MarTech Conference 2016 & Agile Marketing

March 23, 2016

by Tim Leonhardt

Sitting at the gate waiting for my flight home the (early!) morning after MarTech 2016, here are two initial reactions: One, I’ll never tire of the envious looks I get when I tell people I’m with a tech company in Bozeman, Montana. And two, if you believe in the Marcus Lemonis principles of people, process, and product – this conference was definitely about all three. 

There’s no doubt that product is represented at the MarTech conference. Exhibitors spilled into the hallway and filled every available inch of space – and they represented only an island in the MarTech sea that this year swelled to 3800+ logos on Scott Brinker’s exhaustive MarTech Landscape Supergraphic.

The sold-out conference of over 2000 MarTech professionals (people), certainly represented a high concentration of brain power and creativity. But what struck me most was this year’s focus on process – specifically Agile Marketing.
Today’s marketing world sees new technology born daily so it’s no surprise that a methodology to cope with all this change is getting traction. I cut my teeth in the tech world and I’ve seen the positive benefits that Scrum and other Agile approaches have had on the IT side of the fence (is there still a fence?). When change is the standard, a brittle waterfall process can’t keep up.

What I appreciated most at this conference was the recognition that Agile is itself agile. This isn’t religion. Your brand of Agile and mine don’t have to match. Start with one or two goals that make sense for you and your business and roll out additional solutions, projects and processes as your initial goals are met. Start by slicing your quarterly marketing plan into a series of two week sprints. These shorter bursts of activity give you a chance to respond and pivot when the environment changes – as it always does. Use these shorter planning cycles to listen to your customer – what do they respond to? What falls on deaf ears? Test, listen, iterate, improve.
At Elixiter, we practice Agile daily with standup staff meetings and a Kanban board on display in our main conference room displaying current projects. We’ve already seen the benefits of greater transparency and improved communication.
Don’t be intimidated by Agile, and don’t worry that with adoption of one or two Agile principles you’ll suddenly become a hacker with an aversion to light and an affinity for Mountain Dew. Simply start small, realize you’re not going to get it right the first time and be ready to course-correct along the way.
If you’d like to read more about Agile Marketing start with Scott Brinker’s Hacking Marketing or Roland Smart’s The Agile Marketer, both just published by Wiley.

Tim Leonhardt is the director of the specialist team for Elixiter.

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