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Let’s start with this: agile marketing doesn’t mean conventional marketing with an agile flair — or worse, getting rid of plans and managers, and letting chaos reign until a combination of urgency, anxiety, dread, and sheer self-preservation forces people to agonizingly churn out deliverables and get stuff done (and then go on sick leave or quit).

Rather, agile marketing is a long-term strategy that depends exclusively — not somewhat, partially or even primarily, but entirely — on whether teams are empowered and engaged, or disempowered and disengaged. Simply put: there is nowhere for agile marketing team members to hide, or to be hidden. Either they play a meaningful role in ushering deliverables across the finish line, or they obstruct progress and performance.

To achieve the former and avoid the latter, here are five tips for creating elite agile marketing teams:

  1.   KEEP IT SMALL: Typically, agile marketing teams shouldn’t have more than a dozen people on the roster (some experts say that 10 should be the limit). While larger teams usually have more overall knowledge capital, they also tend to take longer to arrive at consensus and pivoting can be a challenge.
  2.   CHOOSE TEAM MEMBERS WISELY: Staff agile marketing teams with cross-functioning professionals who bring relevant skills. For example, a team tasked with building an email nurture campaign might include a demand generation specialist, marketing automation specialist, database specialist, content writer, graphic designer, and project manager. And speaking of team composition: seniority doesn’t matter. Role does.
  3.   GET BUY-IN: If agile marketing teams lack support, then it’s just a matter of time before things (and people) break down. To avoid this cruel fate, obtain buy-in from all relevant stakeholders such as C-level and surrounding teams (e.g. sales, customer support, R&D, etc.). Make sure that everyone understands why and how agile marketing is different from conventional marketing.
  4.   DRIVE VISIBILITY & COLLABORATION: There can’t be any passengers on the agile marketing boat. Everyone needs to row in the same direction, understand where they are and where they’re going in each sprint, and meaningfully contribute to team success. To that end use a task management solution like Clarizen Go, which is designed from the ground-up to support agile (and hybrid-agile) marketing teams.
  5.   MEET DAILY: Daily stand-up meetings are a must for agile marketing teams to clarify priorities, plan future work, and deal with any issues that if left unchecked can turn into complex, frustrating problems. If teams aren’t co-located, then use technology tools to get everyone together even if they’re on the other side of the city, country or planet.

A Final Word

Before wrapping up, there’s another element of agile team building that is essential, but also problematic for many enterprises: dealing with failure. Unlike conventional marketing, one of the defining characteristics of agile marketing teams is that in pursuit of delivering customer value, they need to innovate and experiment — which invariably means that they will encounter failure. When (not if) this happens, teams must not panic or implode. Instead, they need to learn from the experience and exploit the knowledge as the move ahead; sometimes with fresh insights on what to do, and sometimes with fresh insights on what not to do. Either way, they are smarter, stronger, and more likely to succeed.

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