Project Management

Customers are human. They are complex and changeable and yearn to feel valued and understood. As marketers, we tend to focus exclusively on demographic characteristics to lump them into groups to target. But the wants, needs, interests and values of a customer cannot be determined...

A clear understanding of your target audience is essential to marketing success. It should shape everything from your brand’s tone and messaging to your content style and distribution. And knowing your audience isn’t as simple as having a typical customer in mind. True depth of...

Narratives compel us. They’re familiar. They’re memorable (22 times more memorable than facts, according to one psychologist). So it’s no wonder that in an era of constant digital sharing and connection, companies who master brand storytelling are achieving – and maintaining – a global following....

To be a functioning professional in the digital e-commerce environment it’s important to be as present and multi-functional as possible. Mobile apps offer the perfect opportunity for business owners to connect with their target audiences. APIs or Application Programming Interfaces are what allows one piece of software to share information with another. Although invisible to the user almost everyone has interacted with and most likely benefited from an API. APIs give businesses the ability to embed maps, process payments and run different apps in conjunction with each other. Using APIs with some or all of the following applications can help better integrate your business, improve customer interactions and streamline your business operations.

Dr. Mik Kersten, CEO of Tasktop, recently published a book titled Project to Product: How to Survive and Thrive in the Age of Digital Disruption with the Flow Framework. In his book Dr. Kersten discusses The Flow Framework - a new approach for connecting the business to technology, which bridges the gap between business strategy and technology delivery. Dr. Kersten discusses three vital epiphanies he had that revolutionized how he thinks about software delivery. In this excerpt, he discusses these epiphanies and how his revised angle of attack benefited his business.

You manage a remote team and heard about how Agile increased productivity in the software industry. You've seen the fruits an Agile approach and are wondering how to make the magic happen with a remote team. Is it even possible? You bet it is! At DistantJob, we use it in all our teams, from recruiting to marketing. Agile enables our lean teams to tackle massive undertakings quickly. Not convinced? We've put together a free ebook with a primer to Agile as a remote solution and several case studies. It's a fast read, so grab it if you're not familiar with Agile in general. Our remote teams do Agile using a “Scrumban” method. "Scrumban" means that we take a bit from two popular Agile frameworks, “Scrum” and “Kanban.” Whoa, weird names already? Don't worry -  we're going to keep this light on theory and heavy on practical stuff.

It all starts with the daily standup

A daily meeting with all hands on deck - that's the heartbeat of our Agile process. Sounds weird for a remote company, right? After all, any of our teams might have people spread across five different time zones! But there is no denying the benefits of everyone knowing what everyone else is up to on any given day. The stand-up helps the team bond across a shared purpose.  This meeting helps everyone understand that they're not working in solitude. They're not waiting for, or handing off, work to faceless entities on the other side of the computer. The daily standup also helps people understand how their work impacts the rest of the team. Our daily stand-ups follow a simple formula. Each person tells the team:

I came out of the technology industry into marketing. One thing that struck me immediately was the lack of planning that goes on in marketing and communications. In software, if we don't plan everything down to the nth degree we’ll be lost. Not so with marketing plans. Some directions are set but the smaller the company, the less planning takes place. Several of my clients (most of them mid-sized) have even admitted they hate marketing plans altogether.  And yet they still scratch their head when marketing fails to deliver what they need.

The point is that people build marketing plans that don’t work.

Over the years I've noticed six reasons why we hate marketing plans. Here some ways to get around those obstacles to create plans that are actionable, organic and will work.
  1. The marketing plans are not actionable. I’ve seen tons of very well-written plans that were the equivalent of being “oblique without being obtrusive.” In other words, they sounded great and didn't mean anything - there was no way to implement anything. For an actionable plan, you need to create tangible strategies and tactics, as well as timelines. Goals must be defined in a measurable sense with action clearly noted to achieve those goals. Action is the key word here.
  2. You’re afraid of setting goals. For many entrepreneurs and mid-sized companies there’s a fear of setting measurable goals. On one hand, people are afraid they may not meet goals and this could look bad for a marketer. On the other, usually the entrepreneur, there is fear that you might set the goal too low and miss some great revenue because your sales team feels they don’t need to do anything more. If you’re not sure, set quarterly goals and adjust as you go, rather than annual goals. Or place some kind of incentive for percentage over goal. You’ll get better at it as you do it.
  3. The marketing plan is written too early. I’m a big fan of writing marketing plans in January. This is because so many deals get put on hold until after the holidays. If you know the base of business from which you’re starting in the new year, you’ll create a much better plan all around. There’s just too much in the air typically in December, or November for that matter, to write a good plan.
  4. Writing the plan is an agony. Marcomm plans for my clients are usually about two pages long. They don’t take long to create because they identify the goals, strategies, tactics and measurements. If you’re still defining your product or your audience, it’s not time to develop a plan. By the way, defining your audience and target customers is an excellent activity to accomplish in the fall.