We started working with an Agile Consulting and Coaching company a few years ago to help them develop performance content for their blog. All of the concepts we wrote about focused on agile implementation and training courses to help software companies and project managers be more efficient. This work introduced us to the concepts, tools and terminology used with agile (scrum, sprints, JIRA, product managers, etc.) and often had us joking about how nobody at our agency would want the title of "scrum master." But, it didn't inspire a magical transformation...at first.
Then, I heard Jeff White from Kula Partners give a great presentation on their experience moving to agile at HubSpot’s partner day. Suddenly, the stars aligned. I felt like I did during the 2nd semester of calculus in college, where something finally clicked and I was able to pull out a solid c-minus. In listening to Jeff, and hoping for a better grade on the agile subject than calculus, all of the content we'd been developing for our Agile Client Partner suddenly applied to our team. The agile concepts we’d been learning and writing about could also be applied to how we work as a inbound and content marketing agency. Aha!
The Journey to Agile
Transitioning to “Being Agile,” isn’t only for software developers and IT project managers. We always strive to be more efficient and flexible and deliver valuable results. Our mantra is to "build valuable relationships." So, why not apply the same principals to our team that the software world was embracing?
In early 2015 we began down the path to become an “agile inbound marketing company.” We practiced daily stand-ups and weekly sprint planning for about a year to get the hang of it. We visited with Square2Marketing and saw how they apply agile to their agency. We read books. We created powerpoint presentations. We memorized the agile manifesto.
Then, we decided to “go all in,” eventually investing in an agile consultant and moving to JIRA as our project management tool. We learned a lot during the process that I’m happy to share, but for this post, I’ll stick to the basic questions being asked by clients and other interested agencies.
Why Agile is Good for Marketing
An agile approach to inbound marketing (or any marketing plan) eliminates the old school method of forcing deliverables that lock marketers and their clients into premature decisions. Typically, these decisions are outlined in the very beginning of the relationship, when we knew each other the least, which just doesn't make sense.
Agile lets us all move away from set-it-and-forget-it assumptions in contracts that quickly become outdated. It also lets our team of inbound experts use their honed skill set and proactively advise clients on the strategic deliverables that will get the best results every month.
As markets, business goals and results change, so do the strategies and tactics we can recommend. This empowers our team and our clients to work more “in the now” and adapt to the current state of business. Learn more about the benefits of agile inbound marketing.
How Agile Marketing Works
Here is an overview of the process we follow as an agile marketing agency:
Monthly: Agile was designed to make teams work more efficiently, better and stronger than before. This begins with a monthly “inspect and adapt” cycle, where we look at actual results and make decisions based on data, rather than assumptions. As part of our monthly reviews, we collaborate on the best opportunities to get the most results from every client’s inbound investment.
Weekly: We plan our workflow in one week “sprints” to keep all deliverables on track. All of our tasks remain in our backlog planning, until they are ready to be pulled into the current sprint to complete as done for the week. That’s why our clients’ participation and feedback is so crucial to working in agile. Together, we can get more done, in less time, and with stronger results.
Daily: Each morning our team meets for a quick check-in, called a scrum meeting, to plan the most efficient day possible as a team. During the meeting, each team member answers these three questions:
- What have you accomplished since our last meeting?
- What will you accomplish today?
- Is there anything standing in your way of achieving those goals?
This daily check-in is perfect for our agency because we are spread across three teams in Colorado, Florida and North Carolina. Within 15 minutes, our entire organization is on the same page and knows what to expect for themselves and from their team members each day. It quickly prevents deliverables from falling behind schedule, helps us prioritize deadlines, and ensures that everyone is aligned with reaching each client’s marketing goals on a daily basis.
Our agile approach is also aligned with a transparent deliverables catalog and value points system. So, clients are never locked into a set of deliverables outlined in a stuffy, non-flexible contract. Instead, programs are customized monthly depending on each client’s needs, goals and results, and shared collaboratively with clients.
And yes, we did have to give in to appointing the title of "scrum master" to someone on our team, but it's definitely been worth it.
Interested in learning more about agile inbound marketing?