Scrums, Chickens, Pigs: Should you be Using Agile in your Marketing?


By Sue BradyThe Chicken

I worked for a company for a time that used Agile methodology for its software, design and tech development. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. It had all sorts of funny rules, nomenclature and tasks, like daily stands, scrums, points, sprints, follow-ups to sprints and so on. The first issue was that I didn’t understand it because the Marketing folks were (unintentionally) kept in the dark regarding why things were done a certain way. And because I didn’t understand what was going on ‘over there,’ I was unhappy each time a piece of my project was delivered…but not the full project.

Marketing was frustrated. Tech was frustrated, and it finally occurred to the CTO that us marketing types really had no knowledge of the process. He had the great idea to have me accompany his new development VP to an Agile conference. And I finally got it. I still thought there were odd parts to it (like during each sprint review where each person gets praised for the work they’ve done during the sprint…), but at least I understood why I kept getting pieces of my projects instead of the whole project all at once. It would have been great to have known that in advance!

When done right, there are a number of benefits from using the Agile method:

  • All of the stakeholders are engaged from the start. This increases collaboration.
  • Involvement. Related to collaboration, the ‘client’ is very involved in the whole process.
  • Everyone understands the schedule. Delivery happens every week or two (per the schedule), and everyone knows that’s how it’s going to work.
  • ‘Out’ requirements (aka backlog) can be changed as each delivery is made, without it being considered scope creep. That’s because the Client is involved and can make trade-off decisions.
  • Priorities can be easily shifted.
  • Costs can be better controlled.
  • Tech teams seem to really like working under this method.

Once I heard that there was a new method known as Agile Marketing, I decided I had to learn more about it. I liked the sound of it, what with user stories being key to articulating needs…similar to user personas.

Testing is a key component to effective marketing. And because of that, it lends itself perfectly to Agile. Constant and frequent change based on testing is key to success for a Marketer. Tweet that! Acting fast and reacting to change is what Marketers do.

The philosophy behind Agile Marketing is not that you’re working faster. Rather, it’s about constant delivery and iteration to deliver better results. And that’s done by effective prioritization and reprioritization based on the outcomes of each sprint. Direction is clear, and approach can be adapted. It does sound like a great way to manage a lot of work.

PigOh, and that reference to the chicken and the pig above? There’s an old fable about a chicken and pig discussing what to name their new restaurant. The chicken suggests ‘Ham ‘n Eggs,’ but the pig doesn’t like that name. The pig has a pretty big sacrifice in that meal, but the chicken, less so. In other words, the pig is committed, while the chicken is just involved. Even though the fable is no longer included in the official Scrum process, both of these animals still may have roles assigned in the Agile environment. Pigs are committed and accountable to the project. Chickens are referred to as consultants and are kept informed on the project’s progress.

If you are an Agile Marketer, please share your experiences of how you’ve made it work. And, I would love to hear how you manage the annual budgeting process in an Agile environment to allow for change. I plan to write a follow-up post detailing the specifics of moving a specific project through the Agile process.


What’s all this About the Internet of Things?


By Sue Brady


You’ve heard it a lot, but have you thought about what it means?

First a definition. The Internet of Things refers not just to computers and mobile devices, but also to all of the other things that can be hooked up to the Internet, like your home security system, your thermostat, wearable devices, building automation, car insurance based on how much you drive. Even tracking your pet’s location in the event he runs away. It ultimately might include things like automated cities where street lighting is controlled through the Internet, or smart water systems (Sau Paulo already is claiming they’ve reduced leaks in their water systems by putting Internet connected sensors on their pumps).

Experts are predicting a massive market change brought on by the Internet of Things.

And what does that mean for marketers? It’s big and it’s coming.

There are so many ways the Internet of things could change the way we sell our products. On a basic level, the Internet of Things could take outdoor advertising to a whole new level by automating billboards. Signage could be changed through programming based on weather or traffic patterns of the moment or the outcome of a local sporting event. Ecommerce retailers could push alerts to customers of package deliveries by using a scanner on the front door. TV advertising could be changed by the moment based on events happening right then. Call centers could be connected to make efficient use of the pathways into their center for call arrivals and for the data that could be attached to those calls (think demographic data, data about devices currently in use by the caller) and create more intelligent algorithms to route those calls. DoNotCall could happen real-time for outbound calling programs. There are thousands of ways the Internet of Things can change marketing…all hopefully for the better! Give the customer what they want, when they want it.

There’s an opportunity here for strategic, creative thinkers to make a huge impact with some really great ideas. Time to use our brains and innovate.

It’s about to be a whole new world.

Do You Have a Chief Marketing Technologist?


By Sue BradyThe C Suite

In the last year or so, I’ve been hearing more about a new title that’s hitting the C-suite: Chief Marketing Technologist. I actually came across an old article from 2010 where Scott Brinker talked about this hybrid role. And that got me to thinking about why this role is being talked about so much now, and what type of job it entails. I was shocked to read that in 2013, 81% of large companies had this position! No wonder it’s being talked about. It’s a widespread role among big companies!

The bottom line is, marketing technology has gotten more sophisticated and increasingly critical over time. Someone needs to be dedicated to evaluating the field of products and choosing the right solution for Marketing, and then continuing to make recommendations for updates or changes as their business evolves.

Here’s just some of the marketing technologies that many companies consider to be a necessity:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems automate your sales lead management and track your sales by scheduling and sending out emails, prompting the sales team when it’s time to make a call, tracking customer revenue and more. They are generally focused on lead management from a sales perspective. This type of system generally sits with Sales, and is a example.
  • Marketing Automation Systems focus on lead management. They can be used to manage marketing campaigns, aid in landing page development, testing automation, tracking online visitors. To be fair, there is some overlap with CRM systems, because marketing automation systems also manage leads. And in fact, some consider Marketing Automation tools to be a segment of CRM. Automation systems have more sophisticated lead nurturing capabilities, from modeling to lead scoring and are focused on Marketing. Marketo and Silverpop fall into this space.
  • Content Management Systems (CMS) organize and automate your content. A CMS can drive which website visitors see what content. It can help your content producers organize and reuse existing content on your website, blogs, landing pages and ads. Examples are HubSpot and WordPress.

So what exactly does the Chief Marketing Technologist do? Scott Brinker outlined three main areas back in that article from 2010 and I’d guess they haven’t really changed:

  1. The CMT helps the CMO translate strategy into technology and technology into strategy. It’s sort of the high level version of the project manager who translates marketing needs into technical requirements.
  2. The CMT ties together the marketing, technology and data to find the commonalities between them. That means the CMT can start making use of all that ‘big data’ that everyone is talking about.
  3. The CMT helps technology permeate the marketing department and make the department run smoother, more efficiently, and more productively.

Sounds like a critical role every business should consider. Do you have a Chief Marketing Technologist?

Important: Don’t Ignore Video in Your Content Marketing


By Sue Brady

Film you own.

If you haven’t jumped on the video bandwagon, it’s time. YouTube claims to have over 1 billion unique users per month. That’s one seventh of the world’s population! According to a Nielson study last year of brand marketers, 64% said that video content will dominate their strategies as they move forward. I’ve read in a number of places that the future of content marketing is in video.

Like other forms of content, video content needs to be relevant, compelling and engaging. Know your audience and how to talk to them, and know your video goals. It’s not enough to post your ad to YouTube and hope it catches on. Instead, think bigger:

  • Produce short informational videos showing your product in action, or talking about various benefits of using it.
  • Use tutorials.
  • Show yourself as the expert in your industry so that when it comes time for a user to purchase what you’re selling, they’ll think of you first.
  • Film some of your customers making positive comments about your product.
  • Solicit content from your customers by having them upload their own videos.

Make sure your videos are interesting so that they’ll be watched. And don’t forget to include a call to action if appropriate.

Video has applications for both B2B and B2C brands. For one thing, there is a beneficial impact to SEO that shouldn’t be ignored. These 10 tips will help you optimize your video for local SEO. Video appears in Google search in a whopping 70% of the results (source: Searchmetrics).

Figure out the length that will work best for you. Shorter videos seem to be well received in the business world, though the length you decide on should be driven by your goals. Forbes Insight’s Report found that 47% of the C-Suite prefer videos to be 3-5 minutes in length. You do want your video to be long enough to convey your message, and if you think your target audience will watch a 10-minute how-to video, then don’t cut it too short.

Identify where you’ll be posting your video. YouTube is an obvious choice, but maybe a video would do well on your company’s website or blog. Or perhaps a video is appropriate on a pay per click or banner landing page. Consider your audience as you make these decisions. And don’t forget to make your video mobile friendly. 40% of YouTube viewing happens on a mobile device.

A long time ago, at the turn of this century, I worked for AOL and needed to show how easy and beneficial it was to sign up for a new program we were launching. I created a video to run on the AOL site that used animated graphics to demonstrate the ease with which our customers could enroll in, and use, the program. Over a million people did! Who knew I was on the cutting edge of a trend!?

In a recent post on humor, I mentioned the Kmart videos that went viral. Who doesn’t want that? But going viral doesn’t need to be your goal. Figure out what is, and get started. That’s the hardest hurdle to jump.