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How to lead a focused, productive marketing team (part 1)

Published 11 Sep 2018 by Alice Jones, CANDDi
Read this in about 3 minutes

Modern marketers have an ever-growing list of tools and techniques at their disposal. From the latest email tactics, to new social platforms, to ever more inventive ad formats, it can be hard to narrow down and focus when there are always new toys to try. That’s why the best marketers have a rock-solid strategy underpinning their work.

But even a really good top-level strategy defining what you want to achieve, and how to achieve it, can be useless without a decent structure to shape your team’s activities.

At CANDDi, we’ve taken the Agile ‘scrum’ system our developers use to organize their work, and applied it to the marketing team.

Marketers are often less process-driven than developers, but that doesn’t mean that a well-implemented process can’t help your company achieve more with your marketing.

In this three-part series, we won’t go into the background of scrums (you can read a good overview here), but we will explain how the system works for our marketing team, and why we find it so effective.

Understanding your goals

To start, we take the marketing team’s targets for the coming weeks and months and break them down into tasks. Then we break those down further into individual actions.

An example of a task might be: ‘Publish a page on the website describing new features’

The actions to achieve that might be:

  1. Get a product demo from the development team
  2. Write copy for the web page
  3. Create a design for the web page
  4. Get sign-off for copy and design from management
  5. Publish web page

Breaking tasks down into individual actions ensures that even complex projects feel manageable, and ensures that no-one takes on more than they can handle within a given timeframe. And time is the next important factor…

Sprinting to your goals

We break the CANDDi marketing team’s work into ‘sprints’ that each last two weeks. Each sprint consists of a set list of actions the team will complete in that time. It’s important to have a ‘scrum master’ in charge of the sprint process as a whole. That person must have an overview of the whole company’s priorities and how marketing’s activity fits into them.

Before our very first sprint, we held a meeting to decide our priorities for the next two weeks. During the meeting, we agreed what actions were needed to complete those tasks. Everyone was asked to rate each action’s difficulty on a scale of one to five, helping us work out how many tasks we can achieve in two weeks.

It’s important to divide your tasks into small, manageable chunks as much as possible. No-one likes to get lost in a single task for days while other people are pushing their smaller tasks forward to completion much faster. Being able to shift tasks into your ‘done’ pile can help you stay motivated to get everything finished.

Every morning, we hold a five-minute ‘standup’ meeting. This is where everyone on the team gets to share their progress and – most importantly – anything holding up their progress on meeting all the goals we’ve set for the current sprint.

Talking and learning

Clear, open communication is essential in this process. When we discuss problems, we don’t point fingers and waste time blaming people. Instead, we proactively work as a team to rectify the issues so we can reach our collective goals. It is the scrum master’s responsibility to ensure there’s a culture of mutual support and openness within the team.

On the last day of every sprint, we hold a meeting in which we review the sprint that’s just finishing, and decide what actions will be completed during the next. This is done using the same process as that meeting before the first sprint, so make sure you keep your cards to hand.

Some sprints won’t go smoothly. In your first few sprints, you’ll probably plan to do far too much, or you won’t all quite gel as a team. This is perfectly fine – it’s all part of the learning process. Just make sure you reflect on it and refine your working practices next time to keep getting more efficient and more productive.

In the next part of this guide, we’ll explain more about how our meetings work, and how we plan exactly what work we’ll do.

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