In marketing, we want strategies that will bring results quickly. We care about the tools and techniques that are winning today, but we miss focusing on the best way to work with a team to drive results in an efficient and productive way.
More About This Show
The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insight on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.
In this episode, Zach talks to Kristina Damschen Spina, VP of Marketing at Indow, about how her marketing team has been built around data and efficiency to create autonomy and achieve their KPIs.
A Different Approach
While many people come to the building materials industry either through a family connection or an educational path, Kristina’s arrival at Indow was a little different. A professional stage manager in San Francisco, she decided to put her skills to use in the start-up space, where project managers were in demand.
Indow’s ideal customer is a single-occupancy homeowner looking to improve the energy efficiency or noise insulation of their windows. Kristina’s marketing team uses deep segmenting to market directly to consumers, while still selling through dealers.
Many building materials manufacturers struggle with how to balance B2C marketing with channel conflict with dealers. By finding ways to funnel sales to dealers — while still connecting directly with homeowners — Indow is able to scale their sales footprint in rural areas that their dealers can’t reach.
The approach may be a little non-traditional, but that’s not surprising since Kristina’s background is also unconventional. And the approach isn’t just limited to their marketing messaging. It goes right back to how they build their marketing strategies, using approaches that have their foundation in manufacturing, not marketing: Lean and Agile.
Lean and Agile Marketing
Many manufacturers are probably already using some kind of Lean strategy when it comes to production. Along with Agile, Lean focuses on finding efficiencies, reducing waste — whether in raw materials or in resources like time — and continuously improving processes.
Kristina says, “Agile is more on the development side. It's more about creating a product that isn't tangible like Lean is. When you start getting into how that's implemented is where they diverge, but really, in its core philosophies, it's based on the same founding principles of just improving what you're creating and the processes that you're building around that.”
That’s all well and good as a philosophy, but Zach wants to know what that means in implementation: “Talk me through what that looks like on a daily basis. Are you saying, ‘Okay, we're going to look at these KPIs every two weeks? And then depending upon that, we're going to pivot.’ What does that look like tangibly? Can you kind of paint that picture for me?”
Kristina’s marketing department starts with annual goals, then breaks them down into monthly core goals and KPIs. But she and her team are prepared to tweak those goals and metrics, especially given the seasonality of their work.
“When you're working with an Agile system, you want to make sure that you have a plan that you're adaptive to the things that are happening as you're doing the work,” she says.
Once a monthly plan is set, the team works in weekly segments called sprints. These sprints are based on time-bound goals that the team sets out to achieve together. In tech environments, those goals are usually pretty tangible, like having a project ready to ship, but in marketing, they may be a little more nebulous.
“When it's within sales and marketing, it might be a looser goal or an achievement that you want to have with either completing a project you guys are all doing in tandem or completing some sort of more abstract goal of what you're trying to achieve to get to maybe your monthly goal.”
And while some people may balk at how restrictive this structure sounds, Kristina says it actually gives her team a lot of freedom. “You leave it to them to manage how they prioritize what happens within that sprint.”
Creating an Agile Team
Zach’s enthusiastic about both the freedom and structure that Agile offers, but he admits sometimes the implementation runs into a very specific roadblock: people.
“It sounds great in concept. But when you actually get down to it, and the rubber meets the road, some people, their brain can't compute or they're pushing up against the side and say, ‘I've never done this before in this type of environment.’ Have you run into that before, and if so, how did you overcome that?”
Kristina admits that, when she first introduced Agile, only one person on her team had ever heard of it, and very few were even used to working in any kind of project management structure.
“They trusted me. I had already had that advantage of gaining that portion of the relationship. So they were open to trying things, but they were really, really skeptical. But what has come out of it is everyone absolutely loves the program.”
She cites one example of a team member who was resistant to the process initially but, a year later in his annual review, admitted it was his favorite change over the past twelve months.
“I think it's because it involves so much collaboration. It sounds like it’s this rigid micromanaging process when you first hear of it, but as soon as you start going into it, you realize that you can't move forward without understanding everyone's inputs and giving everyone a voice within that.”
She also works hard to get buy-in when introducing new processes, so people can see the value quickly. While some were familiar with using automation in communications with customers, they were less familiar with using them internally.
“I wanted to start getting them used to this concept and showed them a map that I created on a whiteboard of a particular project where we could experiment with workflows. And we said, ‘We're just going to do this one-day event where we try and launch a big product by the end of the day.’”
Instead of spending weeks and weeks doing training and trying to convince team members of the value, they were able to put it into action over the course of a single day and immediately see the efficiencies that could be realized.
“Through that process, they really discovered how, even though it seemed like this overbearing structure, as soon as they went into the system and started moving through, these automations begin to occur and everything started moving in a rhythm that they really got used to.”
One of the other elements that Agile fosters is communication. “I think when people are starting to collaborate in a new way on a project, they want to make sure that everyone has a voice.”
But How Do You Do It?
While Agile marketing offers such holy grails as real collaboration and clear KPIs, it can feel overwhelming to introduce. Zach wants to know how Kristina learned how to build her system, and where others who might be considering the same thing can find information.
Kristina credits Rich Radford, a former Director of Operations at Indow, for being inspirational with changes he made on the production floor.
“The work that he did on the production floor was so inspiring to me, just the way that he managed his team, the way that he brought efficiency to everything that they do, and he got people involved and understanding what the KPIs were having different levels, doing reporting, and just following lean practices, kind of to a model.”
As for formal learning, starting is actually pretty easy. “Looking at just the Agile Manifesto; it's 68 words, it's not gonna take you long. So I think you can handle that one in a coffee break.”
Kristina says there are great online communities available to help work through some of your challenges and stumbling blocks, whether you’re looking to add Agile to your sales and marketing, Lean to your manufacturing, or any other part of your business operations.
“They apply it in real-world scenarios. And that's key. It can't just be a book that you read about Agile; it has to be just jumping in and trying some things. Because the core principle of Agile is that you make it work for you that you don't follow some template. You work with your team to develop a process that's truly unique.”
Got a Question?
Get in touch with Kristina on LinkedIn.
If you have questions about how to find efficiencies and set metrics for your marketing, let us know! Shoot us an email at [email protected] with all of your questions.
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