It’s been exactly one year since I posted my first article to this blog. It’s taken me down many paths and I’ve met some really cool people as a result. For my anniversary post, I thought I’d call out some of my ‘most read’ posts for your enjoyment…just in case you missed them. Next week’s post will return to the Social Advertising 101 series (Parts 1 – Facebookand 2 – Twitter can be found here).
Maybe it should come as no surprise that not all of the popular posts were marketing related. Enjoy the reads!
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.
Oh, 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.
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.
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 salesforce.com 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:
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.
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.
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?
When does it make sense to use corporate IT resources to build a system/software/technology vs buying one off-the-shelf? Many companies struggle with this question. The answer is of course, it depends. There are many business tools that are readily available today: content management systems, CRM systems, accounting tools and the like. If you have an IT department that has coders, developers, and other technical functions, you may be able to create these tools yourself. But the question is, should you?
There are good reasons to build tools yourself, such as:
There is no off-the-shelf product that satisfies your needs
A client has asked for a product that they can own
It will be cheaper to build it
The off-the-shelf products won’t be able to keep pace with your level of growth
And equally important, there are bad reasons to build it yourself:
You have a big IT team and need to keep them busy
You don’t trust any of the off-the-shelf products
You need something a little different from the off-the-shelf choices
You can charge the client for a totally custom product
It will be cheaper to build it
There are pros and cons to both options. Buying a product typically means the implementation will be faster and the timelines to do so will be more predictable. Risk is lower because the product has been tested and is more standardized. There might even be a certain level of product support for you to take advantage of. But, you also have to stay one step ahead of product enhancements to know that whatever product you’ve chosen can grow with your changing needs. And you need to make sure you understand the product lifecycle so that when you consider costs, you know down the road what you’ll need in the budget for support/changes/enhancements.
Building gives you a certain amount of control but means that you have to manage costs carefully, avoid things like scope creep and continually set timing expectations. Plus you’ll also need to anticipate and handle new product feature releases that your business might need. Make sure you also set expectations around timing. Marketing folks are impatient, so if building is going to take three times as long as buying, you may get pushback. Be sure you have the budget to support the build.
Some companies like to use a hybrid approach where an off-the-shelf product is used, but modified to meet the business’ needs. This can work, but if a large amount of modifications are needed, you probably won’t be saving money or time in the long run.
I came across this rule-of-thumb advice in a variety of places: When you are looking to automate a business process that can be viewed as a commodity, you should buy. When you’re talking about a core competency/differentiator for your company, you should build. Tweet this.
Do your homework, run a cost/benefit analysis, and be realistic with the stake-holders with whichever option you choose.