agilemarketing, content marketing, social media, Strategy, user experience

Who’s your target market?

When defining who our product or service is for – there are many tools and mechanisms at our disposal. A buyer persona or picture of the median or average customer you hope to reach is often one of the first steps.

Creating a ‘buyer persona’ can involve data mining, client interviews and many internal refinement sessions.

Adding psychographic segmentation can provide valuable profiling and meat to your persona. It can give you leads to their lifestyle, their habits and how they will react to your messages and brand.

Leverage your social media analytics for demographic targeting and Sociographics

Through a quick review of your Facebook fans you can establish the most dominant basic demographics for your brand. For example your median customer may be male between the age of 18 and 25 and living in London.

Examining your Facebook page analytics you can quickly confirm this through the Audience Insights area. You need a reasonable sample size to gain accuracy. Yet even a fan base of 1000 likes on Facebook can prove useful. Providing they are genuine fans and you have not been “like gating”  or buying fans.

With Audience Insights, you’ll be able to see demographic information about your target audience. Things like:

  • Demographic trends about age and gender, relationship status, and job roles.
  • Lifestyle and interest information about your target audience.
  • Purchase information about your target audience. Including which categories they’re most likely to buy in and location data that may help you identify where to run special promotions or host events.

As you can see, this could not only validate our median man is 18 to 25 and from London, but could possibly refine to neighbourhoods, typical purchase categories and what their lifestyle is like.

Examine how your target demographic may behave through psychographics

We can take this data a step further with psychographic segmentation to get a feel for how they may act or react to our messaging, engagement and marketing.

You may be aware of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

maslow

Advertising company Young and Rubicam took this pyramid and extrapolated it. Their research created seven psychographic profiles using Cross Cultural Consumer Characterisation (‘4Cs’ for short). They then mapped the US population to these profiles. You can find out your Psychograpic tendencies by completing their survey.

Psychographics can help us with an understanding of our buyer persona’s:

  • activity, interest, opinion (AIOs)
  • attitudes
  • values
  • and behaviors.

Here are the seven definitions. Young and Rubicam also provided rough percentage figures for the people that below to each profile in the USA. (These numbers also translate roughly to any marketplace.)

Belongers – 40% of the population:

If we were to stereotype Belongers they’re people that live in the average town in the midwest of the USA. They love community, loves being with family and friends. They have an innate need to belong to a group, be that a church, sports group or fan club. These people frequently drive local made vehicles – trucks, sedans and station wagons. They are very nationalistic, and don’t like change. Their best time is spent with their friends, talking, having fun, hanging out. They are hard working, and are extremely conservative in their views, and most likely religious. Their typical Saturday is driving their locally made people mover to church, football practice and then home to watch the game. Think trailergaters at NASCAR or Manchester United fanatics.

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Image:Ted van Pelt

What resonates?

Make sure your messaging is family or community oriented. Emphasize  if your product or service is made LOCALLY and is the same as things have always been. Words like trusted,  reliable and made right here resonate. They believe good thing take time – even marketing and are willing to build a personal relationship with a brand. They all by Levis because they trust it and always have.  Belongers are brand loyal, get them to buy once and they tend to stay with you.

What alienates?

Belongers hate anything new, foreign and game changing. Worse still if it fragments them from their community. One-on-one Bikram hot Yoga training would be their worst nightmare.

Achiever – 5 to 7% of the population:

Achievers are the business elite. The one percenters. Constant growth focus and need for power and status are key. They work 100 hour weeks. they wear own and drive the best. Think top hedge fund managers, bankers, Fortune 500 CXOs and the elite entrepreneurs.

The opposite to belongers – Achievers will go so far as to customise their elite vehicles, just to make sure it set them apart. They buy top of the line Rolls Royce, Maybach or Bugatti and will then spend the price of an average car in upgrading and personalising.

They don’t shop – they bring the tailor in. Where the masses enter – they exit.

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image: Axlon23

What resonates?

You need an elevator pitch – don’t waste their time. Make it personal, innovative and elite. Talk about power, money, and profit.

What alienates?

Slow, stumbling presentations about old, common, conservative, non-innovative products. Talk about how your product will homogenize  them and make them part of a community – one of the masses.

Emulator / Wanna be – 15% of the population:

These guys are achiever groupies. Everything they do is to try and look like an achiever. Thier Subconscious war cry is “fake it till you make it”.  Yet their motivator is often acceptance amongst peers or from the opposite sex. Not the relentless focus on power and wealth that Achievers have.

They buy BMW 1 series – just to say they have a BMW. Wear fake Rolex or cheaper “luxury” brands. The product that is one step down from what their idol Achiever is wearing.

But its not limited to business people – this group could be emulating top musicians, sports stars or actors too. This group suffers from low self esteem and needs peer approval. They will spend whatever money they have on anything that will make them look like their ideal: “successful”.

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Image: M:93

What resonates?

Anything that can make them look like an achiever, successful and appeal to their peers or the opposite sex.

What alienates?

Telling them they’re fine the way they are, to settle and that this will make them normal.

Socially Conscious Type A – 25% of the population:

Thier main focus is the effect their actions will have on the world. They’re environmentally concerned, they recycle, have solar power and their car will be at the least economical and practical – if not solar. They feel no need to belong, but are conscious for the community as a whole and want to make a difference. Education is paramount and most are highly educated with one or two university degrees. They like to help the homeless and the poor, the socially disadvantaged.

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Image: Windel Oskay

What resonates?

This profile has seen the most growth in recent years. Your product or service must make a difference to either society or the environment. Educated and savvy Socially Concious type A will Google your product or service and do the research. They spot fake environmentalism and social conscience in a second. They will need physical proof and tar industries with the same brush – so you’ll need to be totally transparent to win them over.

What alienates?

Simply show the power and money your organisation makes – ignore Kyoto initiatives and carbon offsetting. Better yet – pollute waters around baby seal colonies.

Socially Conscious Type B – 7% of the population:

All of the Socially Conscious Type A characteristics apply here – but type B believes that there is no hope for humanity as a whole. They have rationalised that they can only change things for s small group. You’ll find them in Ecovillages, communes and on islands.

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Image: Tom Chance

What resonates?

Very little will reach this group as they are recluse and consume very little media or internet.

Anyone who is fighting against “the Man”.

What alienates?

“The Man”

Balanced / Totally integrated 1 to 2% of the population:

A mixture of the Achiever and Socially Conscious types, these few get ahead by thinking about others and the world we live in.  Their subconscious mantra might well be Harry S Trumans quote:

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit”.

Their definition of good project may very well list like the successes of Truman.

Yvon Chouinard – CEO of Patagonia is the perfect example of this profile.

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Image: Sam Beebe

What resonates?

Benefitting mankind as a whole and doing it in a way that sustains momentum (a profit to keep building their business ethically).

What alienates?

Much like their Type A counterparts they will spot anything but ultra transparency and fakes with ease and hate it.

Needs driven 15% of the population:

Either on benefits or in and around the minimum wage this group are socially reliant and can’t afford to save money. They spend when they have it and beyond. Their mode is survival. Yet curiously they will buy from the local store in the moment rather than take the bus to a large retailer where they could get it cheaper.

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Image: Shawn Leishman

What resonates?

I think I have just discovered my inner Socially Conscious Type A as I find it hard to justify targeting this group. Those aiming to sell not help this market should use urgency and how your product will make them look rich and be happy now. Use fear. Impulse buying on infomercials and once in a lifetime offers are the key. Reinforce their low self esteem and how your product will change that.

What alienates?

Price. And any type of reminder that they are struggling.

What other brands do your fans follow? This will indicate their psychographic profile.

Leveraging these profiles are a great step to creating buyer personas that resonate further. Of course there will be those who fit within these groups well and many who are a mixture of two or more profiles.

Look at other brands your fans like on Facebook and you will validate your psychographic assumptions.

  • BMW, Armani,  and Mens Fitness – you have got a tribe of Emulators
  • Patagonia, Zopa, Toms Shoes and Tesla – You may well have a tribe of Socially Conscious Type A
  • NASCAR, Budweiser, and ESPN – Sounds like a Belongers tribe.

I challenge you to explore creating content that appeals to one or two of these markets. Test how your product or service would sit with each of the profiles. More and more Generation Y and Z are aligning with Socially Conscious Type A each day so pay particular attention to this crowd.

Get technical and create multiple variants. Do some A/B testing of your landing pages and switch out your imagery and creatives on social media. This might reveal the true nature of your target audience and which half of your marketing is useless.

What change will you be making to your messaging and marketing online with these in mind?

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say less to be remembered more
agilemarketing, blogging, content marketing

Good Marketing

Good marketing uses technology, insights and the right questions.

It gives the right audience, the right message, at the right time.

It shows us how a brand can solve our problems. Sometimes problems we didn’t know we had.

It can either entertain you or make you feel more inclined to buy from a brand. When it does both, you’re onto a winner.


Why do we do this Content Marketing thing?

With content marketing we try to address our audience’s problems at various stages of the buyer’s journey. We help them discover a solution to their problem and keep them coming back to us – their trusted solution provider. Our constant battle is for the attention of that audience. Big companies are realising that they need to build or acquire their own audience, so as to not fall foul of Facebook Edge-rank or Google algorithm updates.

Companies need to start thinking of themselves as retailers AND media companies

One company that has done this well recently is Surfstitch. They acquired two media properties Magicseaweed and Stab Magazine (great names). Combined they have around 3 million visitors a year and they are interweaving articles featuring their products to become not only surfing’s biggest online retailer, but also the biggest industry content network.

https://twitter.com/worldnews_net/status/598291602629664768

If this video is anything to go by, they will have me discovering a whole range of solutions they have to my problems.

It seems I didn’t realise I needed a custom bike to ride up the Indonesian coast to go surfing. They’re appealing to the hearts and emotions of their audience – not to the features of their product.

Oh and if surfing/bikes/the open road is your thing – check this out

Their latest film – North To Noosa.

I can see there being more brands that will take to content creation as a source of brand value and distinction.

Netflix even paid journalists a good sum to create great editorial – like this piece on women in prison to link to their new series Orange is the new black

Empathy, respect and love will ultimately keep your audience, clients, coworkers, lover friends and family EVERYONE coming back.

If you can interweave your unique purpose, principles and pet peeves into entertaining them – you’ll stand out as their trusted provider.

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turn your nontent into great content - Value your tribe
agilemarketing, content marketing, social media, thoughts

Stop The Nontent – Create Epic Content

You, as a member of my tribe intimidate me. I’m scared into not posting, through fear of as my friend AJ puts it – posting NONTENT. You know, that: meh, blah, filler, “like or share if you agree” type content. I need our connection and the learning I get from consuming your content. I want to share value to get value.

But it struck me. That is the exact message I want to give this week.

Create Epic Value And Give It Away

As many will know by now the rationale behind inbound or content marketing is to create content that answers questions that potential customers may have. In essence you are aiming to be the subject matter expert for your product, industry and niche. The main aim being to subscribe them to a content journey that ultimately converts them to purchase or partner with your brand.

The byproduct of creating answers to questions your customers may have is a bank of SEO rich pages for Google to index. If you are checking the terms people use to find your website, and using Google’s keyword planner (or other optimisation tools), over time this bank of content should ultimately help push you up the SERPs. Getting you closer to number one in Google.

The trouble now, more than ever, is that we are all creating content and competing for eyeballs. Facebook and Twitter are overloaded, YouTube is flooded, even the TV has far too many channels for us to watch. We need to go beyond just answering problems to actively adding value with our content.

One answer is to create unique audience specific content – go niche.

One great example of giving away useful content is the website www.backofanapkin.co.nz created by Sacha Judd of the law firm Buddle Findlay.

Back of a napkin - a startup tool

The website, aimed at start-ups, provides a boilerplate company document. It outlines the main points of a company’s structure to ensure its is documented – covering things like: the parties involved, who gets what share of ownership, who gets what profits and how decisions are made.

Lightly branded with a Buddle Findlay letterhead, it’s a valuable tool for startups and connects them with a community.

I also made a little form last year to help people conduct a Digital and Social Media audit. It is designed to help small businesses check that they are on the right path and to develop a short roadmap to getting their digital presence right. I hope it has some value for a small business looking to get their online profile right.

Even though it is in essence the exact same strategy I would use with a multinational company or personal brand – it’s ingredients. It’s not the mix, nor the exact methods i’d use to bake my online cake. Hopefully it entices a few more people to check me out as a potential chef. Digital marketing chef that is.

Although that epic piece of valuable content can be related to your core business it could equally be about a unique technique, skills or knowledge you have developed. Brett Kelly was an avid user of Evernote – so much so that he decided to create Evernote Essentials a book that sold 16000 copies. This ultimately led to him being employed by Evernote.

Here are a few others that have already gotten in on the game:

  • John Deer with their Furrow Magazine
  • Adobe with CMO.com
  • Lego with The Lego Club Magazine
  • Copyblogger.com
  • American Express Open Forum
  • Entrepreneur on fire

So my challenge to you is to take what you think is IP – Intellectual Property and turn it into something VIP – Valuable Interesting and Popular.

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Scrum stand up
agilemarketing, How To, social media, Strategy

Using the POST Method to define online initiatives

The POST Method – is a method for defining strategy that’s been around for the web equivalent of a lifetime. Back in 2007 the good folks at Forrester coined the POST methodology. I’ve found it to be a fantastic tool for making strategic and tactical decisions around projects online.If you haven’t guessed it’s not a strategy around posting things on blogs or social media, it’s an acronym.

The method starts with People

Scrum stand up

Clearly defining who your target audience is and what are they like is key to any project – it labels who you are trying to reach. the tighter the description here the better. Most marketing and communication fails by trying to appeal to too wider audience. There’s a are a phrase I love around this – “If you try to please everyone, you please no one”.

Everyone with a pulse or middle aged men is not a defined target market.

Now you could leverage buyer personas – which are kind of like an ideal profile of your target. You could use existing client data to find the median person. the demographic and psychographic profile of your main customer.

One simple way to do this is to go check the demographics of your facebook page fans. I wrote a post on this last month for insiderCXM (reposted here) if you’re interested. With a simple look at your stats you can see your median age, sex, and their location. You might be surprised and find out you’re targeting the opposite, but lets hope it fits with what you were thinking. Dig a little deeper by looking at the pages they like and you can start to get a feel for their psychographic profile too.

Now if your target audience is not on Facebook or if you’re properly into this you should slo do some market research and interview some existing and or potential customers. its the best way to create the perfect persona.

What partnerships could get you to this audience?

The second part to this people equation is working out what partnerships could get you to this audience and how could help you communicate with them? Your research might show that they are all fans of a big sports team – so partnering with them and doing a little brandscaping might work.

Someone must be accountable for driving this to success

The third part is working out initial thoughts on a RASCI chart for the initiative, who is responsible, accountable, consulted and informed about it. You may not have all the seats, but for anything to happen someone must be accountable for driving it to success.

Ok so you’ve got a clear idea of who you want to reach and who’s involved. What do you want to tell them. What’s the Objective of what you’re doing? the O of POST.

Objectives: Here you can outline the message or action or goal you have for this audience.

What are your goals? Are you more interested in listening in order to gain insights? are you messaging to them or communicating an initiative or campaign? Do you want to engage with brand ambassadors or just get someone along to a gig? Once you know what you want, then you can drive how you will act.

That’s The Strategy – Let’s say I start communicating as the CEO with my fans on Facebook or Twitter – what will my company do if people reply – what if they say something bad, what if they have great ideas – how do I get them in a backlog , how do I prioritise them. This is the strategy – planning for how you change your relationship with customers? What do you want to get out of these relationships? Which direction do you want to take and what is the underlying proposition?

With these strategic decisions made – then and only then – do we get onto the final part. The part where most people start. You know the phrases – “We should be on Facebook, everyone’s there” or “are we tweetering this?”

Choosing the right Technology

It’s here you define the medium that best matches your audience, the message you want to give and how you will change your organisation when you meet your objectives.

you look at what applications or websites you should you use? SEO, SEM, and how much time should this take? This step reflects the choices you make in the first three steps. if the people you want to connect with aren’t on Facebook or hate video messages or will demand transparent rapid responses – something your P O and S answers have determined – then making a viral cat video to post on Facebook is just wrong.

So once again – People first, Objectives and goals next, Strategy and then LAST – Technology that will help you get there.

If you like to hear more about this and a few other things that I think are really useful, check out my latest podcast.

And you can subscribe here

on iTunes
or SoundCloud

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agilemarketing, content marketing, ecommerce, social media

eCommerce, advertising and messaging to the phase your buyer is in

When it comes to shopping and buying – be it online or offline – there’s are distinct modes or phases in which we operate.

  1. Researching – what do I want?
  2. Searching – where can I get it?
  3. Purchasing – how do I get it now?

Much like taking the wrong bus or missing the express, being driven to the wrong part of your website or shown the wrong message can really ruin a user’s experience. So creating distinct or at least relevant experiences for each of the three phases is key.

Traffic coming in from search engines to your website – and the keyword terms used – can give a very strong signal of the intent a customer has to purchase. It can in some cases tell us exactly which mode a buyer is in. So lets look at the various phases.

Educate your potential customers with Content Marketing

When people are arriving at your website from broad search terms they are in the first of our phases as a buyer – discovering what’s on offer and what potential solutions there are to my needs.

It is here that through content marketing you can educate clients of the benefits of your products, help solve their problems, and make them aware of your brand and your solutions.

You should be answering any questions clients have around benefits of our products. You could help out by comparing products through a comparison infographic or article. This should all be created with the intention of easily sharing on Facebook and Social Media.

On social media you can support the discovery of your brand by sharing answers to their question. But given that at this stage many may not be aware that your brand has answers to their problems (and that we don’t go to Facebook to shop – we go to be entertained and informed) your social media posts should also create brand awareness. Videos around successful customers, or posts about your brand can help to create an affinity with the WHY of your organisation.

LEGO, Johnnie Walker and Apple are notoriously good at tapping into deeper underlying needs that we surface as needs for their products or at least to connect with their brand. Check out their brand videos on YouTube for ideas.

When they’re searching – make sure they know the great range of products you have – right now!

If a customer is in the searching mode, providing a faceted search of your full range of products is key. eCommerce experts and successful eCommerce platforms are such because they have mastered the art of displaying products in a way that is easy to navigate, search and refine. Even so, as buyers we can often find the breadth of products on offer too much or too hard for us to decide, so as customers we have methods that we use to simplify difficult decision making (Heuristics).

There’s two Heuristics here that can play to your advantage – abundance or availability and scarcity.

Abundance

You need to ensure that a potential customer can see you have a broad range of products, and that in shopping with us they’re not missing out on options elsewhere. This could be through displaying the number of results on a page, the number sold today, the number of similar items and the social proof of likes or shares of an item on Facebook. These would indicate a wide range, and that others have purchased here before.

Scarcity

Conversely, scarcity can be used here to push a customer through to purchase. Maybe with a count beside each of the number left in stock (be it real or fabricated as I’m sure many websites do).

Some companies ensure exclusivity from suppliers of a certain colour, team logo or model that will appeal to audiences. Limited editions like Jordans, the Sebastian Vettel Lexus FX50, or Jamie Oliver cookware.

While in this mode shoppers know some things they might be after – but you also have to support those who as Henry Ford is misquoted as saying – might not know they need your product.

“If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a better horse”
– Not said by Henry Ford.

If a customer is purchasing – stay out of their way!

A customer that uses the phase “iPhone 6 white 64GB” has a strong intent to purchase that item and already knows the model, colour and memory size she is after. She also knows that memory is a distinct feature of iPhones.

If you are supporting the organic or natural ranking of your web pages on Google with paid advertising, an advert for this phrase should point directly to your eCommerce shop and to the page of the White iPhone 6 with 64GB of memory. The landing page should have a clear call to action to add to cart and purchase. Even better you could pre-populate a guest cart with the phone already added.

A large image of the phone should confirm you’ve got what they’re after. As this is a filtered results page of your own product search, there should be the ability to X out some of the filtered items – like the colour or memory – BUT DON’T let this get in the way of the main call to action.

BUY NOW

So remember to address your buyers just like a good bricks and mortar shop would do.

  1. Have a display for those just window browsing who may not even know they need your product
  2. carefully lay out your store in sections for easy browsing and searching
  3. and get your express self checkout isle humming for those that just want to buy.


Image courtesy of St3f4n

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agilemarketing, content marketing, How To

How I work

Learning the best techniques, tools and apps to do your job is a personal journey we’re all taking.  I thought I’d cover the tools I use in content creation and hope you might find some useful.

And, having subscribed to shotkit.com for photography inspiration – here’s a shot of my kit.

My Desktop, HP ProBook, Sony Z1 and iPad Air

Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Current computers: HP Probook laptop, 2014 Mac Pro (when our designer is off site), 2011 Sony Vaio touch VPC at home.

Current mobile devices: IPad Air, iPad 3 and Sony Xperia Z1 Z3 (a Christmas upgrade from Spark – waterproof and 20.1 megapixels of goodness with 4K video. Backups? = Z1, HTC SV and Samsung S2).

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

APPS for WORK

  • Evernote – for storing ideas, lists, research and contacts. I pay to have it auto save and back up – It comes in handy when you’re using it on multiple mobile devices.
  • Google Now – for finding the quickest public transport to my destination and recommending photo opportunities and new restaurants. Then the Auckland Transit app (far more accurate and useful than the Auckland Transport app and with all the functionality that it misses).
  • Foursquare (and the annoying sibling forced upon us – Swarm), for verifying the restaurant/destination is good and grabbing discounts
  • Email (OWA 365 and Gmail).
  • Trello for managing my blog, and work workflow and prioritisation of my backlog. I even have a ‘Home’ work board, for my DIY and home maintenance tasks.
  • Instagram– because I’m passionate about photography and know “the best camera is the one you have with you?”
  • SoundCloud – for recording thoughts
  • Dragon dictate – fantastic when you have to get something down on paper faster than you can type it.

APPS for SOCIAL MEDIA

Buffer, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, GPlus and Facebook (but Facebook only on my iPads so I can concentrate on my other feeds during the day).

APPS for BLOGGING

WordPress app – for blogging
Tinyletter for my newsletter
Typeform– for creating stock content and forms like my free digital marketing audit.

APPS for LEARNING

Last, but most important – Feedly – for consuming RSS feeds.

TOP TIP – I read from Feedly, and save content there and in readability. I then Buffer content for social media from there.

Zite, Flipboard and Swayy try to be my filters for new content although I rarely open them.

I do however skim read the newsletters from CMInstitute, Econsultancy, BCM what’s next and Fraggle when they arrive.

What’s your workspace like?
I live in Torbay and Waiake is my nearest beach where I work from home if it’s good weather – or on the couch at home.

I walk every lunch hour for the full hour

I telecommute on occasion but work is based in Newmarket, surrounded by three dormant volcanoes, Mount Eden, Saint John and Hobson. Each providing a good lunch hour stroll with enough incline to get the heart going and the mind refreshed.

I walk every lunch hour for the full hour and listen to podcasts.

At work I rotate from – my laptop sitting desk – to a  Mies van der Rohe seat – to a stand up desk with my iPad.

What’s your best time-saving shortcut or lifehack?

Perform a stand up twice a day. Review what you’re doing, what’s working, what’s not and what you’ll adjust for tomorrow.

What everyday thing are you better at than anybody else? Simplifying.

What’s your favorite to-do list manager? Trello.

What do you listen to while at work? My colleague switches us through gangster rap and hard rock radio stations each day and I have a few DJs I switch to on SoundCloud like DJ Theresa when I’m in a creative flow state or Brazilian Samba or a

What are you currently reading? Good To Great having just finished

What’s your sleep routine like? To bed at around 22:00 or 23:00 and awake at 05:20 each day. On the weekends I get to bed when I tire (a little earlier usually if we’ve had a good day at the beach).

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

 It doesn’t matter what you study at university, college or school, you’re just there to learn ‘how to learn’ the best you can. Get good at that, and everything else gets better. – David Allen (my grandfather).

Anything else you want to add? Dan Miller put the notion of teamwork well in a podcast I discovered this week.  A Clydesdale can pull 8 tonnes alone but as a pair they can pull 24, and with training 32 tonnes.

Fill in the Blank: I’d love to see BLANK answer these questions. I’d love to see Dan, Anya, AJ, Simone, Scot and Chuck answer these questions.


My gear

Computer writing desk
110 NZD – target.com

Knoll folding armchair
9,365 NZD – connox.com

Evernote Market
evernote.com
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Agile, agilemarketing

Podcast: Agile Development and some surprising upshots with Jason Wills

Agile Project management techniques, lean principles, learning and iterating are things that I’ve become quite passionate about over the last years.

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Seeing the results that “Going Agile” can bring to an organisation in terms of delivering value to the end user and business value over and beyond traditional methods gets me happy. It makes me think of the other applications for agile outside of software development – ways to really challenge organisations to take it to other teams like marketing and even into the sales and the recruitment process as well.
I even think in minimal viable product terms when I look at websites, marketing materials and even my renovation list at home.

I’ve been down in Christchurch today. Our fighting city in New Zealand that’s grinding its way to recovery from two city flattening earthquakes. A town of survivors, reminded of loss each day. A town that needs to iterate fast to get back on its feet and adopt new practices. We talk of digital disruption, we’ll this town has every disruption, from its core, to its psyche, it’s direction, transportation, infrastructure and lives turned upside down.

Many would say the town council needs to adopt some lines from the agile manifesto “working content over documentation” and “Simplicity – the art of maximizing the amount of work not done – is essential”. Getting themselves up to speed again and functioning in a new normal shall we say.

Despite the hardships the city faces, Jason Wills the CIO of Harcourts introduced me to an excited team. Enthusiastic, that’s focused on improvement and learning. A team that is excited about bringing value to our end users. A team that has adapted Agile project management quickly. Despite being only in their second year of agile the team sizes epics with great accuracy (chunks of work taken into a cycle of development) and knows what they can accomplish in a sprint cycle (the time frames they work in).

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Jason and I had a fantastic day and thought we’d summarise some of the key points in a podchat – yes autocorrect I’m making a new word – for you.

Some of the pieces that most surprised me were:

  • Our commitment to agile, going all in with a coach and training
  • The rate of agile adoption in New Zealand amongst CIOs
  • The surprising side effects of agile adoption
  • The breakdown of knowledge silos
  • The resolution of business continuity issues through the sharing if knowledge
  • How it has lead to greater transparency
  • How the artefacts of scrum, like the scrum board with post it notes depicting workflow, have really helped business prioritisation
  • And yes, even some agile marketing slips into the mix which I’m amplifying as we role out our strategy.

I’ll let Jason continue the journey but please let me know what you think of this podcast format and if you’d like to hear more. I’m keen to start talking about incremental improvements, business value and that crossover between online and offline.

I’ve been talking to another of our Harcourts leaders Gilbert Enoka, the mental skills coach for New Zealand’s greatest sporting team the mighty All Blacks rugby squad. Hopefully he’ll share some tips and insights in a coming podcast too!

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