Book – Hacking Marketing

hacking.pngThe book shows parallels in recent metamorphosis of marketing discipline and transformations that happened in software development.  Learning from discoveries of software development industry can be very helpful as modern marketing is based on some kind of software or, at least, reaches its audience through some kind of software.

“Modern marketing management has a lot in common with software development management.”  If software industry found better methodologies to manage its needs, marketing can also be better managed using similar principles.

We are no longer engage into “digital marketing,” but rather marketing in a digital world.

Digital marketing is similar to channel marketing because the message is passing through layers of software, which can influence the interaction. We also do not have full control over the “digital channel.”

“Shadow marketing” is similar to Shadow IT; it defined as divergence from tightly scripted messaging and brand standards.

As agile development gained popularity, the same principles can be applied to marketing.

Relevant Original Agile Manifesto Values

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Proposed Agile Marketing Manifesto Values

  • Many small experiments over a few large bets
  • Testing and data over opinions and conventions
  • Intimate customer tribes over impersonal mass markets
  • Engagement and transparency over official posturing

Marketing Kanban Board
(The board has five categories, typical for marketing. Test is considered A/B test, or any other marketing test, rather than QA.)


Additional granularity for marketing Kanban board, allowing to see clearly “push” and
“pull” difference in the process.


“Use your Kanban board as a management tool, not wall art”  🙂

Kanban board for multiple programs (though different teams should have different boards).


Stories (from marketing perspective):

As a [buyer’s role], I would like [content or experience] so that [benefit/reason why].

As a mid-funnel prospect, I would like a pricing guide or interactive pricing calculator so that we can determine whether your solution will fit in our budget.

Application of “jobs to be done” approach to the content marketing: 

What is the underlying “job” that the buyer wants to “hire” that content or experience to do?

Internal or “staff” stories:

As an [internal role], I would like [capability, data, etc.] so that [benefit/reason why].

As a marketing manager, I would like A/B testing software on our website so that I can experiment with different promotions on our home page.

Interesting difference between typical scrum and its marketing version: instead of the product owner and scrum muster, the marketing owner (typically the supervisor of the team) creates stories and manages the process.  The supervisor needs to be careful to allow collaboration and team initiative to thrive despite the role as a manager of the team.

Interesting: modern marketers would be better off thinking about their roles as “product managers” more than marketing managers.

mvp.pngMinimum Viable Product criteria from marketing perspective:

  • What marketing hypothesis does this MVP test?
  • What metric(s) will serve as evidence of its success?
  • What value does this MVP offer its audience?
  • Does the quality of the MVP reflect our brand?

Principles of “Big Testing:”

  • A willingness to test big ideas (unique approaches designed to overcome “local maximum” issue)
  • A “big tent” that encourages widespread testing across the company
  • An executive commitment to testing that makes it a big deal

a-b.PNG“For example, instead of just testing variations of a landing page that offers an e-book, we might test that concept against two very different alternatives: a landing page that promotes a webinar on the same material and an interactive assessment tool that lets participants evaluate their own readiness and suitability for a relevant solution.”

“One gauge of a  big idea is to ask this question: if the experiment  succeeds or fails, what will I have learned about my audience in the process? If there is an opportunity for the outcome to teach us something meaningful about our market that we can leverage moving forward – that makes the idea big.”

Exploration vs. Scalability


Interesting point – innovation and scalability need to be managed differently. 

“Essentially, we divide marketing into two realms; the edge of our organization, where innovations emerge, and the core of our business, where reliable operations run at scale.”

Innovation projects allow to bend the rules (as long as brand requirements are satisfied), administrative overhead is kept to a minimum, few formal processes or documentation requirements exists.  There is no need to institutionalize ideas that have low probability to become standard in the organization.

Core operations are managed differently, to allow maximum operational efficiency and optimization: repeatable campaign execution, dependable operations, well-defined and documented processes; knowledge is institutionalized with more formal training.

Innovation and Core are not necessarily separate teams.  Ideally, every team in marketing should have a mix of efforts they are pursuing in both realms. Typically, 70% core, and 30% exploration.

The dual approach is partially inspired by the concept of “bimodal IT,” also known as two-speed IT.  “The practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery, one focused on stability and the other on agility.  Mode 1 is traditional and sequential, emphasizing safety and accuracy.  Mode 2 is exploratory and mom-linear, emphasizing agility and speed.”

Technology adoptionmartecs_law_600px.jpg

Approach to management of new technology: do fewer things, and do them well.

  • choose purposefully which innovations to adopt, and avoid taking on too many at once
  • don’t overengineer the innovations that you do adopt
  • intentionally sunset the outdated elements of your portfolio

over-complicated.PNGInteresting – the book discusses excessive complexity and the need to avoid it.  In Search of Excellence discussed the same topic over 30 years ago…  It does not look like the business community learned to avoid complexity over last 30 years; worse yet, in my opinion, now we have an excuse – complex technology!  If humans were over-complicating everything around more simple technology, do we have any hope now?  Hopefully, the complex technology will help us to simplify, as, at one point, our desire to over-complicate, coupled with complex technology, will create complexity that could not technically work.  🙂

Very good point on hiring and retaining marketing talent.  The differentiating factor will be not salaries and perks (general hygiene factors), but the opportunity to do great work.

“The companies that are best able to stir the minds and souls of the marketers they seek – and give them powerful organizational platforms on which to achieve great things – will dominate the talent war of modern marketing.”

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