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Talking to CMOs about Agile marketing

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Your marketing team likely understands how adopting an Agile methodology is a key step in transforming your marketing strategy; you’re CMO might not be completely on board, though. Convincing your CMO (or any other C-level making decisions) is a matter of knowing how to pitch Agile without overstating its reach or underselling its value. Here are a few tips on how to talk to your CMOs about Agile marketing:

Avoid the process details, eschew the slang

As marketers, we may embrace Agile as a process, but that may not be the best way to frame it to a C-level. Processes are filled with details, steps, rules, procedures, and technicalities that your CMO will likely not care about. Don’t let the pay grade fool you; C-levels often prefer to view things in simple and straightforward terms as they tend to be pragmatic and results-focused. Don’t sell Agile as a process; sell it as a philosophy supported by tactics, and sell it for its benefits: faster time to market, improved cross-communication, better use of customer data, and a smoother flow of information.

Also, unless your CMO is familiar with Agile marketing, you should avoid using Agile terms such as “Sprint”, “Kanban”, or “Scrum”. This can be confusing and you may end up having to explain terminology and explaining too many details about the process (something you wanted to avoid in the first place).

Find pain points, focus on desired outcomes

If you’re trying to adopt Agile, then your marketing team obviously has issues you wish to address and solve. This is exactly the point where your concerns as a marketing director/strategist intersect with their concerns as executives. For example, if your company has made some layoffs from your marketing team in the last few months, then you’re likely sharing a common pain point where you need to find ways to do more with less human capital. You can pitch Agile as a way to improve productivity, collaboration, and the ability to finish projects despite having fewer team members.

Another common pain point might be how your marketing department takes and processes requests from your CMO. They might have a habit of simply tapping on your shoulder and asking for something to get done while your and your team are already swamped with other tasks, so this will either delay other tasks or delay the new request, which might be met with some resistance from your team. In this case, you could pitch Agile as a way to streamline requests, prioritize tasks, and speed up communication, making it easier for all stakeholders to get projects completed.

Ask for an opportunity to demonstrate

C-levels love a good demo. If they can see something in action, it will improve your chances of getting them on board. Once you’ve been able to start the conversation on agile and found a common pain point, you can ask for the opportunity to try and solve this issue with an Agile-based experiment. For example, if you’re team is limited, and management is unable to hire specialists at the moment, you can pitch Agile as a workaround to these limitations that allows people to step outside their traditional roles and work with a wealth of shared information to get things done. You’ll get to show how feedback turnaround times and project completion times are reduced when unnecessary processes are eliminated, and communication is streamlined between all team members.

If you get the opportunity to demonstrate what Agile can do for your marketing team, make sure to keep your CMO in the loop of how things are improving and how satisfied your team members are with the new methodology. With positive results in hand, it shouldn’t be too difficult to finish convincing them that agile simply works.

What to learn more about Agile marketing? CXGS can help you start that conversation.

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