Do you remember when writing letters was a thing?
You get pen and paper and tell your friend who has moved to another state a story or about your life. Then you find an envelope, go to the store to buy a postage stamp, and leave it on your doorstep so that at some point you will remember to take it with you the next time you leave the house.
Whenever you thought about taking the letter with you, you put it in a mailbox and went about your life. It would take several days for your friend to receive the letter, then several days for them to reply and send you their reply. Sometimes it can even get lost in the mail or be returned to the sender.
When you received an answer, you hardly remembered what you originally wrote. And based on their answer, most of the information they received is out of date anyway. Then came email and instant messengers. Speed and efficiency have become so important that anything else is considered insufficient.
Traditional methods of project development are like writing letters. Agile marketing and Scrum are instant messengers.
What is agile marketing?
Agile marketing is a way to prioritize that needs to be published soon – while the iron is still hot before technology and market change – and focus the combined efforts of your marketing team on making it happen.
For example, let’s say you have a high quality project ahead of you. Maybe it’s a brand redesign that has to be launched by a certain date. People who will work on it may include:
- Content author
- Content strategist
- Web developer
- Artistic Director
- UX designer
- SEO specialist
- PPC specialist
That’s a lot of people. In order for the brand redesign to be successful and on schedule, everyone has to stick together and know what the others are doing. Conducting short, daily stand-up meetings helps the entire team to know the status of each component and to know who is working on what.
It’s also important to have a time frame to get everything done. In agile marketing, this is known as a sprint and can take anywhere from one to three weeks.
It is important that each project timeframe is consistent in length. So you start each sprint with a daily stand-up meeting and everyone stays up to date on the incremental progress of the project. Voilá.
Nothing is put on hold, delayed or missed. Things are done on time and on budget, and projects are started when the content is fresh and relevant.
What is scrum
Scrum (an abbreviation of the word scrummage) is the framework used by project managers (also known as scrum masters) to make agile marketing run like a well-oiled machine.
You start by making a list of everything that needs to be done during a sprint. The next step is to create a backlog that reflects a to-do list of what is in progress, what is being reviewed, and what has been completed.
During the daily meeting, the production team meets on the basis of this backlog to see if anything needs to be adjusted in order to achieve the project goals. At the end of the sprint everyone comes together to analyze the results.
The whole process enables marketing teams to provide effective services on a regular basis. And since the results are evaluated regularly, potential for improvement is identified as quickly as possible.
For the TL; DR crowd, here is a summary of the Scrum workflow:
- Start with a backlog of items to edit.
- Sprint Planning – Prioritize what to do first.
- Sprint Backlog – Make a list of all the tasks that need to be completed for the current sprint.
- Sprint – A period of between one and three weeks, with daily meetings where the team lets everyone know what they are working on and what has been completed.
- Sprint review and retrospective. Go through what worked and what can be improved for the next sprint.
With Scrum software you keep track of things. Give everyone on the team access so they can update tasks as soon as they’re complete.
Advantages of Scrum and agile marketing
The use of agile marketing in all of your projects offers many advantages. By implementing this method, you will see the following benefits:
Set realistic project schedules
While it may be tempting to always say “yes” to every customer inquiry, it doesn’t always make sense – especially when a project is complex. Scrum and agile marketing help you determine how much work can be done in a single week based on the capacity of your team.
It also helps push back customers who have a habit of getting things done instead of following the strategy that takes the bigger picture into account.
Realistic project schedules let clients know what to expect and ensure you can keep all of your promises. And most importantly, it makes your team happy as they are working at a reasonable pace that allows them to do quality work without becoming miserable from burnout.
Improve communication and collaboration
The best way to work collaboratively is to have the right hand always know what the left is doing and vice versa.
Instead of wondering what the designer or copywriter is working on or when a particular item will be ready, the whole team talks about it every morning. If something needs to be moved up, it can be done without stopping anything else that another customer may be expecting that day.
Optimizing project efficiency
Once your team is familiar with the process, the work cycle becomes more predictable. As a result, you have more consistent work and less downtime, usually related to people trying to figure out what’s next.
And since you discuss the status of every project that is in the queue every day, you avoid the risk of something falling through the cracks.
Complete customer priorities in good time
While you want to give your customers a reasonable schedule, you also want to make sure you prioritize and deliver on time. Because agile marketing involves daily meetings, anyone can take a look at what’s in queue for that day and work on high-priority items at the start of the week.
If everyone works piecemeal, the entire team won’t notice when someone runs into a problem. With traditional methods, one or two people work on it and keep working on their assigned tasks.
Scrum notifies everyone when there is a recurring problem and offers time to fix it. And since Scrum also involves analyzing data after a project is completed, it enables your team to see what can be done better next time.
5 steps to implement Scrum and agile marketing
Change can be difficult, and people can tend to resist. However, as with anything else, once everyone is familiar with the process, it becomes second nature. And it all starts with simple steps:
1. Create a scrum team.
No matter what industry you are in, Scrum starts with a self-organizing, cross-functional team. Everyone contributes to its structure, division of labor and problem solving.
The leader of the team is called the Scrum Master. Then there are all the creatives who will be working on the project. While not everyone is working directly together at all times, it’s important not to lose sight of how each individual’s efforts drive the team forward.
2. Plan your sprints.
Marketing sprints are short. Make sure they don’t last more than three weeks – a week or two is preferable. They are designed to make quick profits or limit lost time when an idea turns out to be of little use.
For example, a two-week digital marketing sprint might consist of PPC campaign planning, setup, testing, initial analysis, and a refinement round. It should only take two or three sprints to achieve a campaign’s ROI or uncover pitfalls that future campaigns need to consider.
Either way, there is something to celebrate that keeps progress fast and morale high.
3. Schedule daily stand ups.
Daily stand-ups are morning meetings between members of the agile marketing team. It sets the tone and context for the whole day.
The Scrum Master is responsible for keeping the meeting moving. It is strictly limited to just 15 minutes. In short, what you are discussing includes: What did you do yesterday? What are you going to do today? Are there any roadblocks in the way?
4. Run sprint reviews.
Regardless of the outcome, sprints should end with a sprint review. This is when the team presents what it has accomplished. It could be a functional demo, high fidelity wireframes, reports, ready-made content, or anything else that showcases your latest wins.
5. Do a sprint introspective.
The team integrates the knowledge gained in order to make the next sprint even more productive. While the sprint reviews discuss what the team built, the sprint introspective goes over how the team built it and whether this was the most effective way to go.
By talking about what worked and what didn’t, you can achieve real process improvement. This means that the team is constantly growing – both individually and as a whole.