One of the most often asked questions I get about implementing agile marketing is how is the practice implemented, which is why I’m so glad I had the opportunity to sit down with Scott Sweeney, Vice President of Marketing at Kubotek, and discuss his use of agile marketing at Kubotek.
John: Would you give me a little background on how you came to agile?
Scott: First exposed at the b2b forum in Boston in 2013 with Scott Brinker, I came back excited and started deploying it. My wife came with me to the event; she attended Scott’s agile marketing presentation. She works in environmental health. She was thinking of using agile processes for environmental health.
I started implementing some of the principles. There were just two other people in my company with marketing in their title. We practice a very simplified form of agile marketing in our company, we started with a board. It improves our planning processes, and really helps us view what’s in our queue, and to see what’s completed. We have an overall plan for the year, and break that plan down into some quarterly goals. Agile has helped us to focus on our daily routines with our projects. We are able to react to current feedback on current results.
John: How are you using agile in your marketing operations?
Scott: We have an agile marketing wall, the original white board was too small, I took the board off the wall, and everything is color coded. I sit down with my marketing manager, review projects from the previous week, look at the queue, and review what’s completed. That’s what good about viewing our own internal process. We have a month long sprint, a week is too short. Most of our projects are managed on a month to month basis anyway.
We call our Scums, or daily meetings “the huddle”, this is attended for 15 minutes, sometimes go up to 30 minutes. Our staff huddle meeting includes some of our support members.
Our sprint planning sessions don’t have a name, those meetings are about one hour, to one hour and half, planning out what’s happening next week, we have a sprint review session as well during that time.
Don’t do a full monthly review. We don’t do a sprint monthly review; we do a quarterly review, our quarterly review is broken up into 13 weeks.
We do a monthly review, to check up, a list of all of the things in the completed section, overarching review of the goals for the quarter. I produce a written update, that update goes into our executive planning and for into our monthly executive meetings.
John: Are you using personas?
Scott: Yes we do, we use them to a limited basis, and they tie into our marketing planning for our collateral pieces and goals for lead generation.
John: Are you using customer journey mapping?
Scott: Our process uses HubSpot we are now getting some excellent data into the system. Really important for the sales people, to categorize into the system, we can really see the various places where people are coming into the system, the various touch points. In using agile we are really pinpointing where the customers are coming into the process.
We can come out with some ideas. We could take various things out of HubSpot, the purchase could be a week to several years for us.
John: What are the benefits of using agile for marketing?
Scott: A couple of things that happened, one immediate impact, anyone in the company can walk in the company, and see what’s on the agile marketing board. That had an important impact [providing transparency], on what people are doing; they generated x number of leads last quarter, this many opportunities, an awareness of the discipline we had implemented. Rather than people might still think of marketing in the old ways, generating clever taglines, etc.
Next, I also have a bigger view of things that have been accomplished, we count the accomplishments monthly, and it’s a very easy way to see what we have accomplished. Agile marketing has also allowed us to capture improvements we want to make, in our agile board, in the pre queue, then bringing those ideas into the projects and working on these issues.
Using the board has been a very good way to manage agile, we have a tangible planning process, I’ve thought about using some of the software, that that can be very helpful when working with people off site. I think the board is nice, it’s like a Kanban board, you are really seeing something physical, it helps to manage expectations, someone has a great idea, we can prioritize something much more easily, we have one more project to work on and consider, people on the outside can realize that maybe this project isn’t as important as that project to me, it’s helpful in managing expectations.
John: Can agile marketing can be a way to cross the divide with non-marketers?
Scott: We are a smaller company, so we are involved in every aspect of marketing, from product marketing, to communications, to PR, to IT, and marketing operations. Sometimes you have people who have limited knowledge of really what marketing does, because of agile there’s a very strong appreciation in our company of what we do, especially at the executive level. Especially when you are really driving the revenues of the business, through content marketing, and creating systems, that are allowing people to search and find the solutions, we are providing our software for people who are manufacturing products in the supply chain, aerospace etc., for people in other areas of our company, software development, sales, there’s a better appreciation of what we are doing.
John: And are you making changes to your overall customer experience plan?
Scott: We are just starting to touch on that, not yet, just started our NPS survey, we need more core data as we learn more, I think some customer mapping would be very helpful. We’ll gain data from surveys.
John: Has agile been helpful in making changes to your marketing efforts given the changes in channels and devices?
Scott: Our best example of that, we are in process of creating our ecommerce part of our website, just learning what customers are willing to purchase online, with a credit card, enhance the site, to give the customers enough information to make those purchases, we have that process, creating it revising it, allows us to do it faster and more intelligently, has been very helpful.
John: There's a term called digital transformation, how do you think companies can use agile to transform their marketing operations, and improve their customer experience?
Scott: I think that there’s so much information and technology coming out right now, in conjunction with marketing automation, I think using an agile process to evaluate what technologies are going to attract the customers and prospects, are the best solutions to attract customers. It will allow a smaller company like ours, maybe to be more leading edge, even than some of our larger rivals, we can stay a competitive organization if we stay on top, working, evaluating, and determining if they don’t’ work, we’ll be able to leverage the best technologies.