I recently had the chance to interview Caroline McClelland, who has practiced Agile Marketing since 2009, both with her previous company HoundDog Technology Ltd and now in her current position as Digital Account Manager at Waracle, a mobile application developer based out of the U.K. Here are my questions and her answers.
When did you get started with Agile Marketing, and what were your motivations at the time?
Making that initial move to agile marketing was an easy decision back in 2009. As a Marketing Manager for a start-up technology company (HoundDog Technology Ltd) I could already see the success of the Development team. When one of our Software Developer friends taught our Marketing team the ins and outs of an agile process – we were onto a winner. Never before, had I been part of such a focused team. Marketing adopted the scrum method of agile marketing. Team work was confined to two-week sprints allowing us to experiment with new marketing techniques. All creative ideas were added to a future backlog, completed projects were reviewed and we continually improved performance. It was like night and day. Suddenly, instead of just acting out our own roles, we were a team in every sense – we were all committed to the same goals, we had a sense of purpose, great communication – those daily stand-ups added more value than you could imagine, we became more creative and our Marketing Director was overwhelmed at the speed at which we regularly completed tasks.
What have been the top three benefits to you and your organization in adopting Agile Marketing? Has anything surprised you?
The biggest benefit of all was removing silos and having a team that communicated and collaborated effectively. As a Marketing Manager, there’s nothing more satisfying than feeling that camaraderie, that sense of purpose, the compounding successes and of course seeing happier, more engaged employees. With Agile, you really get to know your team, you allow them to present their success stories to one another, and you celebrate successes together – sometimes with cake! Such a strong and open communication style with daily stand-ups, fortnightly retrospectives and planning meetings removes all silos.
Such strong communication means that nothing falls between the cracks. As a Manager, you have a clear view of workloads, priorities and issues allowing you to communicate better with other stakeholders in the business e.g. Sales.
Second benefit would be how agile marketing helps you to empower your marketing team members. We were lucky we had exceptional leadership who used agile marketing as a way to empower the team to make their own decisions.
With defined sprint goals and clear tasks everyone had the power to manage their existing tasks without micromanagement. What’s more, this way of working encourages new ideas. I’m a great believer in leading by example. By practicing the agile methodology, there’s no better way to introduce new team members to the department.
What surprised me most? I’ll never forget a new employee who quickly came to grips with agile, who understood the department goals, and then started putting her own ideas into our marketing team backlog. She didn’t have to wait for the right moment to make suggestions, she felt empowered to contribute her ideas. For a recent Marketing Graduate, agile is the type of system that encourages fast growth and personal development and is such an efficient way for a Marketing Manager to capture those fresh ideas. In management it can often feel a struggle to provide that right balance of support and still allow people to own their own tasks. Agile solves that problem and empowers you and your team.
Third benefit is how agile marketing lets you prioritize your team’s tasks much more efficiently. Agile marketing ensures that everyone understands the scope of their work, confining tasks to a specific time frame. During planning meetings, real-time prioritisation ensures that the most important work gets done first. Everyone is focused on the right objectives. And, if you’ve ever been in a situation when a sudden change in the business disrupts every existing plan, then an agile framework lets you methodically re-prioritize the next sprint tasks and cope with change.
What advice would you give teams starting out with Agile Marketing?
I recommend that any marketing professional who wants to get ahead in management should adopt agile marketing and bring about that necessary strong team spirit to ensure that marketing remains fun! In today’s ever-changing business environment, embracing agile ensures you have a fast and flexible marketing team. If you practice agile well you’ll not only build a strong team spirit, but a strong brand, more traffic, more customers, more leads, more sales and in the end, increased revenue and profit. If you’re thinking about adopting Agile Marketing, I’d say it’s important that you get the right tool for your team. You need an online collaboration tool which is user-friendly and allows all team members to participate – regardless of where they are, or which device they are using – something like Allthings is perfect.
Caroline is a Marketing professional with 13 years marketing experience in management roles across global organizations in Information Technology & Services (mobile app, web, software development), Financial Services and FMCG / Retail (food & beverage). She was a finalist in 2014 Outstanding Contribution to a Business Award for global marketing acquisition & retention activity which contributed to 50% year on year growth of LogicNow. She completed a 1st Class Degree in Business Economics with Marketing, APMP qualification, Digital Marketing certification, Google AdWords and Analytics certified and is a Member of Chartered Institute of Marketing (MCIM).
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“She didn’t have to wait for the right moment to make suggestions, she felt empowered to contribute her ideas.” – This was great to read. Fostering that inclination to take action through the marketing team backlog without being “managed” to do it is just what we’re all seeking with self-organizing teams and team members who “feel it”, too.
Removing silos, empowering team members and prioritizing team’s tasks is music to my ears. Thanks for sharing the interview Jim.