Adventures In Agile Marketing: The Editorial Calendar

By: Resalin Gurka | Apr 04, 2016 |  Agile Marketing,  Agile Tools,  Article

Agile Marketing plannerWhen was the last time that your editorial calendar got a makeover? As a marketer before Agile (BA), my editorial calendar was pretty standard: title, info, status, and dates. It was the piece of data that, I now know, was a very waterfall way of creating content. Before Agile, I never realized how much risk was involved with every blog post that went out the door.

Agile Marketing vs. Regular Ol’ Marketing

Agile marketing took root from Agile Methodology, an approach to building software that followed the clarion call of individuals and interactions, customer collaboration, responding to change, and working software as the true measurement of progress. Agile Marketing has similar values:

  1. Responding to change over following a plan
  2. Rapid iterations over Big-Bang campaigns
  3. Testing and data over opinions and conventions
  4. Numerous small experiments over a few large bets
  5. Individuals and interactions over target markets
  6. Collaboration over silos and hierarchy

Like Agile Software Development, Agile Marketing has a mindset geared towards communication, continuous improvement, gathering feedback, and collaboration. Instead of placing a big bet by creating a giant strategy set to execute over a long period of time, Agile marketers favor short campaigns that allow them to gather intel to improve the next campaign. An Agile marketing campaign is the equivalent of a sprint.

For example, I have an idea for a white paper that I am pretty sure will resonate with my audience. One way to be more Agile is to test the topic with a smaller investment like a blog post. If the blog post flops, I change direction; if it’s a hit, then I proceed.

The Agile Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar keeps a team organized by providing visibility into the work that is being and will be done. They are absolutely necessary if you have more than one person on your team. Here are snapshots of my editorial calendars over the years.

Traditional Editorial Calendar

Agile Editorial Calendar V1

Agile Editorial Calendar V2


What Makes The Agile Editorial Calendar “Agile”

The first version (V1) of my Agile editorial calendar was similar to the traditional one. There was a column for the title, audience/target person, keywords, and due dates for each phase. The new additions were columns for the user story and acceptance criteria. So far, my adventure in user story and acceptance criteria land has stuck. In addition to the blogging, I include user stories and acceptance criteria for emails, infographics, and a majority of my marketing efforts. It keeps me focused on my audience and has even improved my writing.

We begin refining the Agile editorial calendar with the second iteration (V2). Because the user story includes the target audience, I removed that column to streamline. The biggest change between V1 and V2 is the status column. Instead of three rows with due dates, I decided to remove the due date and instead use those rows to signal with the color orange where the post is in the production process, sort of like a Kanban board. I still have a place to indicate the target publishing date, but as far as the other due dates, I removed them after realizing that they weren’t necessary as long as I hit the last one. I was documenting for the sake of documentation, a very un-Agile approach.

Another modification – a reflection of my new writing process – is to revise after review. I used to do a line edit before the peer review. However, I have swung and missed enough times to know that I don’t always get it right. Why put in the effort to perfect a piece if there are big flaws–informational or structural–that are wrong? The switch allows me to better “respond to change over following a plan,” the first principle of Agile marketing.

My journey as both a marketer, an Agilist, and an Agile marketer continues. I’m excited to see where it takes me and how it will make me better at these aspects of my professional life. If there are any marketers, Agile or otherwise, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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