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Embrace a value-based approach to agile marketing leadership



Embrace a value-based approach to agile marketing leadership

The following is a selection from the e-book “MarTech’s agile marketing for leaders.” Please click the button below to download the full e-book.

To lead an agile marketing organization, you must take a value-based approach. Rather than thinking about how your process will change, think about the values you need to live by and get your teams to live by, and then make day-to-day changes that support those values.

The agile leadership values below will help you understand your role in an agile marketing organization.

Collaborate with your teams to set metrics for success, but leave execution to the teams. Create a dynamic that encourages interactive and not insular problem-solving.

When you were a child, your mom probably picked out your clothes for school, made your lunch, packed your backpack, looked through everything you brought home from school and knew where you were at all times. Your parents controlled everything you did because you didn’t have the emotional maturity to do things on your own in


By the time you were in high school, while not yet a full-fledged adult, you probably had a lot more responsibility. Your parents could tell you what outcomes they wanted you to achieve such as “Maintain a 3.0 GPA” or “Get accepted into college”. But they (hopefully) didn’t look over your shoulder with every homework assignment or require getting their approval before you wrote an essay. They gave you clearly desired outcomes and trusted you to get the job done.

When I look at companies and how they operate, I find that a lot of leaders are helicopter parents. They want to know what the team is working on at all times, and instead of talking about desired results, they’re focused on tactics and approvals.

I was working with a traditionally-operated bank that was trying to learn agile marketing. However, the micro-management culture ran deep. Work was initiated by stakeholders that felt a lot more like they were going to McDonald’s and placing an order than working with smart, creative and talented people. “Hi, I’d like two travel articles with a social media post on the side. Make sure that it contains no ketchup or mayo and an extra big helping of approvals.”

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As a leader, you have the power to change this behavior. You can turn your staff into consultative marketers that can bring valuable ideas to the table. Start by helping your team to ask the right questions. Instead of blindly accepting every request, encourage them to have a dialogue like this:

Stakeholder: “I need you to send out an email blast to everyone on our mailing list telling them about our new banking app.”
Employee: “What are you trying to achieve?”
Stakeholder: “We need to build up our sales pipeline.”
Employee: “What does a successful pipeline look like to you?”
Stakeholder: “Getting 50 qualified new leads that we can follow-up on.”
Employee: “An email may be one avenue. However, our team has had some recent success with short videos. Can I talk to the team and we can come up with a really great plan on how to achieve 50 qualified new leads?”


When we can have these types of conversations with our stakeholders, we empower our teams to be part of the solution. When the team is part of the solution, a lot of great things happen. You get happier employees, more creative ideas and a team that does more than just take orders. Teams like this really work on the right things at the right time.

Metrics that matter

There are metrics you should ask your teams to provide and others that are not helpful in an agile environment.

When you’re leading a marketing department, it’s important to understand how the team is progressing on a campaign or project timeline; how a campaign is performing and how customers are responding to it; how good the team is at delivering customer-ready work; and how predictable a team is at delivering on its commitments. These metrics are all team-based and revolve around desired outcomes.

Whether you’re using agile marketing or not, the question of when something will be done will always be relevant, and the team should always be transparent about it. A campaign burnup chart is a good visualization for understanding how a team’s work is trending. This is especially important if you have a fixed date by which you must complete the entire campaign. Be careful, however, not to pressure a team into unrealistic timelines or you might end up with skewed metrics that make you happy in the short-term, but will let you down when it’s time for delivery.

Campaign performance should be transparent from the team, but doesn’t need to be a formal metric. Discussions around customer engagement and about whether the campaign is over – or under-performing should take place in real-time and as often as possible.

Customer value and delivery, not volume, need to be at the heart of what you are asking for. Real value happens when work gets to customers and the team can respond with agility. One way to understand whether this is happening from your agile marketing teams is to look at how much work a team takes in, versus how much gets fully completed. In agile marketing, the user stories a team works on are supposed to be about customer value rather than an individual’s task — so a team that gets 10 stories done is actually doing better than a team that got 15 started, but only completed four of them. Most agile software tools will show committed versus completed stories, so this is a great metric to request from your teams.


Some metrics to avoid are:

  • Individual contributor utilization — remember agile is all about teamwork to get something of value to customers
  • Story point comparisons from team to team (teams point differently and will begin gaming the system to look better)
  • How many tasks got completed.

These metrics focus on individual performance and output, the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve with agile marketing. As a leader, helping your employees learn to become equal partners in determining work, and giving them the space and support they need to learn and grow, are essential skills for agile marketing.

Embrace a value based approach to agile marketing leadership

Customer engagement, not rigid contracts

Feedback from diverse customers is essential for improvement, and there are always improvement opportunities.

Engagement can come both from internal stakeholders and actual customers, but the idea is that we’ve built enough flexibility into the way we work that feedback can be quickly incorporated into our workflow.

Large organizations are often only taking feedback from the highest-paid person in the room. While that opinion should be valued, it’s imperative that it’s not the only voice that’s heard.

Let’s say the team is reviewing a recent marketing campaign with you and their CMO, and you honestly think the campaign is not hitting the mark. It may be tempting to tell the team everything that’s wrong with it; however, you need to give them the freedom to hear other people’s perspectives. So instead of telling them what’s wrong, consider asking:

  • “Can you test a small piece of this in-market?”
  • “Can we get the sales team to weigh in?”
  • “How does customer service think this may resolve some recent complaints?”

A successful agile marketing team will get feedback from a lot of places, but you need to give them the autonomy to decide what to do with that feedback. Maybe it’s a small tweak? Maybe they scrap the campaign and start from scratch?

The “rigid contracts” piece is another consideration you must think about as a leader. If teams have had to commit to specific deliverables, they are probably running at 110 percent execution mode and don’t have time to stop, accept feedback and make changes.

It’s important that as a leader you offer flexibility in deliverables so teams have time and space to do the right work at the right time.


Embrace a value based approach to agile marketing leadership

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Working solutions, not excessive documentation

Find comfort in good enough, and create room for teams to focus on identifying and removing impediments. Offer support to devolving complex problems, and allow the team to iterate and deliver solutions.

Focusing on “good enough” can feel really scary — after all, we’ve been conditioned our whole lives to make sure things are done perfectly. So why does agile marketing say to focus on good enough?

Let me first say, I’ve seen the perfectionist mindset at work, which reminds me of my time as a program manager at a large commercial bank. The bank had a project to remove customers’ full account numbers from their statements to meet compliance requirements. I worked on this one project for nearly a year, and it had started many months before I arrived.

When I left this role, the company was still discussing the requirements of the project. There were hundreds of people and millions of dollars involved, yet nothing was getting done. As a customer of that bank, a year later I checked my statement and nothing had changed.

While this is an extreme example, the point is that waiting for perfection is expensive and customers don’t see any benefits from your internal process. All of that time making something just right on the inside is like a retail store with inventory sitting on the shelves — no one can buy your product!


So as leaders, it’s business-critical to embrace the “good enough” mindset. This isn’t to say you should just work as fast as you can to deliver garbage; instead, help your teams embrace that sweet spot where enough time is spent to get valuable work in the hands of customers.

Here are five ways to embrace the good enough mindset:

  1. Reduce the number of approvals needed.
  2. Coach your teams to think about a minimally viable campaign by asking, “What’s the earliestnpoint in time that we can release parts of this campaign?” It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing answer.
  3. Have your teams create “Definitions of Done.” What things are needed to make a story done, and how can this strike the right balance of quality versus speed? Help teams reduce unnecessary process overhead.
  4. Strive for work to happen within the teams whenever possible. Every time they have to wait for an expert, inventory sits on the shelf.
  5. Look for the simplest solution, not always the desired end state. You may be able to create a landing page that meets business goals quickly by compromising a few bells and whistles.

Flexibility, not concrete plans

Look for opportunities to take risks and test hypotheses safely. Continuously review so that you can re-prioritize and stop activities that are not yielding benefits in the required time frames.

This really speaks to the heart of agile marketing. Sure, there are some common practices to learn, but the flexibility to experiment and change gears based on customer feedback is critical, and yet so many marketing organizations miss this opportunity. The first thing you can do as a leader is give your teams permission to be wrong. If your teams feel like all of their marketing has to be spot on, you will lose innovation and probably some really great out-of-the-box ideas.

The next thing that’s needed from you as a leader is to consider the feedback process to be part of the work when teams estimate how long something will take to complete. So when a team is planning, they should be keeping in mind more than just getting the marketing tactic out the door.

They need time to gather results, analyze those results and decide what those results will mean for future work. This requires space and time. If a team is in 110 percent execution mode, which most are, you will simply get output.

I was recently talking to a government agency that has mastered this concept. When they see that a campaign isn’t performing well, the team has the ability to stop it altogether. This may seem like a small thing, but it takes a lot of trust and empowerment to allow the team to make the decision.


It also takes leadership that will respect the team’s decision to not deliver something as expected. However, when you take a step back at the end of the day, is it your marketers’ job to crank out stuff to meet a deadline, or is it to achieve business outcomes? If you can shift your organization’s mindset to the latter, then stopping campaigns that don’t achieve results will seem like a smart thing to do.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Why leading an agile marketing organization requires a vision for

Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”

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The Role of Enterprise Mobility Management in Modern Businesses



The Role of Enterprise Mobility Management in Modern Businesses

In today’s fast-paced business environment, Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) has emerged as a critical facilitator for enhancing operational efficiency and competitiveness. EMM solutions streamline workflows, ensuring that enterprises can adapt to the rapidly changing digital landscape. This blog discusses the indispensable role of EMM in modern businesses, focusing on how it revolutionizes workflows and positions businesses for success.

EMM solutions act as the backbone for securely managing mobile devices, applications, and content that facilitate remote work and on-the-go access to company resources. With a robust EMM platform, businesses can ensure data protection and compliance with regulatory requirements, even in highly dynamic environments. This not only minimizes the risk of data breaches but also reinforces the company’s reputation for reliability and security.

Seamless Integration Across Devices

In today’s digital era, seamless integration across devices is not just a luxury; it’s a necessity for maintaining operational fluency within any organization. Our EMM solutions are designed to ensure that employees have secure and efficient access to the necessary resources, irrespective of the device being used. This cross-platform compatibility significantly enhances productivity by allowing for a unified user experience that supports both the agility and dynamism required in modern business operations. Leveraging cutting-edge technology, our solutions provide a cohesive ecosystem where data flows securely and effortlessly across mobile phones, tablets, and laptops, ensuring that your workforce remains connected and productive, regardless of their physical location. The adoption of our EMM solutions speaks volumes about an organization’s commitment to fostering a technologically forward and secure working environment, echoing its dedication to innovation and excellence.

Enhanced Productivity

EMM facilitates the seamless integration of mobile devices into the corporate environment, enabling employees to access corporate resources from anywhere. This flexibility significantly enhances productivity by allowing tasks to be completed outside of traditional office settings.

Unified Endpoint Management

The incorporation of Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) within EMM solutions ensures that both mobile and fixed devices can be managed from a single console, simplifying IT operations and enhancing security.


Advanced Security Protocols

Where cyber threats loom larger than ever, our EMM solutions incorporate cutting-edge security protocols designed to shield your organization’s data from unauthorized access and breaches. By consistently updating and refining our security measures, we ensure your assets are protected by the most advanced defenses available. This commitment to security not only safeguards your information but also reinforces your company’s reputation as a secure and trustworthy enterprise.

Data Protection

EMM solutions implement robust security measures to protect sensitive corporate data across all mobile devices. This includes encryption, secure VPN connections, and the ability to remotely wipe data from lost or stolen devices, thereby mitigating potential data breaches.

Compliance Management

By enforcing security policies and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards, EMM helps businesses avoid costly fines and reputational damage associated with data breaches.

Driving Operational Efficiency

In the quest to drive operational efficiency, our solutions streamline processes, reduce redundancies, and automate routine tasks. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies, we empower businesses to optimize their workflows, resulting in significant time and cost savings. Our approach not only enhances operational agility but also positions your organization at the forefront of innovation, setting a new standard in your industry.

Automated Workflows

By automating repetitive tasks, EMM reduces manual efforts, increases accuracy, and speeds up business processes. This automation supports operational efficiency and allows employees to focus on more strategic tasks.

Real-time Communication and Collaboration

EMM enhances communication and collaboration among team members by providing tools that facilitate real-time interactions. This immediate exchange of information accelerates decision-making processes and improves project outcomes.


Testimonials from Industry Leaders

Leaders in various industries have witnessed tangible benefits from implementing EMM solutions, including increased productivity, improved security, and enhanced operational efficiency. Testimonials from these leaders underscore the transformative impact of EMM on their businesses, solidifying its vital role in modern operational strategies.

Our commitment to innovation and excellence propels us to continually refine our EMM solutions, ensuring they remain at the cutting edge of technology. This dedication not only solidifies our standing as industry leaders but also guarantees that our clients receive the most advanced and effective operational tools available, tailored specifically to meet their unique business challenges.

Looking Ahead

The evolution of EMM solutions continues at a rapid pace, with advancements in technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT) further enhancing their capabilities. These developments promise even greater efficiencies, security measures, and competitive advantages for businesses willing to invest in the future of mobility management.

Our proactive approach to integrating emerging technologies with EMM solutions positions our clients at the forefront of their industries. By leveraging our deep technical expertise and industry insights, we empower businesses to not only adapt to but also lead in an increasingly digital world, ensuring they remain competitive and resilient amidst rapid technological shifts.

In conclusion, the role of Enterprise Mobility Management in modern businesses cannot be overstated. Its ability to revolutionize workflows, enhance security, and drive operational efficiency positions it as a foundational element of digital transformation strategies. We invite businesses to explore the potential of EMM solutions and partner with us to achieve unprecedented levels of success and innovation in the digital era. Together, we can redefine the boundaries of what is possible in business operations and set new benchmarks for excellence in the industry.

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Lessons From Air Canada’s Chatbot Fail



Lessons From Air Canada’s Chatbot Fail

Air Canada tried to throw its chatbot under the AI bus.

It didn’t work.

A Canadian court recently ruled Air Canada must compensate a customer who bought a full-price ticket after receiving inaccurate information from the airline’s chatbot.

Air Canada had argued its chatbot made up the answer, so it shouldn’t be liable. As Pepper Brooks from the movie Dodgeball might say, “That’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for ’em.” 

But what does that chatbot mistake mean for you as your brands add these conversational tools to their websites? What does it mean for the future of search and the impact on you when consumers use tools like Google’s Gemini and OpenAI’s ChatGPT to research your brand?


AI disrupts Air Canada

AI seems like the only topic of conversation these days. Clients expect their agencies to use it as long as they accompany that use with a big discount on their services. “It’s so easy,” they say. “You must be so happy.”

Boards at startup companies pressure their management teams about it. “Where are we on an AI strategy,” they ask. “It’s so easy. Everybody is doing it.” Even Hollywood artists are hedging their bets by looking at the newest generative AI developments and saying, “Hmmm … Do we really want to invest more in humans?  

Let’s all take a breath. Humans are not going anywhere. Let me be super clear, “AI is NOT a strategy. It’s an innovation looking for a strategy.” Last week’s Air Canada decision may be the first real-world distinction of that.

The story starts with a man asking Air Canada’s chatbot if he could get a retroactive refund for a bereavement fare as long as he provided the proper paperwork. The chatbot encouraged him to book his flight to his grandmother’s funeral and then request a refund for the difference between the full-price and bereavement fair within 90 days. The passenger did what the chatbot suggested.


Air Canada refused to give a refund, citing its policy that explicitly states it will not provide refunds for travel after the flight is booked.

When the passenger sued, Air Canada’s refusal to pay got more interesting. It argued it should not be responsible because the chatbot was a “separate legal entity” and, therefore, Air Canada shouldn’t be responsible for its actions.

I remember a similar defense in childhood: “I’m not responsible. My friends made me do it.” To which my mom would respond, “Well, if they told you to jump off a bridge, would you?”

My favorite part of the case was when a member of the tribunal said what my mom would have said, “Air Canada does not explain why it believes …. why its webpage titled ‘bereavement travel’ was inherently more trustworthy than its chatbot.”

The BIG mistake in human thinking about AI

That is the interesting thing as you deal with this AI challenge of the moment. Companies mistake AI as a strategy to deploy rather than an innovation to a strategy that should be deployed. AI is not the answer for your content strategy. AI is simply a way to help an existing strategy be better.

Generative AI is only as good as the content — the data and the training — fed to it.  Generative AI is a fantastic recognizer of patterns and understanding of the probable next word choice. But it’s not doing any critical thinking. It cannot discern what is real and what is fiction.


Think for a moment about your website as a learning model, a brain of sorts. How well could it accurately answer questions about the current state of your company? Think about all the help documents, manuals, and educational and training content. If you put all of that — and only that — into an artificial brain, only then could you trust the answers.

Your chatbot likely would deliver some great results and some bad answers. Air Canada’s case involved a minuscule challenge. But imagine when it’s not a small mistake. And what about the impact of unintended content? Imagine if the AI tool picked up that stray folder in your customer help repository — the one with all the snarky answers and idiotic responses? Or what if it finds the archive that details everything wrong with your product or safety? AI might not know you don’t want it to use that content.

ChatGPT, Gemini, and others present brand challenges, too

Publicly available generative AI solutions may create the biggest challenges.

I tested the problematic potential. I asked ChatGPT to give me the pricing for two of the best-known CRM systems. (I’ll let you guess which two.) I asked it to compare the pricing and features of the two similar packages and tell me which one might be more appropriate.

First, it told me it couldn’t provide pricing for either of them but included the pricing page for each in a footnote. I pressed the citation and asked it to compare the two named packages. For one of them, it proceeded to give me a price 30% too high, failing to note it was now discounted. And it still couldn’t provide the price for the other, saying the company did not disclose pricing but again footnoted the pricing page where the cost is clearly shown.

In another test, I asked ChatGPT, “What’s so great about the digital asset management (DAM) solution from [name of tech company]?” I know this company doesn’t offer a DAM system, but ChatGPT didn’t.


It returned with an answer explaining this company’s DAM solution was a wonderful, single source of truth for digital assets and a great system. It didn’t tell me it paraphrased the answer from content on the company’s webpage that highlighted its ability to integrate into a third-party provider’s DAM system.

Now, these differences are small. I get it. I also should be clear that I got good answers for some of my harder questions in my brief testing. But that’s what’s so insidious. If users expected answers that were always a little wrong, they would check their veracity. But when the answers seem right and impressive, even though they are completely wrong or unintentionally accurate, users trust the whole system.

That’s the lesson from Air Canada and the subsequent challenges coming down the road.

AI is a tool, not a strategy

Remember, AI is not your content strategy. You still need to audit it. Just as you’ve done for over 20 years, you must ensure the entirety of your digital properties reflect the current values, integrity, accuracy, and trust you want to instill.

AI will not do this for you. It cannot know the value of those things unless you give it the value of those things. Think of AI as a way to innovate your human-centered content strategy. It can express your human story in different and possibly faster ways to all your stakeholders.

But only you can know if it’s your story. You have to create it, value it, and manage it, and then perhaps AI can help you tell it well. 

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Only 6% of global marketers apply customer insights to product and brand



Only 6% of global marketers apply customer insights to product and brand

While many brands talk about focusing on the customer, few do it. Less than a quarter (24%) of global brands are mapping customer behavior and sentiment, according to Braze’s 2024 Customer Engagement Review. What’s worse, only 6% apply customer insights to their product and brand approach.

“At the end of the day, a lot of companies operate based on their structure and not how the consumer interacts with them,” Mariam Asmar, VP of strategic consulting, told MarTech. “And while some companies have done a great job of reorienting that, with roles like the chief customer officer, there are many more that still don’t. Cross-channel doesn’t exist because there are still all these silos. But the customer doesn’t care about your silos. The customer doesn’t see silos. They see a brand.”

Half of all marketers report either depending on multiple, siloed point solutions to cobble together a multi-channel experience manually (33%); or primarily relying on single-channel solutions (17%).  Only 30% have access to a single customer engagement platform capable of creating personalized, seamless experiences across channels. This is a huge problem when it comes to cross-channel, personalization.

The persistence of silos

The persistence of data silos despite decades of explanation about the problems they cause, surprised Asmar the most.

Screenshot 2024 02 27 140015
Source: Braze 2024 Global Customer Engagement Review

“Why are we still talking about this?” she said to MarTech. “One of the themes I see in the report is we’re still getting caught up on some of the same stumbling blocks as before.”

She said silos are indicative of teams working on different goals and “the only way that gets unsolved is if a leader comes in and aligns people towards some of those goals.”

These silos also hinder the use of AI, something 99% of respondents said they were already doing. The top uses of AI by marketers are:

  • Generating creative ideas (48%).
  • Automating repetitive tasks (47%).
  • Optimizing strategies in real-time (47%).
  • Enhancing data analysis (47%).
  • Powering predictive analytics (45%).
  • Personalizing campaigns (44%). 

Despite the high usage numbers, less than half of marketers have any interest in exploring AI’s potential to enhance customer engagement. Asmar believes there are two main reasons for this. First is that many people like the systems they know and understand. The other reason is a lack of training on the part of companies.

Dig deeper: 5 ways CRMs are leveraging AI to automate marketing today

“I think about when I was in advertising and everybody switched to social media,” she told MarTech. “Companies acted like ‘Well, all the marketers will just figure out social media.’ You can’t do that because whenever you’re teaching somebody how to do something new there’s always a level of training them up, even though they’re apps that we use every day, as people using them as a business and how they apply, how we get impact from them.”

The good news is that brands are setting the stage for the data agility they need.

  • 50% export performance feedback to business intelligence platforms to generate advanced analytics.
  • 48% sync performance with insights generated by other platforms in the business.

Also worth noting: Marketers say these are the four main obstacles to creativity and strategy:  

  • Emphasis on KPIs inherently inhibits a focus on creativity (42%).
  • Too much time spent on business-as-usual execution and tasks (42%).
  • Lack of technology to execute creative ideas, (41%).
  • Hard to demonstrate ROI impact of creativity (40%).
Screenshot 2024 02 27 135952Screenshot 2024 02 27 135952


The 2024 Global Customer Engagement Review (registration required) is based on insights from 1,900 VP+ marketing decision-makers across 14 countries in three global regions: The Americas (Brazil, Mexico, and the US), APAC (Australia, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea), and EMEA (France, Germany, Spain, the UAE, and the UK).


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