A Marketer’s Guide to Agile a Development – Who Said It:

When it comes to meetings, meanings of common phrases differ depending who’s talking;

“So that’s the problem in a nutshell. Thoughts?”

– “I’d like to hear your opinion on how I might approach the solution.”

– “I want you to solve this for me, but I don’t want to ask you outright.”

– “I got nothing. Any ideas? Pleeeeze?”

– “Tag – You’re It!”

“Let’s circle back on this later.”

– “There are more pressing priorities, so we’ll revisit this topic at another time.”

– “We aren’t making any progress here – and I need a Red a Bull really bad right now.”

– “You’re clearly delusional. We’ll talk about this once you re-enter earth’s atmosphere.”

– “If you don’t stop talking, I’m going to gouge my eyes out with this pen.”

“That’s a great question.”

– “Good question.”

– “Stupid question.”

– “Phew – I know the answer to this one.”

– “Crap – I got nothing.”

A Marketer’s Guide to Agile Development – You Can’t Make Me

I fly US Airways a lot. Not road-warrior status, but several thousand miles per month.

In the many years I’ve flown US Airways, my assigned boarding zone has varied. You know, sometimes you win (Zone 1 or 2), sometimes you lose (Zone 4 or 5). But something’s changed – in the last few months, I’ve been consistently assigned Zone 4 or 5 for boarding. Understand, it’s not just drawing the short straw occasionally – it’s become a running joke among my travel colleagues – “Bye Cathy, see you in [insert city here]”.

Lately I’ve eschewed wheeled luggage for soft duffel bags that fit under the seat. As any traveler knows, Zone 4 or 5 equals no overhead bin space. As in, “sorry, we’re gonna have to go ahead and gate-check that bag for ya, ma’am.”

I am loyal to the airline. I’m frequently assigned TSA Pre-Check status. My ticket fares are almost never in the aggregator bargain-basement tier. They have every reason to like me. So why is this happening?

I have a theory – I’ve never signed up for their credit card.

I suspect my consumer and behavioral profile fits US Airways’ propensity model of customers who should. One of the perks of a US Airways credit card holders is – wait for it – Zone 2 boarding for all flights. My hypothesis is that the inconvenient boarding zone assignments are being used as a prod. They’re to nudge me into signing up for their credit card so I can start carrying a wheeled bag again. Too Machiavellian, you say? Perhaps. But that’s my theory.

I’m so onto you, US Airways. You are the masters of segmentation. But I don’t care how many times you assign me to Boarding Zone Siberia. You can’t make me get your credit card. I can hold out. Two words. Travel knits.

Update 4/18/14: The siege is over – got Zone 2!!

Update 6/18/14: No, it’s not over – oh, alright, I’m getting the damn card. You win.

Agile Humor – Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road? – Ad Agency Edition

Data Analytics

Cell 1 [Side of the Road A] Attrition = -1
Cell 2 [Side of the Road B] Acquisition = +1
Net Gain = 0
Key Drivers; Insufficient Sample Size, More Data Needed


She didn’t. Chicken concept didn’t fly – focus group liked the puppy.


The Side Of The Road A landing page needs to be retooled to improve engagement.

Client Services

No puppy. The client chose the chicken concept. Actually they asked if it could be a rooster.

Client Services

Can the rooster be black? With red tail feathers?

Client Services

No roosters. We need to bring back the chicken. Their CMO was once bitten by a rooster.


Tell the chicken to code the time spent road crossing to Account CHIXCROSS438.

Client Services

The client’s just signed on a new CMO. She liked the puppy.

Agile Humor – And Even More Agile Drinks

“Lean In” Mule

Vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice, made between 11:15 pm and 6:30 am because that’s the only time you’re not at work.

Unrealistic Mojito

Macerate 6 mint leaves in a simple syrup of tubinado sugar and water, add a shot of Cuban rum, juice one lime into…geez, this is taking way longer than the estimate, we’ll have to carry it in the next sprint.

Intern Screwdriver

Skittles-infused vodka, orange juice, and a pile of swizzle sticks to organize by length and color.

A Marketer’s Guide to Agile Development – A Tale of Two Christmas List Apps

Last year I downloaded an app to help me keep track of my Christmas shopping. I paid the small fee for extra functionality and no ads. It did all the things it said it would do. But it annoyed the crap out of me every day I used it.

This year I downloaded a different app to accomplish the same task. The design is clunky and uses gaudy colors. It’s done up in some kitschy font – looks like Comic Sans on a bender. It also does all the things it said it would do. And I like it much better.

Why? Both apps track budgets, recipients, gifts and costs. But here’s the difference. This year’s app lets me think like a Christmas shopper, while last year’s app forced me to think like a DBA.

Let’s say I bought my nephew Alex a Tom Brady jersey for $48.

Last Year’s App:

Step 1: Click to the Recipient area
Step 2: Enter my nephew Alex’s name.
Step 3: Click “Save”.
Step 4: Click to the Gift area.
Step 5: Enter “Tom Brady Jersey” in the Gift field and $48 in the Price field.
Step 6: Click “Save”.
Step 7: Click back to the Recipient area
Step 8: Find Alex in the Name drop-down.
Step 9: Find “Tom Brady Jersey” in the Gift drop-down.
Step 10: Click “Save”.

I had to repeat these steps for every recipient, and almost every gift. It did have a feature where I could choose multiple recipients for the same gift. Useful if I was giving all my nephews the same Patriots jersey – which I wasn’t. So using it got pretty old, pretty quick.

This Year’s App:

Step 1: Click to the New List area.
Step 2: Enter Alex’s name.
Step 3: Enter “Tom Brady Jersey” in the Gift field.
Step 4: Enter $48 in the Price field.
Step 5: Click “Save”.

And we’re done. It probably creates the same tables as the other app. But it lets me enter the data using a shopper’s thought process instead of a programmer’s. So it’s a keeper. I guess now I have to pay $1.99 so I don’t get an ad every 30 seconds begging me to play Candy Crush.

Agile Humor – Ten Things Heard at Every Thanksgiving Dinner

10. “Just pile your coats on the bed.”

9. “Let’s eat – oh wait, we should say grace.”

8. “Who wants to say grace?”

7. “Somebody took my fork.”

6. “Oh no, are the rolls still in the oven?”

5. “Five hours cooking, and the meal’s over in twenty minutes.”

4. “I cannot possibly eat another thing.”

3. (Same person, 5 minutes later) “Just a sliver.”

2. “Nobody ate the green salad.”

1. “I’m just gonna let that pan soak.”

A Marketer’s Guide to Agile Development – UX: Don’t Try This At Home

Calling one segment “A” and the other “B” doesn’t make it an A/B test.

You are not a representative sample. You have skin in the game and you know too much.

Your typical user is not a programmer. Don’t force him or her to think like one.

Designers rule at Apple. Programmers rule at Microsoft. One created the iPod. The other created the Zune. UX matters.

If you can’t find the relevant copy on the site, it doesn’t matter how cool the font is.

Agile Humor – Still More Definitions

Testing Phase – Period that elapses from a cheery “Sure we can make that change” to a sign on the back of your chair that says “ADD IT TO PHASE 2”.

Aggressive Deliverable – You’ll get there with some hard work, a little luck, and seven or eight cases of Five-Hour Energy Drink under your desk.

Stretch Goal – It’s definitely achievable. So’s the Triple Crown. You’ll actually see that portion of your bonus about as often.

Just a Small Tweak – It’s not like you have to boil the ocean or anything – just Boston Harbor and Puget Sound.

In Scope – It’s something new we want in the software. And you’re writing software. So it’s all the in the scope of – you know, software. Plus, it’s nothing major, really just a small tweak.

A Marketer’s Guide To Agile – Top 7 Reasons Why Your Data Is So Crappy

How and when data is captured is a vital part of decision-making in call center scripting, digital architecture, sales presentations, just about everything that touches a customer. There are things you can do to help make it better, but some issues will be always with us. So, here’s why your data is crapola, in no particular order…


In the data world, spelling counts. Whether data is being entered by professionals or by the customers themselves, text fields will be rife with errors. That is true no matter how clever you get with the drop-down boxes or type-ahead functionality. The proliferation of text-speak has made this worse, and spelling is rapidly becoming a matter of personal choice. That doesn’t bode well for text-mining. And no, spell-correct is not the antidote. Entire websites are devoted to how that can go horribly and hilariously wrong.


“Why can’t the digital dev folks just put another box in the online form so the prospect can enter their promo code?”

They can! They will! Just as soon as that work order rises up to the top of the priority list. Right now the project manager has it in the backlog. Where work orders go to ripen, get covered with brown spots, and die.


The data was shocking. Month after month, nearly a third of all disenrolling customers were dropping service due to bankruptcy. Nationwide. All segments. So I planted myself in the call center for a few days. In the CRM system, the drop-down box marked “Reason for Leaving” had 35 choices. “Bankruptcy” starts with a B, so it came up at the top of the drop-down. Too bad “Alien Invasion” wasn’t one of the choices, it would have been caught more quickly. So, yeah, that happens. In my experience, 12 choices is the limit for an effective drop-down in a call center. Any more than 12, and boom – 30% of the country mysteriously goes bankrupt.


The marketer: “This email address is blank – it should be a required field.”
The analyst: “Someone input their mailing address in the email field.”
The email vendor: “Lots of these email addresses are undeliverable.”

Coding an email field with an input mask requiring a “@” character and a period will solve the analyst’s problem. Making it a required field will mean 100% of records are populated, which will satisfy the marketer (at least temporarily). Coding an email field with that input mask plus making it a required field will get you a lot of bad email addresses like “noneofyourbiz@buzzoff.com”. That can get you blacklisted with ISP’s. It can also spike your abandonment rate on the digital form page.

But marketers – it’s not the developer’s job to know that – it’s yours. He or she will code to your requirement specs. Think through the ramifications of stakeholder requirements – and make sure the requirements reflect a considered decision.


First, let’s get one thing straight. UX and good data capture are NOT mutually exclusive. But what’s great for data capture isn’t always great for the user experience, and the two must be balanced. I once had an HR stakeholder tell me that data was vitally important to her, so it was a requirement that users submit 10 fields of personal data into a web form before they could browse jobs on the company’s career site. I told her that strategy would get her the best data and the three most committed job seekers she ever saw. The rest would bail.


The promo postcards start hitting consumer mailboxes at 8am, and the TV ad blitz started airing at 9am. The campaign is a hit! Responses galore! Great! Except Marketing forgot to notify the Customer Service Manager that the promo schedule had changed, so she isn’t staffed up for the traffic onslaught. The unfortunate reps that are schededuled today can’t keep up with the volume. Calls are going unanswered. Their priority today is not great data capture. Their priority today is to take as many calls as possible and make it through their shift alive.


Sales reps’ income largely depends on how many sales units and revenue dollars they bring in. For customer service reps, bonus criteria often include average handle time, time-to-answer, off-hook time, etc. Sometimes data accuracy is part of the incentive formula, but it’s almost never the lion’s share. Generally, when short-term incentives are introduced for better data capture, data capture gets better. And when the incentive period is through, the gains recede, although hopefully to a little higher than baseline.

Agile Humor – Definitions

Kanbanter – Small talk exchanged while you and a fellow developer view progress on the board.

Custermation – When a project’s resources estimate is about as accurate as Custer’s prior to the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Reverse Time Lapse – When seven hours elapse while finishing a piece of code with a one-hour estimate.

Pessimestimation – When you start padding six extra hours onto every hour of estimated work.

Doubtsourcing – When stakeholders start contracting out work because all of the internal team’s time estimates appear six or seven times too high.

Marketing Meets IT