B2B marketing is in a constant state of flux. Marketers are being asked to do more than they’ve ever tackled before. Just thinking about the channels, technologies, and tactics brings the chaos into full focus.
The biggest change is with our buyers—we have to clearly understand them in order to rise above the noise and build meaningful relationships. While some marketers think that pumping out a higher volume of content is the answer, I’d argue that making the buyer the core of every marketing project is more important.
It’s time to obliterate the conflict between quantity and quality that marketers have been struggling with for years.
There is an answer that addresses both sides while improving content marketing effectiveness—something that 70% of B2B marketers say they’re lacking.
It’s Time for Agile Marketing
The concept of agile marketing is not new; I wrote a post about what I called Scrum Marketing back in 2005. Scrum is the process behind agile development.
Agile marketing is an execution approach that enables a marketing team to collaboratively prioritize high-value tasks that can be completed in short amounts of time, called sprints. A sprint can last anywhere from one week to one month. There are many posts defining the process—here’s a great one from Andrea Fryear.
For now, we’ll focus on how the components of agile marketing can help solve the quantity vs. quality conflict.
User Stories Provide Relevance and Context
Once the priorities for a sprint have been determined, each task must be based on an applicable user story. User stories were invented for agile software development to ensure that programmers created features that would serve end users in accomplishing goals.
A user story is a simple statement:
As a [persona/role], I want to [do something], so that I can [goal/outcome].
The user story should answer the quality side of the equation by ensuring that the content produced focuses on providing value to a specific persona or role.
Here are a couple of examples to help you apply the concept of user stories:
- As a director of IT, I want to quickly understand how your solution will help me reduce service-ticket handle time so that I can help my team better serve our end users.
- As a human resources executive, I want to keep pace with leadership development trends so I can ensure that our programs are effective at retaining talent.
Your personas should directly inform your user stories and context for each task in the sprint.
Another component of user stories is defining the conversation and confirmations. The conversation details the key points that should be included, and the confirmations are the points for evaluation. Evaluation entails measuring how well the content met the goal.
User stories set the rules of engagement for the content. They are short and simple, and they provide clarity for the team about what content will be developed for what audience—and the goal it’s meant to achieve.
Agile marketing is an efficient process, meaning that a higher volume of content can be produced without sacrificing quality.
Because the sprint applies available marketing team resources to the tasks included, the content is produced within the set timeframe. Agile marketing is an efficient process, meaning that a higher volume of content can be produced without sacrificing quality.
This approach also reduces fire drills and chaos by allocating any new requests to the backlog for the next sprint or making the team choose what to remove from the sprint if the priority for the new request is high.
Marketing teams have a limited set of resources. Sprints should align with the resources available, requiring choices to be made about what can be accomplished.
Apply Agile Marketing to the Buying Process
One of the concepts gaining steam in B2B marketing is customer journey mapping. Developing a customer journey map is the process of determining all the steps a prospect will take during each stage of the buying process, including what questions need answers, what information needs to be gathered, and which channels and content formats will be used.
Once you’ve mapped the buying journey for each persona, sprints can be developed around each stage of the buying process to address each step with a user story and content assets.
As you create the user stories, you’ll also be developing the entire storyline across the continuum of the buying process—from end to end, for each persona.
The resulting content can be applied to a number of marketing initiatives, from lead generation and nurturing to sales enablement. In fact, the user stories that accompany each content asset can be a great way to help salespeople understand the intent of the content so they can use it to support sales conversations with prospects.
Collaboration Brings Organizational Visibility and Buy-In
Agile marketing is also based on collaborative and continuous communication, with daily standup meetings and a task board that shows what’s in progress, what’s complete, and what has yet to be started.
Daily standup meetings are short meetings where each person on the team presents three inputs:
- What I completed yesterday
- What I’m doing today
- What’s standing in my way
This standup keeps all team members in the loop and invites collaboration about how to solve any obstacles that could derail the sprint—whether internal or external.
With this level of visibility, success is not reliant on one person, but the team as a whole. So, for example, if one person is out sick, the blog post can still be published.
At the end of each sprint is a review meeting that brings in cross-functional executives to provide input and feedback to the team.
Review meetings bring organizational visibility and team recognition, and promote alignment with sales and business objectives based on feedback about what was accomplished in the last sprint. The confirmations for each user story and task enable the marketing team to compare the actual outcomes against the original goals.
By exposing marketing programs to the broader organization, the marketing team’s achievements can be seen, understood, and applauded. This is because the achievements come much faster with monthly evaluations that show progressive improvements. This also allows for “failing fast” and making adjustments quickly as buyers’ needs change or new channels are introduced.
Agility is no longer a nice-to-have capability. With the pace of change in today’s markets, it’s a must-have in order for marketing to bring competitive advantage.