk about Account Based Marketing? Marketo/Hubspot/etc.? Integration into collaboration tools such as Slack/Flowdock?
  • It should provide some actionable insights – e.g. these items have been in flight for quite a while, worth looking at them in your next daily-stand-up. These items took a long time to cross the finish line – maybe worth discussing them in a retrospective/five-whys session. These items ping ponged a lot between states – worth looking at. There seems to be a lot queueing up for the designer. mmmm. maybe you should look at that (and suggest some tips along the lines of the theory of constraints five focusing steps). Why is it important to marketers? actually the more of those insights agile tools include the better it would be for everybody not just marketers. But since marketers are new to this agile thing, and many marketers aren’t necessarily process-oriented, this can help them along. (If they don’t have a lean/agile coach close by that is 😉

Consider this take 1. There’s probably more to think about when considering agile marketing tooling. I’ll add more when I think of it or see the need with the teams/organizations I’m working with.

 

 

Develop on Cadence – Deliver on Demand – The Agile Marketing Version

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Recently I participated in a steering discussion for one of the large-scale agile marketing implementations I’m consulting. We’re using a marketing variant of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) there – including planning and executing on a quarterly cadence using Program Increments (PIs).

A key struggle that surfaced was: “Planning the quarter just a week or two before it starts is way too late for us since we have so many long-lead-time activities that support us – things like media buys & field event logistics. Can we plan the quarter earlier in the quarter? Should we consider planning the quarter a quarter in advance? “

My take on this is that when we plan the Program Increment we plan whatever work we need to do in that time period. Some of that work will be delivered throughout the quarter & some would be delivered in the next quarter or even later (e.g. when working on the huge annual customer event). The key question to ask is from a Cost of Delay perspective when will we reach the last reponsible moment to start developing the campaign/program and if that moment is in the upcoming quarter it needs to be considered as part of the planning.

Another way to look at some of these activities is as Enablers (Another SAFe concept) – we do them now to enable us to deliver later. At each point in time some of our capacity would be dedicated to the “Runway” which is work that enables later delivery. (This is called Architectural Runway in canonical SAFe but that name is not very appropriate to the Marketing world I guess…).

NOTE – If we find too much of our capacity is dedicated to “Runway” activities it is an indication that our time to market is probably quite long since most deliveries require multiple quarters to mature. We should look at the main reasons we need to use the “Runway” and start to think about ways to minimize the lead time/overheads associated with them.

An example – Purchasing Media for the whole year due to “Economies of Scale”. Does that mean we need to plan media usage for all campaigns almost a year in advance? Or is there an effective way to purchase the media and figure out the most effective use once we actually start to plan out the details for each campaign/activity throughout the year?

This is just one example of the “Lost In Translation” effect when applying Agile in Marketing. What I find helps is remembering the principles/models (That’s part of my role here – making sure people understand lean/agile deeper – beyond the superficial Scrum Master/Sprint/Agile Team level).

Any thoughts?