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Roland Smart - VP of Marketing at Pantheon 

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Roland Smart is the VP of Marketing at Pantheon - a website operations platform for Drupal and Wordpress. Prior to his current role, Roland worked at Oracle, and he is also a Marketing Agility Alliance Founder. 


Show notes

Part 1

Roland’s Background and Pantheon (02:08)

Pantheon is a website operations platform. I discovered it when I was running some very large scale web projects for Oracle. When I learned about Pantheon and their tools, I immediately had an interest in the company.

I am very passionate about applying agile software development practices in the marketer's world. I got so passionate about this topic that I wrote a book about it called the Agile Marketer.

It also made me start a podcast called the Marketing Agility podcast.

Definition of Agile (05:16)

Agile really comes out of the software development world. It is not new and actually, there is something known as the Agile Manifesto which was written 17 years ago.

It's important to understand that by the time that Agile Manifesto was written, a lot of developers had already been using or developing the concept.

Agile vs. Lean (07:17)

Agile comes out of the software development world and the Lean comes from the manufacturing world. They were developed around the same time.

Agile In Marketing (13:27)

The earliest and most obvious place that we saw an agile approach being implemented in the marketing was in the digital advertising space. For us, the next logical step was to apply agile to the content that we create. We shifted away from 80% of our energy going towards developing new content and 20% of our energy being on iterating on existing content.

Part 2

The Landscape of Marketing And Agile Technologies (02:10)

In the last five to ten years, a robust ecosystem has been developing around agile marketing. There's just a significant number of technologies that have come to marketing. An example of such a general purpose tool is Asana.

There are also more purpose-built tools to help teams drive agility into specific disciplines like managing their websites.

Some of the biggest consultancies are extending their digital transformation practices to include agile transformation.

Building An Agile Transformation (04:36)

It depends on what kind of company you are. For smaller companies, it's easier to run a pilot and then organically grow. They should absolutely invest in certification and training. It will help them avoid pitfalls.

For larger companies, I think there is usually a requirement that consulting needs to come in to do executive education.

Implementing An Agile Approach Across a Large Organization (06:18)

Getting executive buy-in is absolutely critical and there are some very significant mindset changes that leaders of the marketing function need to go through. I think it also really helps to have an agile transformation leader within the company.

Executive buy-in is the thing that has the single biggest influence on the success of broader agile transformation.

Agile also supports putting small things out into the market and letting customers tell whether that was the right or wrong move. The ability to quickly address their feedback is the thing that drives the strongest loyalty and connection with the brand.

Part 3

Figuring Out What Articles To Write (02:15)

Applying agile to content marketing means shifting from a mindset where you're always producing new content. The majority of your time should be spent on iterating on existing content.

Based on data about how people were engaging with that content, you can update it and make it more performant. If you keep that URL over time, you can aggregate more inbound links.

The Agile Way To Figure Out The Area Of Focus (08:33)

Start with something that is really lightweight like short blog posts. Check to see whether that content resonates with your audience or not.

Starting With An Agile (12:08)

Agile talks a lot about the idea of just building a backlog of the content that you think you need. You are going to catalog your content by the content grid, put it in the backlog, and then you're going to start working on getting the MVP version of those pieces of content on the market.

You're going to look at how they perform and you're going to prioritize iteration on those pieces of content that you've deployed.

Part 4

WebOps Definition (02:17)

DevOps is just short for developer operations. The goal is just to reduce as much friction you possibly can from the process of developing software.

It often means structuring processes so that they are regular and stable. It also means applying automation.

When you think about DevOps, there are many different sorts of software development context. You could be doing backend development or mobile development. In each of those cases, your Dev Ops configuration is going to look a little bit different.

What we have done at Pantheon, we have built a version of DevOps that is specific web teams.

Practical Applications of WebOps (10:00)

WebOps has been something that enabled the ACL to respond quickly to news events and raise a lot of money around the specific issue.

Another example - without a WebOps managing and customizing a site with more than thousands of individual pages would be nearly impossible to do.

With the WebOps the underlying platform just automatically flexes and scales to meet the need.

Other Tips (15:58)

When you're choosing a WebOps platform, you need to think really carefully about the CMS that you're going to use. At Pantheon, we're focused exclusively on Drupal and Wordpress.

Part 5

Building a MarTech Stack That Is Agile (02:37)

A good place to start is to break up work into the smallest possible pieces that you can. Ask what's the smallest minimum viable product you can build and deploy to validate that you're heading in the right direction.

That also applies to the way you structure your teams. Agile says small cross-functional teams are more efficient and innovative.

You should also apply this idea to your marketing stack.

Switching out a micro-service is obviously much easier than switching a broader application.

Remember, agile is a philosophy. It's about small tests and iteration, whether that is with your marketing strategies, team or marketing stack.

Taking small bites is at the core of this strategy.

Last Words (17:24)

If you are heading over to the MarTech conference, we will have a booth there. You are more than welcome to visit us! We would love to talk to you.

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