Fr-AGILE Marketing: “Major Award” Trend or Sexy Novelty?

Company Culture, Innovation Posted Nov 7, 2012 by Kevin Kosh


The IMS structure of focused, tight sessions was extremely successful at achieving a high level of energy and engagement.  That model mirrored the dynamic of one of its day 1 topics –Agile Marketing.

The panel was moderated by Jim Ewel, Principal, Agile Marketing and featured a crack team that included Scott Brinker President & CTO of Ion Interactive; Frank Days, Vice President of Marketing, Correlsense; Steven Gilbert, Director of Digital Marketing, EMC; and Bradley Smith, Director of Marketing, PR Newswire.


For many in the audience, the topic may as well have been in Italian. The conversation was based on the premise that many marketing groups are stuck to old school waterfall marketing thinking.

To carry the puns just a little bit further, Agile’s dynamic, collaborative nature – and more importantly, lack of meetings – represented the soft glow and lure of “electric” processes gleaming in the window…


In all seriousness, the pitch for Agile makes perfect sense.  It draws its inspiration from Agile Software Development disciplines that force narrow time and task focus.  Teams follow a sprint process that narrows down the aspects of a larger marketing plan that are most important and can be done within a defined time. The team holds daily “scrums” (15 minute stand up meetings) to assess what was done, what worked and what’s next.

Overall, the three main tenets of Agile are:

  • Goal definition from specific end-customer needs and ongoing feedback
  • Adapting to, and playing off of change, instead of following plans
  • Following continuous testing and data analysis, not “gut feel” decision making

In the end, all panelists felt that the approach resulted in more productive, adaptive and targeted campaigns…that were also more fun.

One of the most concrete examples given was EMC.  EMC has 13 sprint teams that were defined as part of a marketing automation project.   The greatest benefit they have seen has been in more effective management visibility.  The process has empowered teams with the ability to better promote themselves and their work.  With a requirement to “demo” their success every two weeks has driven focus on producing a demoable product every 2 weeks.

Of course, as with any new process or approach, change is not easy, nor is it warranted in every case.   The panelists injected some cautious reality into the conversation.  While Agile seems loose and less onerous, one panelist described is as “actually quite a rigid process that requires discipline.”  All agreed that it is hard to bend to individual wants.   The advice, keep teams close, cherry pick projects and don’t be a hero and try to do everything.  No one is 100% agile.