Agile Marketing — Iterating on a Plan

Thoughts on Planning in an Agile Marketing environment

Planning in Agile Marketing is like taking a trip using Google Maps. We know the destination and when we’d like to arrive, but how we get there efficiently and safely is influenced greatly by the dynamics of driving with a digital guide. Instead of following a planned route on a static map, we now use the automation and intelligence of crowd-sourced information and historical metrics about traffic to allow software analysis to give us the best routes to our destinations. Using turn-by-turn instructions based on available data about the possible routes, we will arrive exactly where we need to be without needing to know the exact route before we begin the journey.

Agile Marketing gives us step-by-step conversion metrics AND team qualitative metrics based on available data to discern the next steps on our client’s digital journey.

In the digital marketing profession, our software tools provide us with the insight to make informed decisions based on relevant, timely data that greatly influence our changes to our desired destinations and outcomes. Without these tools, we will often assume too much about what should happen before we have the supporting data to verify our choices.

Agile Marketing believes that we will achieve goals that are in line with our objectives when we plan in small increments, execute and validate our results, and iterate changes to adjust our course — and then we do it all again, and again. This is how Google Maps uses relevant data to help us know how to avoid traffic and accidents, or even to avoid or take advantage of toll roads so that we get to where we’re going via the best available routes through constant updates and optimal suggestions.

Planning looks less like knowing exactly how, where, and when to execute on digital deliverables and more like knowing our desired destinations and timelines as they relate to our editorial calendars.

It’s not cheating to have a plan. The difference between traditional marketing planning (waterfall method) and Agile Marketing planning is that the plan is not static, but dynamic. In order to ensure we have consistency in our approach, I’ve applied the principles of OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) for creating clarity with alignment for my Agile Marketing teams. Without this kind of model, it is possible to iterate faster and deliver the wrong things with ever greater efficiency; something no one wants to succeed at doing!

The shared definition of planning, according to the crowd-sourced minds of Wikipedia, is as follows:

“In organizations, planning is a management process, concerned with defining goals for the company’s future direction and determining the missions and resources to achieve those targets. To meet the goals, managers may develop plans such as a business plan or a marketing plan.”

Academically, planning is a management process. In Agile Marketing, planning is a teamwork exercise to ensure deliverables and the path to publication are estimated, valued, and measured. Like Google Maps, input from multiple sources, verified against real-world metrics, gives marketing teams the just-enough, just-in-time planning that focuses work on short-term deliverables (in Sprints) against the longer-term deadlines of the editorial calendar.

Planning isn’t cheating; it’s just different than it used to be for marketers.

How has planning helped or hindered your Agile Marketing journey? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below so we can benefit from your point of view.

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Anthony Coppedge

I lead the vision for how business agility is infused in Digital Sales at IBM. I relish the chance to sabotage mediocrity.