Stay Calm. Be Agile.

Lauren Bocci - June 04, 2015

When you’re in the midst of an outage and the lines of communication between ops and marketing are severed in any way, will your customers notice? In short, yes.

And it’s one thing to have product development teams following agile principles, but when it’s time to launch a new feature or product, if your marketing team is not walking in agile lockstep, is it worth it? In short, no.

Now obviously, I’m biased, but I truly believe that a company can’t run without a well-oiled agile marketing function. Making sure your marketing team can strategize, plan and deliver in an agile fashion can make all the difference when it comes to ensuring existing customers adopt (and stay) and new customers flock to your product.

From annual, quarterly and sprint planning to standups and retrospectives, instilling agile principles in a marketing team can make sure that visibility reigns across an entire organization. Below you’ll find three tips on getting the agile marketing party started…

Start at the beginning, but don’t recreate the wheel. 

There’s some darn good stuff in the original agile software development manifesto, and with a few slight tweaks, you can make it work for marketing. Here’s my version of the four main tenets. These four are the guiding principles of how we prioritize the work of the marketing team at VictorOps and the whole organization knows it.

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Have a plan (but be okay to re-plan).

Many times marketers will build their beautiful plans but forget the major ingredient of including the inputs of others (some marketers believe they know it all…not you though, you’re great).

The truth is that you must get your constituents involved, otherwise you run the risk of a painful replan (and conversation). Who are your constituents? Here are a few examples:

Internally - sales, product, support, management

Externally - customers, partners, media, and analysts

If you build your plan in such a way that you can replan (aka be agile enough to shift your priorities), it can actually be kind of fun. Allowing a team to shift their delivery to quickly accommodate something that will ultimately drive greater results can be extremely rewarding.


Use a framework.

Adopt a process that allows you to have increased fidelity as time goes by. If the agile movement has given us anything, it’s a framework for planning, visualizing and tackling work (and improving along the way). So use those frameworks for your strategic thinking, general collaboration and daily execution.

When you sit down with your team(s) to plan, make sure your ultimate goal is to emerge with a plan that translates into incremental work that you/your team can see annually (low fidelity) and quarterly, but tackle daily (high fidelity). In other words, your long term plan can be a bit fuzzy, but your near term should be crystal clear.

  • The meeting frameworks you should master (for planning): Annual Planning, Quarterly/Release Planning, Iteration Planning and Daily Stand-Ups

  • The meeting frameworks you should master (for improving): The Retrospective

The key to making this work is to commit. Commit small and try some things. Inspect and adapt (in true agile fashion) and then commit a bit more. I believe in you, and I wish you good luck. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions on how to get going in your organization.