At the beginning of the pandemic, how many were surprised they ended up working harder?
Balancing kids at home, new ways of doing business and increased workloads can be stressful for everyone.
But Muhammad Yasin, Executive Vice President of Marketing at Perq, looked at the crisis as an opportunity to try new things.
And his team has never been so productive.
Pivoting in a crisis
Muhammad: Like many people in the SaaS space, we had a pretty robust events program.
Events were about 53% of our resource allocation from a marketing department perspective. That’s regional things, trade shows, filled events — pretty much everything event related — with the other channels backing it up.
We started getting cancellations and realized we have a enormous portion of our potential future pipeline disappearing.
It was really about saying, “Okay, this is the new reality, what are we going to do about it?”
We needed to accept it, move forward and look at the trends that were happening.
Seeing that website traffic was starting to spike as people went home, that means they’re starting to search for solutions, right?
So you can lean more into that website and the inbound side. You can lean more into display advertising. You can lean more into your social program.
You need to make sure as you start making really hard budget decisions that you don’t cut things like your SEO vendors or SEO team because they’re incredibly important right now, and they’re not something that you’re going to see an immediate return on today.
We don’t know how long this is gonna last and that is one of those long term plays that you want to make sure you can persistently stay on top of so you don’t run into a situation where that crashes.
And then from a product perspective, taking all those resources that had been put towards events and maybe reallocating to different areas.
Event managers are working on the content now. Event managers are taking over social media.
We also took a hiatus with our with our vendors that were helping with some of those content assistant pieces.
“Events are really about being great at connecting with people. And those same skills translate elsewhere.”
So take those skill sets, find out where they might be used in a different area, and then be okay with the fact that you’re going to have some long nights.
Staying agile and boosting productivity
Muhammad: We moved to agile maybe three or four years ago because we were really tired of, that scenario inside of an organization where maybe a lot of people don’t know what’s going on with the marketing team.
It’s all those guys over there playing on Facebook. Right?
And well… yeah, we are on Facebook, but we’re working. We’re trying to get you some leads!
I have an operations background as well. So it just made sense to me and my team. And it makes sense to a lot of, what I would call, process-minded, or operation-minded, marketers and creatives — people who want to develop a system to how they do their work.
And it just creates more transparency inside the team and also across the organization as well.
That report of what we’re going to do not only a circulated inside of our team, but we circulate that across every manager in the organization at the beginning of a sprint, right so everyone knows this what we’re working on. We also do capacity planning.
“A big portion of agile is, not only do you take a big task and break it up into smaller pieces, but then for each one of those pieces, you put an estimate of effort on it.”
W call those “points.” And those aren’t necessarily tied exactly to time. We’re loosely tied to time.
But it just shows this is how much effort it’s going to take to get this thing done. And then we track that against how much capacity we have as a team in the sprint.
So, we run for our team, maybe around 85 to 90 points of capacity in a sprint. And then we run you know, on a on a slow week, probably around 100ish points of actual sprint — 100 points of actual work.
Really what agile is about is: You have time boxes. You split things into small tasks. You put an estimate of effort on each one of those tasks.
And then you get the work done and you report back and you do a retrospective — religiously at the end of every sprint — to say what works, what didn’t work and how are we going to make some changes in relation to that?
A moment of clarity
Muhammad: We were weren’t running for two on two weeks spreads for the past several years.
We used to plan on Friday afternoon, wrap it up on a Thursday, two weeks down the road, and then we’d start on the Friday again.
That stopped working for us in the middle of this.
It was too — and this is gonna sound insane even say, I wouldn’t have believed I’d say this six weeks ago — it was too slow for the business and for what the business needed.
Because a week into the sprint, we were finding that everything was changing and what was needed to survive was different than what was needed a week ago.
Then we’re pivoting, which what we call volatility in the sprint.
It caused a situation where halfway into the sprint, we’d delete a bunch of stuff, push it out,kill it or pause it and then reload it with new stuff that Monday morning or Friday afternoon.
We decided we were going to go to one week sprints, which is something we had tried before and it was a disaster.
“The pace of our one-week sprints was crazy. It caused some anxiety and also some excitement. But on the flip side, there was an immense clarity of exactly what needed to get done.”
We, on Monday morning, published to the organization: These are the things that we are going to deliver to you this week.
We didn’t talk about the things we’re going to work for orthat we’re going to deliver to you next week or a month from now:
This is what you’re getting from us this week, that will help you get your job done. Period.
I’ve said it over and over again: This is the time that will make or break marketing teams.
Sure, it’s a stressful time. But if you put in the work and rise to the challenge, it’s a great opportunity.
You can do more than survive. You can thrive.
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