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Marketing and agile: best friends or worst enemies

The advantages of Agile for development teams are well-known, but case studies with business teams are rarer. Sometimes applying Agile to business teams can feel like forcing a round peg a square hole. Is Agile the best solution for every team?

Marcello and Nicole share their experiences applying Agile practices to a cross-functional marketing team at SilverStripe. For business teams, applying Agile can lead to higher productivity, better cross-team alignment and stronger resilience. Agile gives marketers an edge - helping them adapt to the pace of change in tech, focus on results not outputs and become more data-driven. However not all Agile techniques translate naturally outside development. Applying Agile to business teams requires experimentation and continuous improvement. It's a process that comes with growing pains especially as marketers tend to embrace perfection over iterating!

Learn what worked, what didn't, and mistakes to avoid.

Marketing and agile: best friends or worst enemies

  1. 1. Marketing & Agile: Best friends or worst enemies? Nicole Williams Head of Product, SilverStripe Marcello Commisso Agile Practice Coach, BNZ
  2. 2. Who are you?
  3. 3. What is Marketing?
  4. 4. What is modern Marketing?
  5. 5. Brand + Culture Science + Art Pull over Push Experimentation
  6. 6. Who is SilverStripe?
  7. 7. SilverStripe (the really short version) ● 78 people in Wellington, Auckland & London ● Founded by 3 Wellingtonians, privately owned ● Company values - aligned with Agile principles ○ Continuous improvement over perfection ○ Collaboration over control
  8. 8. SilverStripe (the really short version) ● Bespoke web projects + products ● SilverStripe Open Source CMS - 110,000+ websites ● Common Web Platform for NZ Government ● Amazon Cloud Platform-as-a-Service
  9. 9. Marketing at SilverStripe ● Branding / positioning ● Lead generation ● Product research ● Market validation ● Sales messaging
  10. 10. Learning to be a Product Owner
  11. 11. Nicole v1.0 Traditional marketing background Media booked at start of FY Perfectionist
  12. 12. “It will be the single hardest and most- -rewarding role you ever hold.- -There will be times you want to give up,- -but in the end you’ll love them and love- -being a product owner” - - Clarion Cloughan, Head of Engineering, Xero
  13. 13. Agile + marketing challenges ● Specialisation e.g. analytics ● Fixed deadlines e.g. events ● Recurring tasks ● Traditional silo thinking ● External dependencies M
  14. 14. Marketing evolution ● Marketing Manager - 1 person alone ● Storytellers - big cross functional team ● Neuron boosters + Rainmakers (two separate teams - community dev and marketing) ● Rainmakers (small design oriented team) ● CommuniKats (marketing focused team with PO)
  15. 15. What worked for us
  16. 16. 5 things that worked for us... 1. Give the team a mission Set clear short term goals (OKRs) 2. Become more data-driven 3. Cross-functional teams 4. Co-locate marketing team with product team Design for collaboration Processes for knowledge sharing 5. Never stop experimenting (improving) how you work M
  17. 17. 1. Give the team a mission and set clear goals
  18. 18. Objectives & Key Results ● Used by Google, Linkedin, Zynga ● Quarterly goals linked to 1 - 5 year plans ● Connects company/team/individual goals “[OKRs] are a tool for motivating and aligning people to work together. They increase transparency, accountability and empowerment." ~ Angus Davis, CEO, Swipely Google Ventures - video
  19. 19. ● Knowing the most important things to track ● Connects day-to-day with bigger picture ● Provides common goals across teams OKRs provide purpose
  20. 20. Don’t rely on opinions and gut feelings 2. Become data-driven
  21. 21. Data-driven means… ● Less over more ● High impact metrics ● What will change if we succeed?
  22. 22. 3. Cross functional teams
  23. 23. Cross functional teams, Pi-shaped people CodingEvents AnalyticsOnboardingCommunity Front end Back end CMS UI UX Blogs Docs Lessons Meetups Design Support
  24. 24. Cross functional teams, T-shaped people Content marketingSocial Digital marketing SEO / SEMAnalytics Marketing Automation Community Wide breadth of knowledge across overlapping disciplines Distribution Buying journey Content types Audience Brand strategy Deep knowledge, experience and ability in one (or a few) fields
  25. 25. Outward facing teams Product marketing specialist Campaign Manager (PO) Graphic Designer Sales Team UX Team Product Teams
  26. 26. Get people and teams to work together: 4. Designing for collaboration
  27. 27. Real collaboration ● Co-location with product and sales ● Shared Sprint Demos (Show & Tells) ● Involving other teams in backlog refinement ● Culture of knowledge sharing ● Setting common goals
  28. 28. Create a culture of learning 5. Keep experimenting
  29. 29. Monthly PMS meetings ● Product, sales and marketing ● Tactical experiments ● What question do we need to answer next?
  30. 30. Experiments board
  31. 31. But experiments slows us down... ● Putting value on learning ● OK to “fail fast” ● Experiments can be quick, small and cheap
  32. 32. Other Agile observations, tips and tricks
  33. 33. Scrum or Kanban?
  34. 34. Scrum ○ Introduce Agile thinking to a team (breaking down work, prioritising etc.) ○ Deadlines for delivery when team have problems completing work
  35. 35. Kanban ○ Mapping the current process is easy to start with ○ Team with strong specialisations and individual tasks ○ Experienced team where work don’t fit in Sprint cycles
  36. 36. Kamishibai board (for recurring tasks)
  37. 37. Some unsolved challenges
  38. 38. Unsolved challenges ● Integrating marketing in full product lifecycle ● Becoming a truly cross-functional team ● External dependencies
  39. 39. Does Agile work for Marketing?
  40. 40. Yes! Agile Marketing Manifesto ● Responding to change over following a plan ● Rapid iterations over Big-Bang campaigns ● Testing and data over opinions and assumptions ● Many small experiments over a few large bets ● Individuals and interactions over one size fits all ● Collaboration over silos and hierarchy
  41. 41. Can marketeers become awesome Product Owners?
  42. 42. Yes! ● Have strong customer focus ● Can “sell” the vision to inside and outside of the team ● Understand market and competition ● Are data-driven ● Collaborate and communicate
  43. 43. The future of marketing at SilverStripe ● Marketing reports into Product ● Greater transparency across teams ● Teams split over multiple countries ● More tightly coupled with product teams
  44. 44. Nicole v 2.0 Experiments over Perfection Team engagement over Control Agile thinking over One-off successes Head of Product @ SilverStripe
  45. 45. Questions? Marketing & Agile: Best friends or worst enemies? Nicole Williams Head of Product, SilverStripe Twitter: @envycollect Marcello Commisso Agile Practice Coach, BNZ Contact: