Agile Marketing: Your 8-Step Super Bowl Game Plan

19 JAN | Agile Marketing: Your 8-Step Super Bowl Game Plan.

By Brian Rivera, MBA, PMI-ACP, CSM, MPM, Afterburner Executive Consultant

This article first appeared on LinkedIn on Jan. 19, 2015


This year’s Super Bowl match-up is yet another chance for old school to be schooled by new knowledge. In less than two weeks we will know if a legendary heavyweight is able to capture Sunday’s and Monday’s social media blitz with a meticulously planned and extraordinarily expensive 60 second masterpiece. Or will an adaptable newcomer have another “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” moment?

The Super Bowl match-up I am talking about is not the one between the legendary Tom Brady and the agile newcomer Russell Wilson. The real Super Bowl match-up is between old school and new Agile Marketers. The winner(s) will be the ones who maximize marketing results through maximizing the work not done (read that again). And here is the kicker: every organization is able to participate in this this game. You want to play?


A Simple, Scalable Eight-Step Planning Process to get Your Organization in the Agile Marketing Game.

1. Pick your players. Establish one or several cross-functional teams of 4-9 people from across your organization. Cognitive diversity is critical so do not pick all veterans from your marketing department. Bring in some rookies as they have a tendency to outperform veterans in knowledge work [1]. After you form your team, assign an Ace, a self-silencing leader who leads the team through the next seven steps of planning using a disciplined collaboration approach intended to mitigate the failures of groups.


2. Establish Marketing Objectives or Intent. Make sure your team members are involved in creating clear, measurable, and achievable objectives and ensure your organization’s sponsor, CMO or CEO, sign-off on those objectives. You are doing this to empower your team and to allow them to make decisions when faced with an ambiguous situation—Agile Marketing is full of ambiguity. Here is an example of Super Bowl Agile Marketing Objective: Increase company website traffic by 5000 unique visitors by 6:00 pm Tuesday, February 3. Notice the objective does not mention anything about social media. It doesn’t even mention anything about the Super Bowl. Let the team figure out how to achieve the objective.


3. Identify the Threats. What are those threats or risks, internal or external, which stand in the way of your team achieving this objective? Have your Ace lead the team(s) through a Teamstorming℠ exercise using Wide-band Delphi, Crawford slip method, or a liberating structure to identify those threats. You do not need to spend more than five-to-ten minutes doing this. Once you have identified those threats, have the team vote on the top four or five. Examples of threats are company policies that conflict with intent and a lengthy marketing approval process. Also, identify those threats that you cannot control (these are the external threats). Move on.


4. Identify Resources. What are the resources or investments you have that can help you achieve the objective and overcome the threats? In this step your team will invariably identify resources such as Twitter, your company’s website, LinkedIn, Facebook, employees attending the game, a competitor who has a Super Bowl add, a sponsor who can shorten the marketing approval process, etc. Have your team vote on the top four or five resources but do not discard the others. The four or five you pick will be your Agile Marketing critical leverage points. Move on.


5. Identify Lessons Learned. Is this your first time? What have others done? Oreo, Arby’s, BMW, and others have had great success with Agile Marketing. What can you learn from their success or failures? Has anyone on the team been part of an Agile Marketing team before (remember those rookies on your team)? What have they experienced outside of your company? Feed these Lessons Learned into your plan.


6. Identify a Course of Action. This is more than likely going to be a reactive game day activity but it can and should be rehearsed the week before during the Pro Bowl or any other event. With your objective, top threats and resources, and lessons learned, build an Agile Marketing response to the simulated or actual event around the Pro Bowl or any other event. If you have the luxury of having more than one team, you should have several courses of action to pull ideas from. If not, you may be able to split your 4-9 person teams into teams of 2.


7. Red Team. Have people who are familiar with your company’s products or services and who had nothing to do with building the Agile Marketing Course of Action ask questions in the form of “Did you consider…?” The Agile Marketing teams’ response should be a simple “thank you.” Take the Red Team feedback and make sure it is in the plan.


8. Build a Contingency Plan. Remember that uncontrollable threat? This is where you build a plan to address it. Are you living in the Rocky Mountains where weather can shut down your team from being collocated Feb 1-3? What is your plan to overcome this scenario? What if your course of action backfires? How are you going to respond? What is your contingency plan if you fail miserably?


Some quick notes.

Steps 1-5 should be completed before the Super Bowl. On game day, your team should understand your organizations’ Agile Marketing objective, know the threats, and be prepared to move on those critical leverage points from steps 4 and 5 should the opportunity present itself during the Super Bowl. The key to Agile Marketing is preparation. You are preparing your Agile Marketing Team to rapidly develop agile marketing content in response to global events.

The next steps are to huddle-up and brief the course of action, execute flawlessly, and debrief. Agile Marketing is an inspect and adapt process.


Happy Super Bowl Agile Marketing!

Brian “Ponch” Rivera is a recovering Naval Aviator and current Afterburner, Inc. Enterprise Agile Coach and Executive Consultant who specializes in accelerating organizational agility with the simple tools and pattern libraries found in Afterburner’s Flawless Execution℠ Model." Email for additional information.

The eight steps found in the Agile Marketing game plan above follow Afterburner's Six Steps to Mission Planning.

Teamstorming, Six Steps to Mission Planning, Afterburner, Plan-Brief-Execute-Debrief-Win, and Flawless Execution are registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and are owned by Afterburner, Inc.

[1] Liz Wiseman. Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work. (New York, Harper Business, 2014)

[2] Cass R. Sunstein. Wiser: Getting Beyond Groupthink to Make Groups Smarter. (Harvard Business Review Press, 2014)