Putting your ideas out there can be scary, especially when you’re discussing a complex –and at times divisive- topic. But, that’s what I’m trying to do with a book entitled, “The New Marketing Manifesto – Marketing Modernization In An Agile World”. I’m giving up nights and weekends to this project because books were instrumental in my own development as a marketer. In fact, I’m not “officially” educated as marketer. I don’t have a marketing degree or even an MBA. What I have –besides a full bookshelf- is real life experience as an entrepreneur, marketing consultant, and marketing leader. As such, I’ve probably touched more aspects of marketing than most marketers. It turns out that this kind of experience is quite relevant in a rapidly evolving marketing industry. The fact is that very few marketing students are learning about how to use crowd-funding sites to validate product concepts and messaging, or how to manage and leverage advocate communities with social platforms. While marketing programs can certainly nail fundamentals, I’d argue that things are moving too fast for most curriculums to keep pace today.
My book offers what might appear –at first- to be a somewhat controversial thesis, namely that what’s driving change in the marketer’s world is coming from an unexpected place, development. In fact, the title of this book, The New Marketing Manifesto, refers to the Agile Manifesto – a declaration by a group of influential developers who have effectively revolutionized the way that software development is done. And it turns out that their approach is so powerful that it’s now influencing the rest of the business. The biggest impact will be in the marketing organization because chief marketing officers are now managing as much technology as chief technology officers. What’s more, chief marketing officers need to adjust the way that marketing is done to reflect changes in development.
My thesis implies that marketers are going to continue to experience a lot of change in the coming years. Change –like writing a book- is scary. The marketing technology industry is going through a tremendous cycle of innovation. New marketing technologies have provided unprecedented business value based on deeper insights into customer behavior, but the speed and volume of innovation has also spawned new problems: data fragmentation, platform/product overlap, integration overhead, as well as challenges to traditional organizational norms and management structures.
But I also want to acknowledge strategies for mitigating risk and the scariness of change because that’s precisely what Agile is good for. Agile is considered an “adaptive” approach because it’s designed to accept and respond to change. Agile is an alternative to “predictive” methods like Waterfall that are designed for situations that are well understood and … well, predictable (e.g. not what we’re facing as marketers today). So I’ve chosen to write my book in an Agile fashion. That means, that I started with a prototype of the book (aka a very rough draft or sketch) which I shared with a small group of marketers, most of whom were focused on a specific chapter or topic. I got a TON of immediate feedback, which I used to iterate on each chapter for a couple of months till I had version 2 of the book. I then took that version and started working with a professional editor who looked at the book more holistically and informed me that I was about to have a lot less time in my evening and weekends to play. Once I’m done working with her I’ll have version 3.
Following this, I plan to release the book to a larger group of marketers for feedback. And, in parallel, I’ve started publishing blog posts and articles that test the content with an even broader market (e.g. a Forbes piece How Customer-Centric Tech Is Revolutionizing C-Suite Relationships). With this round of feedback I hope to get to version 3. Along the way I’ve had lots of little failures and successes that are mitigating the risk of a BIG failure. The book has also gone in directions that I could not have initially anticipated. In fact, that last part of the book did not come into focus until just recently.
When I finally get to the stage of publishing the book I hope to have a crowd of folks who have contributed to it’s success and who will help advocate for it upon release. If I’ve successfully incorporated their feedback they will have a sense of ownership in the project.
Even with all this input, reflection, and iteration there are bold statements in this book that will likely be wrong. But to make a book like this compelling you have to be willing to make some bold claims and to be wrong. So you can’t eliminate risk entirely. Then again, being wrong generally helps identify what’s right to include in the next iteration. Thus one of the principles of the Agile Marketing Manifesto reads “Don’t be afraid to fail; just don’t fail the same way twice”.
If you’re interested in participating in the “beta” release of the book please shoot me a note on twitter @rsmartly.