How to Drive Demand Marketing Change without Sinking the Ship

change_managment_b2b_demand_marketing.pngAs both Scott Vaughan and I have discussed at length in recent posts, there’s a growing need for the automation of top-funnel B2B marketing activities. This is a key requirement if we’re to climb the B2B marketing maturity curve and fully orchestrate demand.

Unfortunately, attaining key elements of demand orchestration (fully automated funnel, dynamic personal messaging and real-time analysis and optimization) is far from easy. It requires a significant amount of change – in mindset, processes and technology. And as we all know, managing change is often the toughest part of any new initiative.

Deploying a new strategic marketing initiative or even adopting a new marketing technology often comes with many hurdles: untangling existing processes; mitigating internal resistance to get all stakeholders on board; avoiding disrupting existing business; and overcoming fear of learning new systems.

Instead of fighting change, embracing new opportunities promises big rewards. And in an industry where the rate of change is constantly accelerating, the best defense is a smart offense.

Here are a few specific steps to help you manage change in your marketing organization to achieve greater results.

Focus on measurable marketing initiatives that will create business value

Effective change most often happens when you focus your energy on efforts that transform or accelerate the business. Two areas marketers cite frequently are:

  1. Customer-driven initiatives that drive revenue, and
  2. Marketing automation and marketing integration projects that unlock cost savings.

These efforts are measurable and showcase the ways change can create business value.

Be and identify other champions of change

Change rarely starts at the top (but usually requires executive buy-in). Solicit and dig for smart ideas in every corner, both internally (within your company) and externally (from customers to influencers to analysts).

Then, socialize the need and opportunity for change, identifying and rewarding “change agents” who will set the tone for others. Using this collective knowledge and passion will help advance your effort. At the same time, identify and isolate naysayers. These people are those who find small or petty reasons not to make changes and often try to sabotage change.

Assertive, fast-moving advocates define success and ignite the most valuable efforts. Focus on the possibilities, not the pitfalls. Volunteer to get your hands dirty. Not only will you learn, but you can share your knowledge to fire up peers while you get to work on the most interesting marketing initiatives.

Communicate and share a vision that inspires change

Like all successful marketing efforts, frame your ideas in a story that inspires and causes action. Articulate the challenges and what’s possible. An effective approach is to show the before and after of the change that needs to be made. While building a vision and story is important, avoid hyperbolic Silicon Valley speak – it only undermines the originality of your ideas.

Put an emphasis on marketing agility

Having a fully baked plan with projected results is great, but don’t let analysis paralysis doom your new initiatives before they get off the ground. Think instead about tests that fail or succeed fast, creating clear insight into future opportunities, and ways you can build momentum. Tests are one of the best learning tools that marketing leaders have at their disposal, so fire away.

Demonstrate business value whenever possible

The world is filled with naysayers — those who are either against a project from the outset, prefer the old way of doing things, or seem to be just as happy when things fail. Having success stories, data points and examples on hand to educate executives, colleagues and even the naysayers will limit human obstacles to change.

If you’re thinking of deploying a new initiative or completely overhauling an existing process, I can relate to your pain. But I can also confirm that the biggest challenges often stand in front of the best opportunities.

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