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Romek Jansen, 14 Jan '16

Maximize the Agile Marketing Effect; Tweak the User Story

Not all Agile Marketers see the benefits of a User Story. Make your User Story effective and Powerful with this simple tweak.

We identified 6 fundamental differences between the nature of Agile Marketing and Agile Development. We will blog about each one of them over the next few weeks. Last time we introduced the Definition-of-Success in an addition to the Definition-of-Done. Now we take a closer look at the User Story. Here is how you can tweak the User Story perspective to make it a powerful tool for Agile Marketing too.

What is a User Story?

The User Story is an informal description that captures what a user does or needs from the new function or product. It is often written in the following form:

As a <type of user> I want to <some desire> so I can <some benefit>.

Like a persona description, which brings context to customer segments, the user story brings context by specifying who is going to use the product feature, how the feature should look and why the feature is required. In agile the User Story is not a “mandatory” tool. It is merely a handy and popular support tool. For developers, the who/how/why statement brings a heap of value because it allows them to better understand the customer and build a better product.

For marketers the case seems different. Just ask around. Not all Agile Marketers are passionate about working with User Stories. It’s an easy tool to disregard because its added value is perceived as small.

Let’s have a look at an existing example of an Agile Marketing User Story.

"As a stay-at-home mom, I would like to see an illustration of different exercises that I can do while cooking so I can squeeze in fitness while preparing meals."

Although this story tells you about the fitness needs of the stay-at-home mom, it does not explain why any manager would spend budget on it. It does not give the context of why this illustration is a good idea for, for example a Product Manager to invest marketing budget on.

What about a Buyer Story!

If we change the perspective to the “Internal Customer” or the buyer of the marketing publication the User Story looks like this…

"As a Product Manager Frozen Foods I want to distribute an illustration of different exercises that a stay-at-home-mom can do while cooking, to increase brand awareness and defend our Top-of-Mind position."

Same story, but a different perspective and context. Although the Product Manager might be interested in stay-at-home moms with fit bodies, the main reason to do the illustration is brand awareness.

Agile is a method that preaches “customer centricity”. The user has a central place in everything. But who is the user in Agile Marketing? Who is the main beneficiary of the deliverables?

Marketers are often so focused on the customer that they forget who is actually “buying” their marketing services. Although the customer is buying the company products, the manager or other business units are normally paying for marketing materials. In Agile Marketing the User Stories will feel more natural when the User story is written from the “buyer” perspective.

In summary: The User is the main beneficiary of the Sprint.

 1. In Agile development the user is the person who is the main functional beneficiary of the developed software. You could say the User is the customer of the end product. Customers pay for end products.

"As a <client of Taurus Invest.Inc> I want to <have mobile access to my portfolio> So I can <monitor its financial performance>."

2. In Agile marketing the user is the person who is the main commercial beneficiary of the developed marketing material. You could say the User is the customer of the marketing services. Internal stakeholders pay for marketing material.

"As a <Digital marketer> I want to <improve the landing page from the Back-To-School campaign> So I can <increase the Click Through Rate>."


This is article #2 from the series “6 Fundamental Differences Between Agile Development and Agile Marketing”.

There are some fundamental differences between how software development teams are run and how marketing teams are managed. As a result, not all agile software development routines can simply be copy & pasted from Software to Marketing and remain relevant. In some areas there is a match made in heaven, in some other areas there will never be a match. And in yet other areas it needs tweaking to become useful for marketing too.

A special thanks goes out to Gidion Peters from His down-to-earth and practical comments helped us to sharpen our Agile Marketing thoughts.

Read other articles from the series here

#1 How to Define Agile Marketing Success

#3 Hey Agile Marketer, How Many Teams Are You In?

#4 Three Agile Marketing Tweaks to Improve The Daily Stand-Up

#5 How to Allocate Budgets in an Agile World

#6 How to Estimate in Agile Marketing