3 Steps to Creating an Agile Marketing Department

Posted by Tessa Wegert on March 31, 2016

Modern marketing departments must be agile. Here’s how to get yours on track.

You’ve worked hard to create a company culture that’s both attractive to employees and designed to produce business results. But is your firm “agile?” The concept of agile planning is taking the business world by storm. It’s particularly well suited to marketing, where strategy is everything—and it’s proving to be more than a passing craze.

Let’s take a look.

A Day in the Life of an Agile Marketing Department

An agile marketing department is a place where meetings are succinct, employees value their colleagues, and sprint-like work cycles—rather than marathon-length projects—supercharge marketing outcomes. The workday begins with a 15- to 30-minute “daily scrum.” This stand-up meeting is designed to quickly prep employees for their daily work. The meeting is led by the project manager, and each person describes what they did the day before, what they hope to achieve today, and what—if any—issues they’re having executing their tasks.

As workers disperse, they do so with specific targets in mind. Teams are small, often comprised of just six people. They consult each other for advice, but most of their decisions are driven by data. Customer and campaign insights resulting from past projects, testing, and optimization provide definitive proof of what works and what doesn’t. It also puts the customers’ needs first.

The day goes on—but there’s a problem. An employee has encountered an obstacle that’s making it difficult for him to deliver on his unique objectives. Tomorrow, he’ll get the support he needs when he arrives again at the daily scrum, and he’ll find a solution before the issue can hinder his performance. The atmosphere of collaboration in the office makes him feel comfortable asking for help, while his project manager benefits from knowing exactly what needs to be resolved in order to keep the project running smoothly. This hiccup will also make it easier for her to foresee future problems, and head them off at the pass.

It all sounds simple enough, but making the shift from the slower pace of a traditional marketing department to agile can completely transform the way your business operates. Agile marketing departments are responsive, collaborative, and inspiring. Because employees all work quickly toward their objectives, they achieve them more often and can find more satisfaction in their success.

Sold on the concept of agile? Here are three steps you can take to apply it to your own company.

1. Define Your Goals

Before you can become more agile, you need to clearly define the goals your teams will be working toward. Take a cue from those quick daily meetings and keep timelines tight. Aim for projects to be completed within three to six months. This will ensure that workers maintain the momentum needed to consistently perform at a high level, and that the project itself doesn’t become obsolete.

2. Let Your Data Be Your Guide

Agile marketing is built on testing and data, and employees have to be prepared to respond swiftly to new information as it comes in. As you work toward each goal, let the insights you glean from site functionality, consumer engagement, user comments, and social media interactions guide you. Leverage new and existing data from your product development department as well, as it will help workers anticipate what’s coming up and react accordingly. Your marketing teams should always be ready and able to support projects from elsewhere in the company.

3. Keep Budgets Flexible

In the past, marketers planned their spending far in advance, investing in annual planning up front. An agile marketing department must be able to secure the same overall funding but generalize how they spend it, so they can adjust investments depending on the market, customer data, and new developments in technology and consumer behavior. Your teams may have good intentions, but if their spending has been set in stone, there’s little they can do to respond quickly to change.

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About the author

Tessa Wegert Tessa Wegert is a freelance writer covering business, marketing, technology, and more. Her work has appeared in such publications as Business Insider, Adweek, Mashable, and USA Today.

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