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Tactical Metrics in Your Agile Marketing Backlog

In my last post about your Marketing Backlog, I talked about how to organize your backlog and add metrics so it’s easy to implement strategic marketing decisions about how you invest your time and budget.  Hopefully you found the Coca-Cola 2020 marketing strategy with their 70/20/10 investment split to be thought-provoking.  Even more so, I hope that your marketing organization has a well-defined strategy.

Once a marketing strategy has been set, you have to do the heavy-lifting of actually executing that strategy.  This brings us into the realm of marketing tactics.  And when I refer to tactical marketing activities, I’m referring to stuff that has a relatively low cost in time and money to change, and typically for a short-term objective, e.g. drive up sales this quarter.  And if you’re familiar with the Agile Marketing Manifesto, you know that Agile Marketing emphasizes the value of learning from tactical campaigns over many short iterations using real metrics.  So let’s get into an example of what those metrics may be. And we’ll start with a very familiar tactic – events.

Oddly enough, events (aka trade shows, conferences, etc.) are marketing tactics that some Agile Marketers shy away from.  Many people think because events are typically managed by a dedicated marketing team member (every company I’ve been at has an events specialist) they events should not be part of their marketing backlog.  On the contrary, events ultimately pull in a lot of marketing team members, especially to work at the event.  So here’s a quick tip – include events in your backlog and the marketing owner can treat the events specialist as a stakeholder or as a contractor-like resource for the sprints that actually involve work for events.

Unless you work for a company that loves going to events just to get tchotchkes (you know you can just mail-order your own, right?) and drink Bud Light while standing in a convention center wearing matching polo shirts, you probably track at least these two metrics:

  • Event cost
  • Business generated

Event cost is pretty straight-forward: how much you had to spend for the booth space, signage, sponsorship, tchotchkes, an iPad 1/2/3/4/mini to give away, etc.

If you track the event in your backlog and then manage the execution in your sprints, it’s pretty straight-forward to think of how to keep track of the cost metric:

  • For each event item in the marketing backlog and sprint backlog, annotate the budget allocated for that item.
  • As event work is executed, annotate the backlog item with the actual cost.

For example, you have a task in your sprint backlog to get a booth space at the event.  The backlog item notes that there’s a budget of $5,000 for the booth space.  During the current sprint, a team member took care of that task and notes that the actual cost was $4,500 – after all, everything related to events typically comes in under budget *cough*.

Now your event specialist probably has a big project spreadsheet where he’s tracking all these tasks and the budget as well, but it’s handy to have that information in the backlog where it’s in front of your team as they’re working.  And rather than chase everyone down for updates or try to micromanage it all, your event specialist can just look at your scrum board to see what’s been spent for what, when and by who.

Business generated may be the value of deals actually initiated from the event or will at least be the list of qualified leads the event generated – you may have to wait a couple of sales cycles before determining the value of deals that came about.

Every well-run event I’ve worked has a daily huddle at the booth where we talk about how we’re doing, and then we talk about how to improve for that day.  Actually sounds pretty Agile!  To make it even more in the vein of Agile Marketing, in addition to the total business generated each day, think about tracking these metrics as well:

  • Total number of booth visitors (many events let you scan badges to track this)
  • Which product demos were given and how many times?
  • Which pieces of collateral were most popular?  Don’t have to count each piece necessarily, but you’ll notice which ones run out first.
  • What questions or comments came up most frequently?
  • What impression does your booth make on attendees?

That last one seems the oddest because you probably don’t track that one today.  It’s actually pretty easy to do – just take a literally one minute of an attendees time to ask them “what do you think about our booth?”  It’s an open-ended question that may lead to a follow-up question or two, and after you’ve asked a dozen people, you’ll notice if there’s any common responses – that’s what you want to note and track.

What good does it do to track these metrics?  The cost ones are pretty obvious – you’ve got to work with a budget.  The other ones are also obvious if you think of an event like you would think of a content marketing campaign – you’re measuring the effectiveness of the “content” at your booth.  And if you track those same things at each event, you can learn, adapt and improve what your results.

Want to be even more Agile Marketing-oriented about how you manage events?  Consider trying out new “content” at a few less-expensive local or regional events before your big annual industry event.  Maybe you’ll even discover that the smaller events give you a better return than the big annual trek to Vegas you’ve done for the last 10 years.

Next time, we’ll look at some metrics for another type of marketing tactic – a new product campaign.  In the meantime, what smaller events would you go to if you wanted to experiment with new marketing ideas?  And would it be helpful to finally put event-related work into the same framework you use to manage all your other marketing activities?

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