There’s no denying it: modern marketing is incredibly hard work. The demands on marketers to continuously produce quality marketing output never ease as businesses struggle to meet the needs of savvy customers in an age of relentless disruptions. No more the Mad Men, we are expected to execute across multiple marketing channels and master every new digital marketing technology or platform flogged by marketing technology companies.
Unfortunately, however, today’s corporate work management practices are ill-equipped to deal with the always-on digital reality that marketers are dealing with. While marketers are constantly given access to new technology tools and provided with enough digital skills training to meet customers’ demands in real-time, tragically, most of our existing work management practices originated more than 100 years ago in Frederick Winslow Taylor’s steel factories. Annual marketing strategy planning, traditional campaign planning, bucketed budgets, constant handoffs from one department to another and lack of autonomy are some legacy management practices that simply do not gel with today’s fast moving reality.
Marketers Are Suffering
Despite all the tools and training, very little effort is done in helping marketers manage change and adapt to their new digital-heavy workflows and responsibilities. What happens next is not foreign to a lot of marketers out there: chaos on the marketing floor, lack of visiblity on tasks-in-progress, confusion due to a lack of direction or alignment, project delays due to constant handoffs between teams in marketing, waiting around for others to finish up their bits, waiting around for approvals, long working hours, wasted and work, too much coffee etc. etc. In the meantime, that prospective customer is long gone.
Left unchecked, this can result in marketing teams checking out, increasing tension, plummeting morale and a general disdain about turning up for work.
A transformative corporate mindset change is overdue and sorely needed. There must be better ways of working.
Erosion of Marketers’ Health
This fast-paced work life and increasing expectations can take its toll. In some cases with very extreme outcomes. In our fast growing Asia Pacific region, agency marketers’ suicides have happened in China, Indonesia and Japan, prompting Dentsu to introduce company-wide work reforms to encourage healthier work practices. Campaign Asia, in its ‘Overwork in Adland’ survey, reported that 50% of agency marketers admitted to health issues as a result of overwork, increased stress and the “always on” culture prevalent in the marketing world. We should assume, or in fact admit, that brand marketing clients are indirectly guilty for this state of affairs as they demand output and performance from their agency counterparts.
Quoting from this Marketing Interactive article, Ngee Khee Jin, founder of ad agency Wild Advertising & Marketing, said “Some individuals really don’t know when to stop and will literally work themselves to death…Sadly, that is sometimes the Singaporean work ethic, which is acquired from years of schooling.” Ngee Khee recommends that responsible supervisors be observant of employees’ overworking tendencies and intervene when necessary.
In the corporate world, the numbers on workers’ health are striking. AIA’s research on workplace vitality showed that, on average, Asian managers and professionals work 12 hours per week more than their UK counterparts. However, while a lot of “productivity” is happening in Asian offices on an annual basis, a chunk of those time (71 days in Hong Kong, 66 days in Malaysia and 54 days in Singapore) were lost to either absenteeism or presenteeism (turning up to work but not productive). Christian van Stolk, home affairs and social policy research head at Rand Europe, says it very starkly: “…people are working very hard but to no effect, while doing harm to themselves.“ I call it “unmotivated corporate zombies” subjected to unnecessary, wasteful and meaningless work.
While being mindful of employees’ work rate is beneficial, are we actually doing enough to protect and improve the health and morale of marketers in the long run?
There must be a way to make work better for marketers.
The Mission: #makeworkgreatagain
I initially founded Elisan Partners with a clear mission: to help professionals in organisations communicate better so that teamwork will improve, silos are nuked and problems can be solved easily with minimal friction and aggression. LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is the approach that I settled on to help in our mission and have since been practising by bringing serious play to corporate and institutional clients. Somehow, I still felt incomplete.
As a practising digital marketing trainer, I have had plenty of opportunities to meet with and train aspiring digital marketers or experienced marketers looking to up their digital street cred. I soon realised all is still not well in the world of corporate marketing (why did I think otherwise, I only left corporate life less than 2 years ago!) and, in fact, it feels like it has gotten worse. Marketers are drowning!
As they say, the world has a way in leading you down deep rabbit holes. A chance exposure to Agile Marketing happened because a group of senior marketers with a global health insurance client wanted to “play with some LEGO and learn the Agile mindset”. While I have been exposed to Agile, Scrum and Lean concepts in my corporate years with software technology companies, I never studied the management philosophies behind these practices in depth as I always thought “it’s an IT and software thing”. How wrong I was, but here’s your chance not to make the same mistake.
Today that rabbit hole has quickly led Elisan Partners to establish itself as an ICAgile Member Organisation. We are now accredited to offer the first Certified Professional in Agile Marketing education in Asia Pacific and the only program available elsewhere outside of North America. I am also proud to be the first, and currently only, ICAgile Authorised Instructor in Asia Pacific approved to deliver this Agile Marketing certification training.
I am all excited and raring to go to deliver the magic of better work (it’s that simple, really).
So what is this “Agile Marketing education”?
I will not explain in depth on what Agile Marketing is. However, to summarise, it is a set of management values, principles, methodologies and frameworks that originated from the world of software development. Led by a group of prominent software development thinkers and practitioners, the Agile Manifesto was born in 1999 and have since gained prominence outside the software development world.
Today, traditional large global organisations, such as Barclays, Microsoft, ING, Ericsson and ANZ, have disrupted their entire business operations to develop the Agile mindset and adopt Agile management and work practices. These giants believe this step forward is a must for them to remain relevant and competitive in today’s VUCA world.
Check out this fascinating video on how very old Dutch bank, ING, has adopted Agile for their HQ business operations by destroying its entire existing operating structure:
Marketing is not the only non-IT business function where Agile training courses have been developed and delivered. There are general Business Agility, Agile Talent and Agile Leadership courses that are already being offered.
Why Get Trained and Certified on Agile Marketing
While there are hundreds of marketing courses out there that focus on digital marketing, digital advertising, social media, content marketing and data analytics, there is, surprisingly, a severe lack of modern marketing management courses. Of course, there are MBA-level “strategic marketing management” courses in universities that you can attend. However, none of these teaches you on how to manage people better, optimise work for an uncertain and disruptive environment and create healthy and inspired employees (I know because, ahem, I completed an MBA).
Also, remember, modern marketing, with its plethora of digital marketing technologies, is very much like software development, not steel factories. Traditional marketing management just won’t cut it.
But more importantly, attending an accredited Agile Marketing training is an opportunity to properly learn and understand Agile Marketing fundamentals. ICAgile is the world’s largest accreditation and certification body for Agile education. Elisan Partners’ course content has been developed to ensure it meets the Agile Marketing learning outcomes that were defined by ICAgile and have been vetted through a strict course and instructor accreditation process. It’s quality education, folks.
Also, it’s an important opportunity for all of us marketers to get level on the same page on what it means to be Agile. For sure, “Being Agile” does not mean producing work faster and cheaper or trying out the latest in digital marketing technology. By removing misconceptions about Agile Marketing and fully understanding Agile Marketing management philosophies and practices, it will, and I’m positive on this, help us to develop healthier and better marketers in our teams and nurture future marketing leaders who will #makeworkgreatagain for their future teams.
Today we go to the trade marketing media with the simple gospel of Agile Marketing education and the desire to help marketers work better and be healthier. I hope they believe in this mission as much as we do *cross fingers*. If you like, you can read the full press release in partnership with ICAgile here: https://elisanpartners.com/2018/09/13/elisan-partners-launches-asia-pacific-first-agile-marketing-training-course-accredited-by-icagile/
If you would like to find out more about our Agile Marketing training course, you can drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, call +65 9687 2858 or check out the details on here: https://elisanpartners.com/agile-marketing-training-course/
Let’s make work better for our marketers.