How to handle changes in agile marketing

Learn the agile marketing areas where frequent change is acceptable and how to manage them efficiently.

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Agile marketing is all about change, but how do we balance agility and chaos? Let’s explore three components of the Agile Marketing Navigator framework the Guidepoint, Blueprint and Marketing Backlog — and where frequent change is acceptable and what areas to keep change to a minimum.

Changing the Guidepoint

The Guidepoint is the “big win” for an agile team that’s decided either quarterly or based on a major project or campaign. It’s what guides the team toward success and narrows their focus. 

The Guidepoint should remain pretty constant once agreed upon by the team and stakeholders. Since it’s done fairly frequently (at least once a quarter) and is so high-level, it shouldn’t have to change. The only reason that a Guidepoint would change is if there was a major shift in business priorities at a higher level than the team.

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For example, your team’s quarterly Guidepoint is: 

  • Create an omni-channel marketing campaign to improve our organic beauty sales by 20% this quarter.

You just learned that the organic beauty line is being acquired by another company and it’s no longer a priority for your business stakeholders. This type of business change would require a pivot. 

However, if it was simply because a stakeholder wants to do something else now, that would require a conversation because interrupting a team’s mojo will seriously impact productivity. 

General rule: The Guidepoint shouldn’t change.

Changing the Blueprint

The Blueprint is the quarterly roadmap of work the team uses to meet its Guidepoint. This is meant to be flexible rather than set in stone, and shifts and changes to the Blueprint during its shelf life (typically three months) are perfectly acceptable.

The team and its business stakeholders should review it together regularly (every week or two) to see if the work listed is still the highest priority. Because agile marketing is all about testing and learning, the team may have discovered what they thought was a brilliant idea isn’t panning out and they need to pivot — and that’s okay. It’s encouraged to pivot away from work that isn’t performing as expected and to try something new.

Team Blueprint

General rule: The Blueprint can change.

Changing the Marketing Backlog

The Marketing Backlog is the prioritized ordered list of work that the team plans to do in the future. This artifact is meant to be flexible and changing, so re-ordering the backlog, changing work, adding work and deleting work are encouraged. This is easy because the team hasn’t invested any time in doing this work yet.

However, where to proceed with caution is when work moves from the Marketing Backlog and into the five- or 10-day cycle. This is when the team is actively working on executing tactics and switching priorities at this point is discouraged.

While everything in agile marketing should be looked at pragmatically and not rigidly, changing work midstream can cause frustration from team members and the lack of ability to accomplish anything. So, proceed with caution on any changes during this time.

General rule: Changes are encouraged at any time in the Marketing Backlog. However, once work moves from the backlog into the cycle, changes have a big impact on productivity, so proceed with caution.

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

About the author

Stacey Ackerman
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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