It goes without saying that change is often met with resistance. But in marketing, change and the next big idea is key to attracting new consumers, gaining market share and raising awareness of your brand. Leading change with new initiatives is an important part of any marketer’s job. Fortunately, the path of change can be a smoother, easier one to navigate with the right tools at your disposal. Here are just a few of my tips on approaching, and leading, change in your organization.
Step 1) Develop a strategic marketing plan
A strategic marketing plan is the key first step of any marketing initiative, especially one that will bring change to your organization. Be sure your plan “speaks” your executives’ language. Is the executive team most concerned about gaining market share, attracting new customers, retaining customers or something else entirely? The 2015 CMO Survey offers key insights on what many chief marketing officers find most important, and may be relevant to your organization as well.
Your strategic marketing plan can serve as the road map for the change, and clearly outline “why” the change is necessary and “what” it will accomplish. Once the “what” your change will accomplish is clearly tied into your business’ goals, it’s easier to gain support and traction from leadership.
Step 2) Recruit key people
No individual can effectively implement a new process, procedure or software on his or her own. It’s likely the change will affect people across the organization, in a variety of positions. Recruit colleagues with the right influence to help you share your plan and what it will help your organization accomplish. Keep in mind the most influential people are not always in the C-suite. Your committee or unofficial ambassadors should reflect the cross section of positions and regions your company, and change, will touch.
Another important person to get on board early is an executive champion. You likely already know an executive who would be interested in your new idea or solution. Work with that person early in the process, even while you shape your strategic marketing plan, so he or she can help share the message and impact of your suggested change with fellow executives.
Step 3) Start small
Starting small is a key step internally and externally. As you share your plans and ideas with colleagues, focus on the “OK Zone” to encourage buy-in and support. Be careful not to overwhelm with details and grand, sweeping statements. Instead, identify what is important and of most concern to your colleagues and move them gradually down the path to feeling comfortable with your suggested change – whether it’s a new process, procedure or learning new software.
Once you have gained buy-in and begin to roll out your plan, go slowly. Starting small is a strategic choice that enables you to document success, benchmark plans and share your wins with the executive. When leadership, and your colleagues, see your plan is working as you intended it to, it is much easier to introduce new software or programs across a wider section of employees and customers.
Step 4) Communicate relevant, interesting information
As you begin to lead change and implement your strategic plan, be sure to constantly communicate your company’s successes back up to the top. This is especially important in a phased rollout. When you have bigger, more widespread changes coming, it’s critical to have all key stakeholders on board. For example, when our clients implement a marketing resource management system, they often start small to ensure end users understand the software and are using it. They use small wins to demonstrate the cost savings often found in printing, and communicate up the increased reach of marketing programs implemented at the local level. Communicating interesting, relevant information with stakeholders is key to ensuring future buy-in for bigger, wider-spread implementation of new software or programs.
Step 5) Keep moving forward
As part of any change or strategic plan, it’s also important to keep moving forward. Document your success, but also monitor and acknowledge areas where things aren’t working out as you intended. Address, assess and move forward to ensure the change you’re leading is having the impact your intended.
These five steps to leading change can be applied to many situations: starting a new, innovative marketing campaign your company hasn’t tried before; implementing and demonstrating a return on investment on software that’s changing the way people do their job, and delivering a stronger impact to the business or anything else. Many of our very own clients have successfully used this approach when rolling out a marketing resource management system
What are some ways you have successfully led change in your organization? Please share them with us at @vya_systems.
Have a question about our marketing resource management systems? Please call us at 800-426-7921.