From the Digital Mindshare Community Career Forum: Agile Marketing
Q: Curious if anyone has experience with Agile Marketing… is it worth the $1500 or better to work towards an overall Agile certificate, or a PMI certificate? I’ve been doing project management all my career, but I’ve never gone for a certificate and now considering getting one for advancement.
A: What a great question. I’m especially excited about the topic of Agile Marketing, as I’ve been working to implement agile strategies and tactics within agencies and brands for some time now.
I’ve taken the initial classes for the PMI PMP certification [but never took the exam] and have my CSM [Certified Scrum Master] certification. Keep in mind that I’ve been working in technology and marketing for many years; I didn’t feel like I needed the certifications to further my career, but I did want more knowledge to apply to my work in a practical, real-world manner. That was my reason for pursuing the training.
The training you’ll take for either the PMP or CSM will provide value for you/your employer as well as credibility as a subject matter expert in the marketplace. But the real skills you need, besides an understanding of agile approaches to software development and marketing, are centered around leadership and change management. You’ll need both to affect [often radical] change from the typical marketing approaches employed by agencies and the brands they serve to something very, very different. As Scott Brinker wrote in an essay titled, “Agile marketing for a world of constant change“:
Conventional marketing is complicated. We start with a big strategy. We test that strategy with a set of consumers in highly controlled focus groups. We make a few adjustments. Then all at once — bang! — we do a big launch with everything highly synchronized, from our advertising to the slogans on the t-shirts of retail staff. After the dust settles, we do a whole bunch of analysis and then we start to plan the next big campaign.
But unconventional marketing is much more about adapting to complexity. You start with a little strategy. You engage in iterative cycles of plan-design-launch-measure that are executed tightly together. After a series of iterations, you step back to reflect on insights learned, patterns discovered. And that seamlessly leads into the next little strategy, rising up the learning curve.
You’ve got a boatload of change to manage if you’re going to move any organization from where they are to a more ‘unconventional’ agile framework. That’ll take leadership skills [getting people to do what they ordinarily wouldn't] and transforming yourself into an agent of change. I came across a blog post by Dennis Stevenson that had a few good bullets describing how it feels to be a change agent:
- A change agent lives in the future, not the present. Regardless of what is going on today, a change agent has a vision of what could or should be and uses that as the governing sense of action. To a certain extent, a change agent is dissatisfied with what they see around them, in favor of a much better vision of the future. Without this future drive, the change agent can lose their way.
- A change agent is fueled by passion, and inspires passion in others. Change is hard work. It takes a lot of energy. Don’t underestimate this. I like to think about the amount of energy it takes to boil water. From 212 degree water to 212 degree steam takes a lot more energy than heating water from 211 degrees to 212 degrees. In my experience, without passion, it is very difficult indeed to muster up enough energy to assault the fortress of status quo that seems to otherwise carry the day.
- A change agent has a strong ability to self-motivate. There will be many days where everyone around does not understand and will not offer props. The change agent needs to find it within themselves to get up every day and come to work and risk being misunderstood and misappreciated, knowing that the real validation may be far in the future and may be claimed by someone else.
- A change agent must understand people. At the end of the day, change is about people. If you change everything but the people, I doubt you’ll be effective as a change agent. Change will really “stick” when people embrace it. Therefore, change is part sales, part counseling and part encouragement. It’s all about people.
Bottom line – whatever training you decide to get, it’s not going to hurt you. I’d focus on organizational science, anything and everything agile, a healthy dose of marketing technology [see the Lumascape], and business strategy. You’ve already got the project management skills to help you with process management.
The best way to learn is by doing…so have at it! Let me know how I can help.
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