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June 2014 archive

Part 4: Do I Really Need a ScrumMaster for Agile Marketing?

In the previous posts, I discussed the pro’s and con’s of making your Marketing Owner or a team member also fill the Scrum Master role.  There’s another option but it’s so obvious it didn’t warrant an entire blog post.  If you already have a dedicated project manager in your marketing organization, they can also be a good candidate.  Just think through the pro’s and con’s I explained for the other candidates and apply the same thinking when considering a project manager as your Scrum Master.Physical-Training

In any case, the most important part of their transition is clear:

Get them real training!

For most people, that means going to a Certified Scrum Master (CSM) class.  These are offered frequently just about everywhere nowadays.  One caveat – those training classes use software development for their context, but it’s pretty easy for a marketer to figure out how to apply the lessons to the marketing domain.  This is especially true if you take my Agile Marketing Boot Camp first and then attend CSM training.  While my Boot Camp explains how to use Scrum in marketing, a dedicated CSM class gives additional insights into Scrum and best-practices for Scrum Masters so I still recommend it.

Another way to get training is to use a coach. Many people, myself included, offer coaching services where we work with you to see how you work, identify ways to improve, and give you hands-on assistance in making those changes.

If you’re looking to transition a project manager into the Scrum Master role, you may be tempted to think they don’t need additional training.  However, the Scrum Master role involves a lot more team-building and people-skills than traditional project management roles.  In fact, the most widely recognized certification organization for project managers (PMI) has additional certification requirements for project managers who work with Agile teams.  So they definitely need training too.

Regardless of who you’re getting to transition into the Scrum Master role, keeping these points in mind will help:

  • Scrum Masters are not “bosses” or dictators – they must trust the team to figure out “how” and “how-long” and then hold them accountable.
  • Accountability will probably be the biggest change for all involved.  It’s not about who’s busy or not busy – it’s about doing the things the team committed-to and by the time the team committed-to.
  • Expect a learning curve for all involved.  Relationships need time to change.  And just like everyone else in Scrum, Scrum Masters will improve from sprint to sprint.
  • In my opinion, the best Scrum Masters wield a “velvet hammer”.  They are soft and smooth but everyone knows there’s a steel core with real weight to it just below the surface.


Web Seminar Recap: How to Optimize a Landing Page

Landing page optimization is a vital skill for any online marketer. Not only is it important to optimize for website traffic, but conversions as well. Landing page optimization is also effective for any number of online campaigns. PPC, SEO and email campaigns all have landing pages that should be optimized for conversions, ultimately impacting revenue. In this web seminar we went through several steps about how to optimize a landing page. Those areas included:

  • Elements of high-converting landing pages
  • The perfect landing page anatomy
  • How to maximize SEO and usability on your landing pages
  • How a/b testing plays a role in landing page optimization

Attendees left this web seminar with an arsenal of tools and a step-by-step checklist for how to immediately optimize landing pages for the biggest revenue impacts.

This one hour web seminar, How to Optimize a Landing Page, was held on Wednesday, June 25th, 2014 by Cedric Williams.

Want to catch up? Download the slides and recording here.

Part 3: Do I Really Need a ScrumMaster for Agile Marketing?

not-so-easy-buttonIn my last post, I explained some pro’s and con’s for mixing the Scrum Master and Marketing Owner roles, and why it may look really appealing but it’s actually hard to pull-off successfully.  So who else can we get to wear the Scrum Master hat?  The next likely candidate is a member of your Scrum team.

To start, which team member is a good candidate?  You won’t like the answer so let me start with an explanation of who’s a bad candidate: your most inexperienced and/or least-critical team member.  We’ll call him “Junior”.

After all, since Junior doesn’t contribute as much critical work, there’s less impact on our team if we shift some of his time to being a Scrum Master.  So why is this a horrendously bad idea?

  • Other team members don’t respect Junior so they won’t listen to his feedback
  • Junior doesn’t know enough about the actual work the team does to have much insight into ways to improve.
  • Junior has no street-cred with key people outside your team who are often blocking progress (legal, execs, sales, etc.) so they won’t give his requests the attention they require.

In other words, while Junior can handle the administrative stuff like taking notes and updating burn-down charts, Junior will be completely ineffective at the highest-value Scrum Master activities.

Who’s the best candidate then?  You want someone that has a broad understanding of marketing activities, is respected by team members, and is well-known by people outside of marketing.  We’re likely talking about one of your most experienced and most valuable contributors.  We’ll call her “Sarge” – and for you military folks, yep, we really are looking for someone who’s like a senior enlisted person, e.g. a sergeant.  Which is why you’re getting chest pains just thinking about losing a significant portion of Sarge’s time to being a Scrum Master.  It’s actually not as bad as you think – in fact, it can be a great move:


  • Sarge has good relationships with team members and understands their work, making her effective at spotting collaboration opportunities and removing technical/internal obstacles.
  • Sarge has the experience and insight to “keep the team honest” for both estimates and amount of work committed-to.
  • Sarge has enough street-cred with the team to have their suggestions and coaching taken seriously.


  • Expectation that you’re going to decrease your team’s productivity because Sarge is doing less marketing work.
  • May be awkward for the Scrum Master to hold Sarge accountable for Sarge’s tasks when they’re the same person.
  • Early-on, it’s easy to underestimate the Scrum Master’s workload and wind up overestimating Sarge’s individual capacity to do sprint tasks.


Why Native Advertising is Good for SEO

This blog was originally posted on

Native advertising is one element that can positively influence search engine optimization (SEO), but what is it and how does it integrate with an online marketing strategy?

These are key questions, because it’s important to understand which tools are available and if they can help achieve specific, quantifiable goals.

What is Native Advertising?

As its name implies, native ads are those that fit naturally within the content landscape. They are commonly seen on social media platforms that offer advertising programs, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Whereas display ads are positioned atop or to the side of the main page content, native advertising is aligned with it.


Am I Eligible for a GSA Discount?

ASPE has a special approach and consideration for government clients in order to address their unique needs and concerns. We offer reduced pricing on many of our products for federal, state and local government clients through the GSA Discount. But who qualifies for this great opportunity?

Entities Eligible for GSA Discount:

    1. Executive Agencies
      • Example: Export-Import Bank of US
    2. Other federal agencies, mixed-ownership Government corporations, the District of Columbia, qualified nonprofit agencies for the blind or severely handicapped individuals for providing service to the Government
    3. The Senate, the House of Representatives, and activities under the direction of the Architect of the Capitol
    4. State, local, regional, and tribal governments
    5. Institutes for higher education (excluding private institutions)
    6. Tribes and Tribal Organizations
    7. Certain Institutions that assist the disabled:
      • Howard University
      • Gallaudet University
      • National Technical Institute for the Deaf
      • American Printing House for the Blind
    8. Governments of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands
    9. The American Red Cross and other voluntary nonprofit relief agencies

We strive to provide our customers with the highest quality and most challenging education programs. Whether it is for a Fortune 500 corporation or government agency, we have an excellent track record of transferring knowledge that delivers real results. When you take advantage of this great discount and classes, you’ll quickly come to experience the confidence that comes after you let us train your team.

For more specific information on GSA Eligibility click here!

Web Seminar Recap: 5 Things You Should Stop Doing Immediately in SEO

With all the changes that Google makes, you have to be very careful with all of your SEO practices.  Techniques that were once used, tried and true, no longer work.  Moreover, these antiquated techniques will land you in the Google penalty sandbox.  This is detrimental to any business that relies on the Internet and search engines for online traffic.

This web seminar covered five SEO techniques that you must stop doing immediately.  Some of the topics discussed included:

•        The truth about guest blogging
•        Anchor text, keywords, and other meta data myths
•        Are links still the number one ranking factor

Discover the in depth five specific SEO techniques that need to be avoided immediately in order to excel in your search efforts.  Furthermore, we reviewed those items that are now deemed extremely important to Google for any search optimization campaigns.

This one hour web seminar, 5 Things You Should Stop Doing Immediately in SEO, was held on Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 by Cedric Williams and Jeremy Smith.

Want to catch up? Download the slides and recording here.

How to Maximize Your LinkedIn Experience with 3 Simple Tasks

linkedin-logoLinkedIn has traditionally been viewed as a job-searching tool by many people.  With more than 39 million students and recent college graduates on LinkedIn, it is easy to have that perception.  LinkedIn even notes on their site that this particular group is the fastest-growing demographic. With that, LinkedIn is still a powerful tool for people who are established in their careers and looking to make work-related connections.

Unfortunately, many people do not use LinkedIn well. They may set up an account and forget about it, never logging in to add updates. Or they send invitations to connect with people simply to increase the number of their connections, not understanding that LinkedIn is not a numbers game. In this post I walk you through some weekly tasks to help you make the most of your LinkedIn network. Doing these things on a regular schedule will help you establish and grow a meaningful network.

Make a Meaningful Connection During and After a Meeting

Let’s first step back and think about how you connect with people at in-person networking meetings.  Are you simply collecting business cards and viewing these events solely as way to gain as many names as possible for your sales database? If so, it’s time to change your approach and view these meetings as opportunities to find ways to help other people, and learn about what kind of work they do, instead of the traditional mindset of collecting names so you can sell, sell, sell. When you change your approach to one of giving rather than taking, your connections on LinkedIn will be much more valuable. When you leave an event and log on to LinkedIn later in the day to connect, refrain from sending the generic follow up, “I’d like to add you to my professional network.” That is not the best approach and yes, I’m guilty of going that route on several occasions. However, a more successful invite will be specific for that contact as well as sincere.

Here’s an example, “Hi [name], I enjoyed meeting you at the luncheon today. You mentioned an interest in [topic] and I wanted to tell you about [event] happening next week. It looks like something that may be relevant to your business.” This example is a short, simple message, yet it conveys much more than the generic invitation.

1)    Using the individual’s name shows that you were thinking of them and not just blindly sending requests.
2) You’re reminding them where they met you.
3) You indicated that you were really listening during the conversation by bringing up a topic they discussed with you over lunch.
4) You are sharing info about an event that may be of interest to them.

This could still be someone you want to sell to at some point, so that doesn’t mean you can no longer sell through your networking efforts. What you’re doing first, though, is establishing a trustworthy connection with someone, which makes them more open to connecting with you online and in person again in the future.


Part 2: Do I Really Need a ScrumMaster for Agile Marketing?

awesomeIn my last post, I reminded you why Scrum Masters are fantastic, indispensable, and just all-around awesome.  I also acknowledged that, despite those accolades, it’s not unusual for new Scrum adoptees to have difficulty dedicating someone to the role – usually because of headcount constraints.

Naturally, one of the first questions that people have is whether they can combine the Scrum Master role with the Marketing Owner or a team member.  While it’s definitely not a best-practice, it “can” be done.  In this post, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of both options.  Again, and I can’t emphasize this enough, having a dedicated Scrum Master produces the best results.  I’m giving this advice in the same way that survival expert says:

“You should really go see a doctor about that, but if you’re stuck in the wilderness with a pocket knife, here’s what you can do.”

Now with that qualification, let’s talk about mixing the Scrum Master with the Marketing Owner.


  • Marketing Owner already has relationships with other teams/stakeholders which are helpful for removing obstacles from the team.
  • By attending/running all the meetings, including stand-ups, the Marketing Owner will definitely keep up-to-date on all issues.
  • Doesn’t take away any of the team’s capacity to get work done.


  • Hard to have the Scrum Master check on the Marketing Owner’s responsibilities to the team (backlog grooming, protect team from unnecessary distraction, prevent over-committing) when they’re the same person.
  • The team needs a neutral and independent Scrum Master during retrospectives, which can be awkward for changes aimed at the Marketing Owner when they’re the same person.
  • Takes away from the Marketing Owner’s capacity to deal with business stakeholders and all their other responsibilities with the broader organization.


The Surprising Way to Earn a REAL Marketing Education

A marketing degree from a fancy business school is great but is earning your degree really worth the stress, time, and money? Although it’s a necessary evil to get your foot in the door, the best way to learn effective marketing skills is not in the classroom from academics but out in the world through hands on experience and various resources provided by real marketers. The professors teaching at business schools are qualified academics but most of them have little to no hands on marketing experience on their resumes. The people best qualified to teach marketing are busy creating revenue. There is nothing wrong with a traditional education. That is where most careers start and having a degree definitely makes you more marketable to employers but if you want to take your marketing education to the next level it’s going to take more than a degree.

Many top marketing professionals share their knowledge by making it available online and the best part about- it’s FREE! There are several ways to obtain valuable marketing knowledge and at a fraction of the cost of attending one of the top business schools. Some of the best information can be obtained through web seminars, books by top marketing professionals, and individual courses taught by instructors that work in the field. Knowledge gained through experience is far more valuable than anything that could be taught in a traditional classroom.

ASPE offers a variety of resources and training options on marketing and topics across the board. Free web seminars, white papers, and training courses are all at your fingertips. There are so many different resources out there, some better than others, but here are some to get you started on your way to a REAL marketing education.


Web Seminar Recap- Content is King: Getting Started with AdWords Contextual Targeting

If you have dipped into the fundamentals of search and created your AdWords Search starter campaign, you’ve merely scratched the surface of what search can do for you. Contextual Targeting with AdWords allows you to extend the reach of your product or service with highly relevant targeting at the right moment.

Attendees join marketing expert, Kate Stonich, for a one hour immersion into the basics of Contextual Targeting including building a contextually targeted keyword list, auction details, and an exciting live demonstration. This web seminar was targeted to new AdWords users looking to develop their expertise and build a starter content campaign within minutes!

This web seminar, Content is King: Getting Started with AdWords Contextual Targeting, was presented by Kate Stonich on Wednesday June, 11, 2014.

Missed this seminar? Download the recording and slides here!