Our Point of View

Organizing an Agile Marketing Team

How do you organize an Agile marketing team? Is the organization different than that of traditional marketing organizations? I think the answer is yes, it is different, both because of the use of Agile and also because modern marketing is very different from traditional marketing and demands a different organization.  Here are my thoughts:

Infrastructure and Analytics

One of the inspirations for this post is an article about The 9 Marketing Disciplines of Great SAAS Companies. Bill Macaitis, the former CMO of Zendesk and current CMO of Slack, argues that the first  and largest marketing team in every SaaS company is the Ops and Analytics team.  I agree and not only for SAAS companies.  The mission of this team is to build the infrastructure to support marketing operations (a CRM like SalesForce and a marketing automation tool like HubSpot or Marketo) and the analytics tools to support constant experimentation.  You cannot act in an agile fashion or iterate your way to success without a great marketing ops and analytics foundation. If you\’re going to build your Agile marketing function around actionable metrics rather than vanity metrics, this team is essential. Too often, this team is non-existent or an after-thought. Start here and hire great people for this team.

Content Marketing

The content marketing team is often the core of the Agile marketing team, and the production of content adapts very well to Scrum.  Make sure that your content is tied to the buyer’s journey, supporting the buyer at every stage of their buying decision.  The job of the content marketing team is not to sell, but to help people buy.  Remember the old adage that no one likes to be sold to, but everyone likes to buy. You will also need many different skill sets on this team: writers, editors, graphic designers and even technologists if you are generating interactive content (which you absolutely should be doing).

Demand Generation

Demand generation can take many different forms, and often this function is divided into several teams.  In the article referenced above, Bill Macaitis created at least two different teams, Paid and Website/Conversion. His International team also had some demand generation duties. Other companies might have an inside sales organization, a direct marketing team or a channel marketing team.  The actual structure of this function will vary from business to business. In my opinion, the key to success in demand generation is to set the right metrics and to create a culture of experimentation and accountability.  All of this lends itself to Agile Marketing.

One note about demand generation: I believe that organizations need to look at their demand generation activities closely in terms of both breadth and depth.  By breadth, I mean are you using as many different channels of demand generation as are appropriate for your business, and trying out new channels that aren’t as saturated and crowded as those used by your competitors.  If your competitors have saturated paid search, can you do more with unique videos or unique interactive content? Maybe no one in your industry uses direct mail (yes, I mean snail mail, not email). Have you tried it?

By depth, I mean ensuring that your demand generation takes people deeper down the sales funnel. Demand generation may even be the wrong term for some of you, as marketing encompasses both demand generation and demand satisfaction. Even if that’s not the case, marketing should be taking the buyer much further in the buying cycle, into stages that traditionally were handled by sales.  For an excellent article on this, see Why Marketing is Eating Sales.

Remarkable Customer Experiences

This team is also known as product marketing, but I prefer the emphasis on remarkable customer experiences. I mean Remarkable in the Seth Godin Purple Cow sense of being both incredible and worth remarking or talking about, and experiences rather than just products.  It is strategically important that the product marketing team think beyond the product that you produce to the full customer experience.

Community Building

Some organizations call this the evangelism team, and that’s fine.  The key is to build enthusiastic supporters of your product or service who will recommend it to others (Promotors in the Net Promotor Score terminology), help newcomers with the product, and provide great feedback to you about your product and your company.

Lifecycle Marketing

Marketing doesn’t stop with the sale.  For many products or services, your business model may pay you more for increased usage. This team is tasked with increasing that usage. You may also want to up-sell or cross-sell your installed base. This team is responsible for customer retention, customer happiness and increased sales to existing customers.

What I Left Out

I’m sure that several of you noticed that I left out several traditional marketing functions like brand strategy, marketing communications, PR and social media.  That wasn’t accidental.  I think brand strategy is like culture – everyone must be on the same page, and communicate your culture and your brand strategy through everything they do.  The basics of the brand promise can and should be determined at the highest levels of the marketing organization (and perhaps even above marketing), but it should be communicated by everyone.  I don’t see the need for separate brand specialists.

I also think marketing communications and PR have or should be replaced by content marketing.  I hate traditional press releases (spam aimed at journalists) and would prefer that any kind of communication to the press be handled by marketing executive management or perhaps by a corporate PR group.

Social media is a tool. A very useful tool, but a tool that should be used by everyone: content marketers, community builders, lifestyle marketers, etc.  If you’re large enough and you want to make sure someone “owns” the corporate social media accounts, put this function in infrastructure, and give it some metrics.  Otherwise, allow each team to use social media tools as they see fit.

So that’s my view.  What do you think?  How have you organized your marketing organization for Agile?