There was an interesting article on MediaPost a couple of days ago. The headline and abstract were, as is typical in today’s “web-journalism-for-clicks,” misleading. Still and all, no one ran with the story, because (a) there was nothing about social media in it, and (b) it dealt with the “sausage making” part of digital marketing. Doesn’t make for good blog readership.
As if Lairig Marketing needs to worry about that.
So let’s dig a little deeper on this one. The lede to the MediaPost article was thus: “Razorfish has carved out a new practice area aimed at helping CMOs get products and services to market more quickly.”
A lie. The digital firm’s new offering, named Razorfish Agile, has nothing to do with products or services. It is solely aimed at getting digital marketing outputs designed and built faster. Translation = websites and banners, mostly. Hardly “products and services.”
Anyway, from the article, the following benefits of “agile development” are highlighted:
- “launch projects faster than…going through the traditional approach of developing projects to completion before going live”
- “rapidly create rough drafts of Web sites and digital marketing campaigns, then modify them based on customer feedback”
On the surface, this seems pretty compelling. Who doesn’t want stuff built faster? Yet I think Razorfish is tackling the wrong end of the marketing chain. My rough estimate is that 75% of project time is spent before design and development. This is especially true if you include the time for project scoping and selecting vendors (and then rescoping!). By the time projects “start,” most are already 2 to 4 weeks behind schedule.
And, of course, an unmovable launch date looms. One that was chosen at random and without any real understanding of the work that would be required.
So Razorfish can shave a month off the backend? Cool. And smart in many ways. Most of the delays in the design phase come from a ridiculous client approval (read: disapproval) process, where a series of dumb meetings take place changing images and fonts and color palettes back and forth. Eliminating those would be a blessing to anyone.
Smart also because now Razorfish gains back that month and about five more months by having to stick around after a too-early launch to work out all the bugs and bad experiences the customers point out. Ka-ching!
According to the MediaPost article, Razorfish believes this is a CMO-level topic in which the agency will train the CMO in “rapid-prototyping techniques” so that CMOs can “prove their value constantly through innovation.”
If you didn’t spot the erroneous thinking in that last paragraph, here’s a recap:
- Design and development is at once way over the CMO’s head while being way below his or her job span
- Working out the bugs of a website launched too early is not “innovation”
As always, it is so much fun to do a “practice what you preach check” on an agency announcement like this. In that vein, just how “agile” is Razorfish with its own website (which has crap navigation and an annoying “I’m eating a ham sandwich” Twitter stream)?
Would you be surprised if I told you Razorfish’s own website isn’t agile enough to contain an announcement of the Agile practice? [UPDATE: Razorfish now shows a press release in "News" about Agile, posted just now, July 30, but strangely dated July 27th.] Nor a listing of it in the “Offerings” section? [UPDATE #2: On Saturday, July 31, the agency finally put "Agile" at the bottom of its list of offerings - that link takes you to...? The press release that was posted three days late!] Nor a mention on its Technology blog?
The best opportunity ever to show the world you eat your own cooking. Blown.