Why collaboration and teamwork are essential in agile marketing
In order to build a high-performing team, you must have a shared purpose for working together, as this section from "MarTech's agile marketing for teams" e-book shows
The following is a selection from the e-book “MarTech’s agile marketing for teams.” Please click the button below to download the full e-book.
Great agile marketers have one thing in common—a true team mentality; they’re not just a bunch of people forced to work together. Learn how to move from being an individual contributor to a true team player.
Are we really a team?
To truly embrace the level of collaboration and teamwork required for success in agile marketing, you must be able to visualize what team success looks like. In marketing, we’ve spent a long time working on individual tasks and being rated on job performance by how we perform solo.
An agile team is really different, and it should feel a lot more like a sports team than a typical work group. Think about a high school football team during its homecoming game. All of the players are aligned on one big outcome—winning!
While everyone on the team has a primary position, they win or lose as a team. If Evan only cares about getting a touchdown and being the big star, he may not pass the ball to his teammates, and ultimately the team will lose because they aren’t working together.
An agile marketing team needs to understand what game they’re playing and how they can win. Then, everyone needs to work together to make that happen.
The best agile teams I’ve worked with don’t always have fancy tools—what they do have is a clear understanding of what they’re trying to accomplish, and everyone offers to pitch in and help.
Creating a shared purpose
In order to build a high-performing team, you must have a shared purpose for working together. Often I see teams put together for the sake of checking a box, but everyone is working on individual tasks with no real understanding of the underlying goal and purpose of the team.
If this is the case, take some time with your team to create a team charter. The team vision creation needs to be done with the entire team, so find a time where you can get active participation from everyone.
A few examples of good team visions are:
“To reach physicians in the hospitals that we service with meaningful marketing messages”
“To provide engaging social media content to prospective customers that will make them fall in love with our brand”
The team vision should be something that’s not one and done, but truly creates the reason for your team’s existence. Why are you a team? What do you strive to accomplish together? Keep the team’s vision somewhere visible to all team members and talk about it often, especially if you notice team members veering in another direction.
Your team should also decide how they will best work together and formulate a working agreement. Some things to cover are:
- How should we communicate with each other?
- What would make this team awesome?
- What things poison a team that we need to avoid?
Getting these answers is best done when all voices in the room can be heard. If you’re working remotely, use a collaborative sticky note or whiteboard tool to allow participants to submit ideas.
I’ve facilitated several of these sessions with clients, and the best teams are empowered to do this without management intervention. The teams get really excited about defining their superpower!
My favorite team that did this was a team of non-marketers that was formed to clean up some technical problems. It’s work that most people would find really boring and not having a really big wow factor, but this team was passionate about its mission! “We’re the Blasters,” they told me as they enthusiastically whiteboarded out their purpose for existing.
Aligning on Big Hairy Audacious Goals
Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) are a great way to align your team on what success looks like. While BHAGs don’t say everything that your team will be working on, it is helpful in aligning the team on what success looks like.
Aligning on BHAGs can be done quarterly or monthly, depending on the length of time your campaigns or projects are taking to complete.
To align on BHAGs, a marketing owner, product owner or project owner would facilitate a working session with the team. This person should be able to clearly articulate one or two key things that the team will work on over the few months. This is what will align the team on what game they’re playing and how they can win.
A few good BHAG examples I’ve seen are:
“Create a memorable trade show experience for our physician clients”
“Promote our new online class offering”
“Launch a partnership program”
The challenge that plagues agile marketing teams is we too often go from very high level goals, such as BHAGs or KPIs, to individual tasks. This makes it really challenging for you, a member of an agile marketing team, to connect the dots.
When we can come up with BHAGs, we can then go from the KPI measurement to something more actionable that everyone can get their heads around.
Breaking work into stories
While BHAGs are great at getting the team aligned around a big goal, the team then needs to break down the work into smaller, bite-sized chunks. By writing customer stories (also called user stories), the team can break the work down from something really big to the actual work they’ll do on the team.
Let’s take the example of promoting the online class offering, one of the sample BHAGs listed above. Your team needs to work together to understand what will go into this promotion. Hold a collaborative brainstorming session to think about all of the marketing involved such as e-mails, social posts, blog articles, webinars, etc.
Now, writing the work into stories gets us away from “mine vs. yours” and aligns the team on “ours”. We must all accomplish this story together to make it a success. To get stories written, do it collaboratively with your team.
A few examples stories are:
“As a student, I want to receive an email notifying me when the class will be offered.”
“As a student, I want to attend a free webinar about the class so that I can see if the content resonates with me.”
“As a student, I want to watch a YouTube video about agile marketing so that I understand how to get started.”
When we move away from assigning tasks to marketers and instead look at the value to the customer, we can then see who needs to get involved. A story typically takes more than one team member to accomplish, so this tactic alone builds in the natural tendency to collaborate.
Becoming a great team member
Once you are structurally set up to work on a team, what can you do to be a great team member? Here are a few tips and tricks to get you going.
First, don’t be afraid to share your knowledge with other team members. Let’s say you are the team’s graphic designer — you can quickly become the bottleneck to getting stories completed. Help other team members learn some basic skills or set them up with tools like Canva where they can get user friendly design templates. You could also create some branded template designs so that your team members become less dependent on you.
Next, be willing to learn some skills that are out of your comfort zone. If you’re the team’s content marketer, pair with your designer to be able to add some basic images to your work.
A great team member is always thinking more about the success of their team than their own work, so start saying things like “our work” versus “my work”. That small change in vernacular can really help build the sense of team.
As a team member, you’re all part of creating a shared culture. If you notice your team is stressed out, suggest everyone tell a joke before the meeting begins. Find ways to make work fun, such as having a virtual happy hour or playing an online game to get to know each other better.
High-performing agile marketing teams have one thing in common—they work together to solve a common problem. By understanding what you’re striving for as a team, having clear goals, and writing work as collaborative stories, you’ll be on your way to succeeding with agile marketing.