“Fast Eats Slow”: Bringing Agility to Marketing with Andrea Fryrear

🎧 Episode 112 of Yes, and Marketing


Turns outs, agile isn’t just for dev teams.

On this episode, we talk with Andrea Fryrear, CEO and co-founder of AgileSherpas. As the foremost expert on agile marketing, she shared a ton of valuable information around what agile is and how it can help marketers with some of their biggest challenges.

The rest of the conversation ranges from The Silmarillion to vaccine campaigns to entrepreneurial advice from Eminem, so listen to the full conversation above or read on for the highlights. You can also view clips from all our episodes on our show page.


📛 Who is Andrea Fryrear?

What she does: Co-founder of AgileSherpas and author of Mastering Marketing Agility.

Find Andrea on the web: AgileSherpas | Mastering Marketing Agility | LinkedIn

Get smart: “Taking a step forward is almost always better than not doing anything.”


💡 Episode Highlights

Read verbatim excerpts from our interview with Andrea Fryrear.

How she went from English major to marketer

“It started off when I was working at a newspaper syndicate and they needed to redo their website. And I was the youngest person in the building, which somehow seemed to qualify me to run a website. So, I got put in charge of the website, and from there it’s a short jump to ‘How do we get people to come to the website?’ which means SEO and digital marketing.

And then several years later, content marketing started to become the up-and-coming model for best practice marketing, and so I was like, ‘Oh, I know how to write, and it turns out I know digital marketing,’ and now those things have magically come together.”

What is agile?

I like to think of agile as acknowledging that we don’t know everything up front when we start doing any kind of work. We used to think that we could—if we planned enough, if we researched enough, then the project would go fine. It would all be okay. But it really doesn’t ever go okay—we just can’t know everything. 

…Even if you did customer interviews, business requirements, all this stuff—you’d have the massive requirements document, and then they’d go away and work on it for like two years, put it out in front of people and they’d be like, ‘That’s not what I meant. That’s not what I wanted.’ And that was just so wasteful and expensive. So, agile was this idea that, ‘How about we do a little bit of work and then show it to people and see what they think and get their feedback and their input, and then use what they told us to do the next phase of work.’ 

So that’s really the core of it is, let’s do less upfront planning and let’s do more continuous conversation and continuous improvement as we go along.

The seven values of agile marketing

  1. Customer focus
  2. Radical transparency
  3. Continuous improvement
  4. Adaptability
  5. Trust
  6. Bias to action
  7. Courage 

What AgileSherpas does

“We go into marketing departments and teach, first. ‘How is agile gonna work? What does it actually look like?’ We make sure everybody’s got a shared understanding, and then help put all those things into practice through coaching. 

For larger organizations, we do organizational design consulting. So, how do you need to reconfigure your teams? What leadership buy-in do we need? Do we have the right tools and systems to enable all of this? 

We really support the implementation of agile marketing end-to-end.”

How agile can help with the hardest part of content marketing: Distribution

“It’s easy to make stuff and harder to get it out where it needs to go, just as a general rule, but agile is a great tool for this actually because it requires us to visualize all of the steps in the activities that constitute work being done. And so content shouldn’t be considered ‘done’ until we’ve distributed it, promoted it, amplified it, all of those things.”

Where the concept of “standups” came from

“A standup meeting is only supposed to last 15 minutes and the idea was, if you are standing, you will be more motivated to hold to your 15-minute time box because you don’t wanna just keep standing up for 30, 45, 60 minutes. It’s a mechanism to keep the meeting short and succinct.

Marketing is a superpower

“If you have any kind of entrepreneurial interest or spark in you, the fact that you know how to market puts you at a big advantage over other people who might have brilliant ideas, but not really know how to get it in front of people or get them to take action.”

Entrepreneurial lessons from Eminem

“When I made the decision to jump and leave full time employment, like a lot of people, I was trying to hedge my bets, because I believed in agile and I thought it was gonna be an amazing opportunity to start training people around it, but I had small kids and it was like, ‘Am I really gonna do this? I’ve never run a business before.’ So I asked my boss at the time if I could go part-time and then work on my new business part-time, and she was originally like, ‘Yeah, sure,

that sounds great. Half time’s better than zero of you and we’ll make it work.’ Unfortunately, she had to go get it blessed by our CEO at the time who said, “Nope, no part-time work is allowed in marketing.” 

…Now I had to make a choice of stay or go, and I sat down at my computer because I was really conflicted. I didn’t know what to do. I put on my headphones and hit shuffle on my work playlist, and the first song that came on was the Eminem song ‘Lose Yourself,’ and the first line is ‘If you had one shot, one opportunity to seize everything you’ve ever wanted, would you capture it or let it slip?

And I was like, the universe has spoken. Thanks so much, Eminem. And I just couldn’t stay after that.”

Lessons from working with the Ad Council during the vaccine campaign rollout

“They worked so hard to connect to communities, and they had very robust networks of spiritual leaders, community leaders in the places where they suspected that vaccine hesitancy would be high for various reasons. And so from go, they were really focused on getting the right trusted leaders out there and conveying messaging and arming them with good data and science and information.”

What’s changed in marketing

“Now there’s this idea that everyone’s a media company, right? So it’s not just content, but it’s media—multiple ways to communicate over the life cycle and access people way where they are and where they’re gonna be. It’s just a different way of thinking about it, which I think is really exciting because it means that content is now really integrated and essential. It’s what marketing—good marketing—is.”

Why AgileSherpas was built from content marketing, not outbound sales

“If businesses can start this way and you don’t have to throw tens of thousands of advertising dollars or a dozen sales people at a problem, it’s so much more scalable, and you’ve got so much less risk on the front end.


🎙️ Andrea Fryrear Quotes

“Agile at its heart is this idea of like, ‘How about we just talk to the end users more while we’re making stuff?’ And that works for marketing, it works for software, it works for everybody.”

“One of my favorite acronyms is GEFN: Is it Good Enough For Now?”

“Taking a step forward is almost always better than not doing anything.”

“I don’t think it’s ‘Big eats small’ anymore. It’s ‘Fast eats slow.”

“Get the boring stuff out of the way, and then you can get into the shiny fancy stuff.”

“Wouldn’t we all rather consume well-thought-out and nicely created content than be bombarded with ads?”


📚 Learn More

Here’s what Andrea had to say about Joe Pulizzi, Anne Handley, and Andrew Davis: “They’re so prolific and they’re so smart. And my favorite thing about all of them is they are doing what they’re teaching you to do. They are all exercising the best practices that they’re talking about in their own content.”

LOTR fan? Check out The Silmarillion for some bonus nerd points.

Twisted Pine is Andrea’s favorite Colorado brewery.

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