You may be familiar with Agile Development but how does Agile Marketing work? What are the advantages of such an approach in the current climate? And why does the role of Marketing Product Owner become important as the company portfolio diversifies?
Divante has had a Marketing department from day one but it really took its current form in 2018 when Dawid Pawlicki took over the team, which then only had three people.
“My cooperation with Divante began in December 2017. It was supposed to be just a coffee with Tomasz Karwatka but, as soon as I showed up, a team of 5 people entered the room. We started to talk about what I was doing, what ideas I had, and which direction I would like to go professionally. We took to each other almost immediately and decided on a one-month trial, which then turned into a permanent job. In April 2018, I became the head of the Marketing Department.”Dawid Pawlicki, Head of Marketing at Divante.
In the last year and a half, the department has grown significantly and had 11 permanent members of staff at one point. During this time of intense development, new roles were also created, such as the Head of Content position that has been filled by Justyna Dzikowska. The team also has the support of the company’s leaders, Tomasz and Piotr Karwatka, who both have previous experience in the domain. Working with leaders who have been in your shoes is an advantage but also a challenge; the bar is set high and they are capable of talking about the details of the work. Knowing the limits, they also challenge the team to push beyond them, and that is why it was decided that the Marketing team should take the next important steps by becoming an agile entity.
Agile Marketing at Divante – a positive effect of the coronavirus
As Divante is growing fast and its marketing needs were already increasing when the COVID-19 crisis hit. That was then a tipping point for even more intense work and a huge uplift in the amount that the Marketing team delivers. To cope with the dynamic surge in output, the team had to remodel its processes. Since June, it has been working in an Agile approach.
“Introducing an agile approach in marketing resulted from panic and the fact that it was too hard for us at some point. We started to publish a lot of texts on our blog related to the COVID-19 crisis. We are an eCommerce Technology Company and we felt a duty to share our experience with others, to try and help businesses survive these challenging times. We also continued with all of our previously planned strategy, client materials, presentations, and e-books. We simply knew we had to step up to the plate, but there was a lot of chaos and we were looking for solutions to regain some control. We were already working on Asana and had weekly status meetings to open and close the week. Starting with the agile approach was, therefore, quite natural for us and we found that it solved many of our problems.”Justyna Dzikowska, Head of Content at Divante.
The amount of marketing work during the lockdown period was unprecedented. At the peak, at the turn of April and May, two texts a day were published on the Divante blog, and traffic increased by half. For comparison, a few months earlier, the team averaged two texts per week.
Agile Marketing at Divante – how is it organized?
How does work in Agile look like in the Divante marketing team? The team works in weekly sprints. During Friday’s review meetings, the emphasis is on seeing what was delivered. This approach is consistent with company values like Drive.
“We try to impose the goal of a whole week-long sprint, taking into account the needs of the three business lines in Divante. At the beginning of the week, each member of the marketing team declares what they will work on and what they intend to deliver. At the end of the week, we monitor this. During the week, we have a daily status meeting. It sounds rigid but we are actually very flexible. Sometimes, during sprints, the priorities change and need to be redefined. The planning and status meetings really just help us avoid the inertia characterized by not knowing what a person is doing at a given moment. And here there are no exceptions, even for me as a department manager. I also present what I will do in a given week, and I am held to it by the team. It is also worth mentioning that the team works using the Kanban framework.”Dawid Pawlicki.
A large and vital part of the marketing department is content marketing. The work of the team resembles a fully-fledged, modern online magazine. The basis for planning is the publication calendar in Asana. Also, once every two weeks, the editorial team meets to discuss their ideas for articles. Thanks to this frequency, creators can prepare themselves well and discuss their ideas creatively.
The editorial team not only works creatively and comes up with their topics in line with the company’s marketing vision. The department regularly receives ideas from guilds, project teams, and the management board, as well as from the HR department who they regularly support in their recruitment and employer branding materials. It is not easy to reconcile all these needs, but it works. The company blog is vibrant and is full of valuable texts full of reliable knowledge, data, and interesting stories.
“I am glad that people from all over the company come to us and say what they would like to see on the website and what is interesting for the customers and the industry. We trust them. They give us a substantive input which we then edit, polish, optimize for SEO. We then add photos and graphics and turn it into attractive pieces of content marketing. On the other hand, we prepare content that interests us as marketers and we need the technical teams to augment it with specific information which will give it unique value and insight. The management center of this publication system is the calendar.”Justyna Dzikowska.
The advantages of Agile Marketing at Divante
Agile is usually associated with the organization of IT departments but it also can be adjusted to fit other needs. However, the marketing department does not work in a purely agile methodology.
“We have implemented planning and daily meetings. It’s quite a basic set of tools but we still went through it all with our professional scrum master. We had training on processes and procedures. We implement Agile in a similar way to development teams and there was some initial concern the methodology translates well in areas that are more about processes than products—especially in Divante where we have agencies, products that require one-off actions, and a broad range of tasks. In practice, we manage to control the division into projects and tasks, and we are able to work very efficiently.”Justyna Dzikowska.
How can Agile Marketing help organizations?
Weekly sprints, daily status meetings, and a Kanban framework all better organization of work better and increase the whole team’s productivity.
“There are no more situations where an issue comes up and nothing happens to it for a few weeks. The weekly mode forces us to address issues immediately. If we do postpone something, we do it consciously and everyone knows why.”Justyna Dzikowska.
Focusing on a specific goal and tracking progress
Thanks to weekly sprints, the team can focus more on achieving specific, iterative goals. Faster achievement of smaller goals better motivates the team to keep pushing forwards.
“Occasionally we have to break the big goals, which can last for several weeks, into smaller pieces. This helps us to track the progress of our actions and also helps remove blockers in small sprints.”Dawid Pawlicki.
Agile means total transparency of work. Everyone knows what others are doing and what their priorities are. At Divante, knowledge of the daily tasks of other team members helps people connect the dots. For example, if somebody is dealing with an article at a given moment, the person responsible for publishing knows that they will have to add it to WordPress in a moment and that they can prepare a cover image. The team member responsible also knows that they need to write posts and add them to the social media publishing schedule.
Another advantage of working in Agile marketing is the ability to serve the tribes efficiently. Marketing Product Owners help the team to see the backlog of each tribe and their real needs. This allows for better prioritization of the most critical tasks.
Better assessment of team capabilities
The Divante Marketing department is used to moving at high speed but that can mean that it is hard to stop and count how much time tasks really take. When working fast for a long while, people start to lose the context of how long things really take and can make promises that are difficult to keep.
“We did overrate our capabilities. We can now better estimate the time-specific tasks take and evaluate whether it is feasible to deliver on time. And with each sprint, we are more and more experienced and more accurate with our estimates.”Dawid Pawlicki.
Better team coordination
During the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies started to work remotely. Without meeting in offices, relationships can fall apart and communication may decline. Weekly sprints and daily meetings ensure that the team members see each other often. At Divante, there is a firm rule that, during videoconferences, the cameras are to be turned on so that everyone can see each other. It’s a small thing but goes a long way towards better human relations.
The Marketing Product Owner is a key role in Agile Marketing
One of the key roles in Divante’s transformed Agile Marketing paradigm is the Marketing Product Owner. This new position fits perfectly into the current needs of the company.
“We are remodeling the marketing department so that certain qualified people can take care of specific product lines at Divante. Currently, there are three business lines in the company, and each has slightly different needs. To ensure that these needs are met, we want to have people in the team who take direct care of these lines and deliver results. However, there is always a cross-functional team in the background that supports the people who are focused on their specific lines.”Dawid Pawlicki.
The most crucial Marketing Product Owner tasks are:
– Creating high-quality content
– Generating traffic
– Optimization and lead conversion
The Marketing Product Owner at Divante operates in the space between guilds and the Marketing Team. Their role is to help guilds choose the marketing activities that can bring the most significant effect with the least amount of effort.
“Usually, each guild’s aim is to generate leads for the given technologies in which it works. Their request to us, as a Marketing Department, is to create leads to potential clients they might serve. It’s not a very sophisticated process and does not take advantage of the vast field of marketing and the wide range of different opportunities that are available today. The Marketing Product Owner works with the guild, helping them to choose the best activities, explore new paths, and wisely choose new ways to generate more high-quality leads.”Dawid Pawlicki.
As an example, let’s imagine that a guild has completed a specific project. Previously, they would have created a case study and marketing would have delivered that asset. But nobody really plans a long-term engagement for such things. A Marketing Product Owner will first analyze what kind of case study works best for that particular project, then will think about how the material will be distributed. He or she will plan and create several activities around this single asset, making sure that the team gets the guild gets the most exposure for the project and the marketing team’s efforts are also more effective.
“We are open about which core competence out Marketing Product Owners have. We look for people who specialize in specific areas of marketing but who also understand something about other areas too. People with such competence are often called T-shaped marketers. Ideally, their main specialization is with content, but we also find great Marketing Product Owners who have backgrounds in analytics, growth hacking, lead generation, social media, and some performance areas.”Justyna Dzikowska.
Divante is currently looking for a Marketing Product Owner
The Marketing Product Owner will enjoy great independence and enormous development opportunities. This is an excellent developmental position for a person with little experience but great potential.
“We are not looking for Marketing Directors with years of experience. We rather want to find ambitious people with a couple of years under their belts, preferably in IT or digital, either with an agency or a software house. We value people who are self-sufficient but the Agile Marketing structure creates enough transparency and support for people who need a little more help to also be successful.”Justyna Dzikowska.
In the work of Marketing Product Owner at Divante, experience in running projects is more important than technical know-how. A person in this position should create a route map for a given quarter or half-year and plan it in detail. The role offers great development opportunities. Divante works with international brands, for global clients, and in English.
“This position also gives a lot of room for experiments and exercises. As each product is largely independent, it can be treated like a startup. There is not one strategy for all products and each MPO has a lot of influence on their area. On the other hand, you do not work in a start-up where the situation is uncertain, especially in a crisis. You have a big stable company with the willing support of a cross-functional team of almost a dozen people.”Justyna Dzikowska.
Want to know more about the Marketing Product Owner in Divante? Check out our recent article about Tomasz Anioł, who progressed through various positions to take the significant step of becoming a Marketing Product Owner for Vue Storefront—the most critical product in the global company.
Sounds interesting? Divante is recruiting for a Marketing Product Owner!
Published September 9, 2020