Agility: How Agencies Can Benefit From Startups

Startups. They’ve changed how we go about our daily lives, given us droves of mobile apps and games, and forged a new way to do business. Focused on culture and innovation, startups have changed the social norms of how a business should operate and treat its employees. They are nimble and resourceful. They are continually learning to do things better and more efficiently. Most of all, they are agile.


This movement towards an agile working process has inspired countless other companies to join the startup revolution. Many advertising, digital, and marketing agencies have all followed suit and begun the shift towards lean and agile.


We’re big supporters of the startup mentality and how it has transformed workplaces. We’ve adopted it ourselves and hope to share some tips on turning your internal marketing department into a lean, mean, agile machine.


Tip 1: Read “The Lean Startup”


This is not optional. If you truly want your team to adopt and adapt to an agile frame of mind, the whole department needs to read this book, cover to cover. Your first thought after a chapter or two might be that the content doesn’t apply to you. It focuses primarily of software and tech. Your company can’t ship a minimum viable product because it’s marketing material going to the public.


While this is true, the main takeaway you want from “The Lean Startup” is the processes and state of mind. Performing as an agile department will involve buy-in and cohesive thinking from all members.


Tip 2: Start Implementing Lean Strategies


There will definitely be an adjustment period, but the sooner you begin implementing lean and agile tactics, the sooner you’ll be functioning on all cylinders.


Setup small weekly scrums with a direct purpose. Too much time is wasted in large meetings with too many attendees and no clear direction. These scrums should involve people essential to that project.


Tip 3: While You’re At It, Get a Scrum Board


Scrum boards are useful in a variety of ways.


First they help organize and centralize your scrums. The team has a board to congregate around and focus on. They don’t have their heads buried in their own notebooks.


They also help visual goals. You can start out by identifying the end goal and placing it on the board. Now that goal is permanently in view every time you meet, which in turn helps your team focus on tasks that are driven to achieve that goal.


Overall they are a great way to provide transparency to the whole team. Everyone knows what the goal is. Everyone knows the tasks needed to achieve those goals and everyone know who is responsible for what.


Tip 4: Be Data Driven


Being data driven does not simply mean that you pull some stats from Google Analytics and throw it into a Powerpoint. The purpose of being data driven is to make strategic decisions based on what the data tells you. Dig into the data and keep asking yourself questions to further yourself down the rabbit hole. Eventually you’ll come out with a very clear answer.


Tip 5: Be Ready to Pivot


Chances are, not every campaign and marketing effort will be a hit. Use those “failures” as learning exercises. Ask what went wrong. Was it a problem with delivery? Was the audience targeted correctly?


Being able to abandon a campaign will be on of the hardest things to do. A lot of time and effort went into making that campaign possible. But is that reason enough to allow a sinking campaign to eat through the remainder of the budget? Cut your losses and figure out what went wrong.


Tip 6: Know Your Audience


The quickest way to fall flat on your face in marketing, is to ignore the audience. Your can create the most innovative, electrifying campaign, but if it doesn’t resonate with your audience, you’ve failed.


Create surveys, develop personas, and get your hands dirty by going out and interviewing your audience first hand. The more detailed and in-depth you can build out a persona, the more likely you are hit a home run.
Overall, the transformation to lean and agile will require your team to continually improve their process. It’ll be a challenge but the benefits will far outweigh any obstacles you’ve had to overcome.