A marketer's job is never an easy one and today, it a noisy world filled with so many competing messages, all vying for our potential customer's attention, it's even harder. With so many channels to support, each requiring a different set of skills, building a strategic marketing plan and figuring out how to best use the resources available is a challenge. It's time to rethink how we execute marketing plans. Andrea Fryrear sees this as an excellent opportunity for market leaders to make operation and management improvements in their businesses and consider shifting to agile marketing.
In this episode, you will learn how to increase your team's competitiveness and efficiency amidst a quickly changing environment. The Five Echelon Group's Founder/CMO Eric Dickmann has a conversation with speaker, consultant, "Master Marketing Agility" author, and Agile Sherpas co-founder- Andrea Fryrear about agility marketing and collaboration tools you can use to improve efficiency.
Andrea Fryrear is the co-founder of AgileSherpas and author of two marketing books- "Death of a Marketer- Modern Marketing's Troubled Past and A New Approach to Change the Future" and "Mastering Market Agility-Transform your Marketing Teams and Evolve your Organization." She is a consultant who obtained her degrees from Austin College and Oxford University. Andrea is an international speaker and multi-certified trainer who has spent many years improving organizational performance. As a veteran in content and agile marketing, Andrea Fryrear makes it her goal to use AgileSherpas' proprietary Marketing Agility Ascension program to help innovative marketing leaders become agile powerhouses.
What is Agile Marketing?
Agile marketing refers to a method centered on the idea of iterative development or requirements and solutions solved through the collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams. The ultimate value of agile marketing is that it enables teams to deliver value faster with better quality, predictability, and more remarkable aptitude to respond to change. The world around is agile, and customers expect products and services to be fast and responsive. With the transition of the market, we have to consider engaging in agile marketing because the traditional marketing methods are slow and lack the needed responsiveness in this fast-paced world. Fryrear points out that regardless of whether you support an agile marketing team or not, marketing executives should understand that agile marketing can help get the job done faster with fewer resources and less risk.
Wrike defines agile marketing as a process by which a team can manage a project by breaking it up into several stages and involving constant collaboration with stakeholders and continuous improvement and iteration at every step. This methodology begins with clients describing how the end product will be used and its problem. Once the work starts, teams will go through planning, executing, and evaluating, which might change the final deliverable to fit the customer's needs better. Continuous collaboration is the key, both among team members and project stakeholders, to make fully-informed decisions.
Andrea tells us that businesses that shifted from the old marketing methods to agile marketing have seen significant results in their transition. Agile marketing enables you to learn what types of campaign messaging are appealing for specific channels. Having this kind of marketing strategy increases the business' return on investment significantly, improves employee engagement scores, and regulates cash flow. Compared to old school marketing, this era allows marketers to gather relevant information from your clients and get feedback from your research quickly. Fryrear tells us that even if we are going to allocate a big investment budget on hard copy materials, businesses can still validate their ideas through digital testing and learn cycles.
According to Wrike, Businesses Find Agile Marketing Essential Because of These Three Reasons:
- Customer's needs and tastes constantly change
- Company priorities are perennially shifting
- Marketing technologies are always new
Making Your Team Agile
A huge problem nowadays with marketers is that they focus too much on features rather than the problems the process is solving and the benefits it offers. Andrea Fryrear tells us that we should hold a strategic mindset and a firm set of principles when discussing with our clients, because if you skip straight to the practices, routines, and engage in other digital marketing tools without changing the way you think about planning and the way you think about team structures, then you won't get as big of an impact as you should have. Instead of focusing on their own department's agendas, marketing groups should collaborate as one team to achieve one common goal.
Andrea says that we can reach our clients in a more agile, iterative way by gathering essential knowledge to create what we believe in representing our persona. This process takes a lot of trial and error before developing an effective and viable solution, but over time, the persona expands to convey new information that we've collected. We can use the agile tool that we have adapted to create campaigns and messages based on consumer needs and wants rather than the concepts we think are cool for business.
People can apply these little changes in their processes to start becoming agile:
- Creating a backlog of everything- Write a prioritized list and identify the most important things you should be working on. This will become the source of truth for what the team should be working on next
- Have a Kanban Board- Start simple and list your focus on what is needed at the moment. Your workflow will be awesome if you are organized.
- Daily Standup Style Meeting- Allow some time every day to communicate with your team. These quick collaborative conversations can help your team feel motivated and more determined to accomplish work efficiently
How Agile Marketing Help Businesses Focus on What They Need To
Fryrear informs us that we often overlook the problems that agile marketing brings because of the many benefits the cycle brings to us in efficiency and collaboration. We should not ignore the issues that arise and find ways to respond to these issues and build on long-term solutions to prevent the worst-case scenarios. You're rewarded for success, not for failure. As marketers, we all know that you can't be successful in marketing unless you're trying many things and seeing what's works best. Andrea Fryrear reminds us that there is no perfect plan or process. Entrepreneurs don't always hit a home runs in their ventures or investments but we tend to learn more from what doesn't work and that helps us to get closer to the thing that works well.
Appreciating failure and the process it would take before you reach your business goals is a long journey. There are potential risks when you start trying new approaches, and questions like these will come across your mind during the process:
- When is my product/service ready to be released to the market?
- Should we try releasing this?
- How could we release our product/service earlier?
Marketing teams of face the problem that when their first product launch doesn't go well as planned, they would race to the next concept and not come back to the failed idea and think of ways to improve their initial concept's quality. The COVID pandemic had affected the workflow of numerous companies worldwide, and despite these holdbacks, businesses must still try to ensure that their business processes are running smoothly and cooperatively. According to Fryrear, the team's efficiency and collaboration mostly rely on the team members' maturity. Agile marketing teams sometimes had difficulty adjusting to the remote setup because their team was so used to their usual collaborative routine. They were able to adapt and started having daily virtual standup meetings. The benefit of being agile is that whether you choose to hold meetings virtually or in-person, you keep collaboration working.
I think that's what a lot of marketers are missing is this – It’s okay for this to not to be perfect. It's okay for it not to be a home run every time, because the more we learn what doesn't work, the closer we get to the thing that works really well.”
Andrea advices businesses to work harder and collaborate despite the ongoing pandemic. The pandemic has affected the purchasing behavior and preferences of customers. Since there are many new expectations that businesses now have to meet, we must be more responsive to our customer's needs and demands. The improvements and developments we are to make must be planned and applied urgently so that the competition won't leave us behind.
The Collaboration Tools You can Use to Increase Efficiency
Due to the pandemic and the workforce's transition to remote working, many businesses have utilized platforms like Skype, Zoom, Slack, and MIRO. These programs ensure that employers and employees can keep in touch with each other, continue business processes, and resolve customer issues despite the time, distance, and circumstance.
More than two hundred million people around the globe have been using Skype since its release in 2003. Skype is a free telecommunications application specializing in providing video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets, mobile devices, consoles, and smartwatches over the Internet. Users may transmit text, video, audio, and images with their instant messaging services anytime, anywhere.
Zoom, which was founded in 2011, now has two million active users monthly. This application provides video telephony and secured online chat services through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform and is used by many schools and businesses for teleconferencing, telecommuting, distance education, and social relations.
Started operations in 2013, Slack has around ten million daily active users and more than seven hundred fifty companies using their software. Slack allows businesses to use their IRC-style features, topic-organized chat rooms, private groups, and direct messaging to smoothly and efficiently run the business processes. This application enables teamwork to become more manageable, more organized, and productive.
Andrea Fryrear and her team use MIRO to help them note and organize the important things they need to achieve and accomplish within a specific period. This online collaborative whiteboard platform allows Andrea's team and its nine million global clients to collaborate in real-time, plan creative projects and business ideas using infinite canvas, and integrate smart concepts and ideas with other softwares such as Google Suite, Dropbox and Slack.
Dealing with the Roadblocks that Hinder Company Success
One of the many significant roadblocks that hinder companies from maximizing their full potential and reaching their goals is process overkill. Agile marketing processes are supposed to provide structure. A team holding fundamental agile values should be cross-functional and offer collective expertise to provide the best solution to a problem. Businesses need processes that give them the appropriately framed problem and allow teams space and freedom to solve that problem. Fryrear points out that a lot of organizations have gone too far by killing the team agility because they make too many of their employees focus on only one area of the problem; without allowing the others to work on what they do best by allowing them to resolve the other pieces of the problem. Agile marketing processes die under these kinds of weighty processes.
What Typical Tools Can Businesses Use in the Agile Environment?
There is a wide array of new and traditional tools designed for agile teams. Andrea's recommendation is to always go with native agile tools specially designed for agile teams because some of these more traditional project management tools that attempt to retrofit themselves to be agile often fall short. There is a tendency for us to be overwhelmed with the amount of technology and ease of access around us- this is why we should start using somewhere super simple. Get comfortable with the active visualization, and keep your concepts flowing and updated. You need a rollup view to see if the project is holistically on track and that multiple teams that work on different pieces of a project are in sync. Later on, during the process, you'll need a more sophisticated tool, and you can shop for the right feature sets instead of just settling for something that is just labeled in their product description. You have to be a smart buyer when choosing the appropriate tools for your business. You have to appreciate the small steps you are taking in the company and appreciate little things that need to happen because not everything happens big all at once.
BRP- Big Room Planning
In her book, Andrea Fryrear introduces us to BRP or big room planning. Before the pandemic times, the departments could be easily held by the departments to discuss the statistics, plans, and resolutions for the past, present, and upcoming months. BRP gathers all departments in the company in one big room to support each other from their departmental to holistic goals. Fryrear tells us that it is powerful to see what everyone is doing and how their actions impact other teams. Especially for marketing, where we have many specialized roles and resources, we often don't understand all the hard work our colleagues are doing to beat the given deadlines. If we see the massive backlog of work at big room planning, we realize all the other inputs they have to process and all the different requests that they are dealing with.
Being part of big room planning helps you realize the functions of each sector of the organization and each employee's values to the overall welfare of the business. These realizations allow us to plan accordingly instead of just feeling frustrated continuously because things are late. BRP allows us to look at the bigger and better picture. It allows us to brainstorm and reflect on these questions:
- How was the work we did last quarter?
- What did we learn from it?
- How is our next quarter's plan going to be informed by those activities?
Live Stream Replay
- The ultimate value of agile marketing development is that it enables teams to deliver value faster with better quality, predictability, and more remarkable aptitude to respond to change.
- We can use the agile tool that we have adapted to create campaigns and messages based on consumer needs and wants rather than the concepts we think are cool for business.
- There is a tendency for us to be overwhelmed with the amount of technology and ease of access around us- this is why we should start using something simple.
- Being part of big room planning helps you realize the functions of each sector of the organization and each employee's values to the overall welfare of the business.
Episode and Guest Links
- To learn more about Virtual CMO, strategic marketing consulting services, or anything else discussed here, please contact The Five Echelon Group.
- The Five Echelon Group's Resources to Restart Your Business
- If you have feedback, questions, or are interested in being a guest on the show, please contact us here.
Andrea Fryrear - Book author, keynote speaker, and co-founder of AgileSherpas can be found online on LinkedIn.
- Transform your organization to an agile powerhouse successfully and develop your marketing team with AgileSherpas.
- Grab Andrea Fryrear's latest book – "Mastering Market Agility-Transform your Marketing Teams and Evolve your Organization" on Amazon to learn how to build marketing operations that can freely pivot while remaining committed to your priorities.
- Embrace change and keep in touch with Andrea on her personal website.
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