Getting the CMO Onboard with Agile Marketing Practices

In my last post, I shared 5 Reasons Why Marketing Organizations Must be Driving Digital and in this post, I'm following up on agile marketing.

Agile Marketing
Many of the marketing departments I've worked with are in fact practicing some form of ad hoc agile. In some cases, timelines are fixed, like when the marketing department is hosting an event or when there is a holiday driven promotion. Other times, they are given jobs to do based on organizational needs like updating sales materials, content marketing related work, or updating the website. Other times the work is more recurring like getting the monthly newsletters published or nurturing leads. Finally, there are strategic initiatives such as updating brading, developing go-to-market strategies for new products, or leading market research initiatives.

All of these activities can be managed in a scrum process. IMHO, many marketing teams would welcome this structure and often the main things missing is the endorsement from senior leadership (the CMO) and agile tools for managing their workflow.

Tools can be addressed if the CIO or CTO already practice agile in IT, and this is a good place for CIO and CMO to partner. The question is whether marketers will be open to using the same tools because many agile tools are oriented toward software development. Jira for example uses terms like "releases", "versions" and "components" that can be adopted to marketing needs but require marketers to be open minded. So for example, releases are essentially milestones and components can be marketing assets.

The CMO wants Agile to Drive Better Decisions

But the main barrier for marketing organizations adopting agile may be the CMO. Agile helps teams collaborate and have a voice on what's achievable in a fixed amount of time. In scrum, this is done each sprint and through the commitment meeting. But CMO who have specific quality requirements, timelines, and a fixed idea of what needs to be delivered will have a hard time accepting a marketing team's commitment to something below these expectations.

But I have yet to meet a CMO with such rigid expectations. Most executives want to understand tradeoffs and will make reasonable decisions on priorities when confronted with options. Agile marketing is a practice to get there. Just like in technology, marketing teams can present different solutions with different story point estimates to enable a discussion on options and drive decisions.

If your marketing is practicing agile or wants to, I'm very interested in hearing from you! Contact me @nyike or on linkedin.

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