You need results. To get results, you need to change.
As marketers, we’d like to think we’re more receptive than most. Change is omnipresent—from technology disruption to evolving consumer preferences.
Unfortunately, change is hard, and it doesn’t happen overnight. If you want to enact effective, lasting change then you need a good change management strategy in your marketing program.
B2B marketing teams commonly wrestle with three types of change:
Let's take a look at how those interlocking layers of change can play out for your marketing organization. We'll explore the challenges they present and see real-world examples that will help you apply effective change management principles to your situation.
What is change management? Why do I need it in marketing?
Change management involves implementing strategies to help your team enact, control, and adapt to changes.
Introducing change is difficult, though. Your colleagues may initially feel uncomfortable and unsure of how they will be personally affected.
Reassurance is key. Here are some common concerns teammates may have:
Losing their job
Having to learn new skills
Working with new people or unfamiliar processes
Lack of resources (funding, time, or staff)
Fear of failure (especially strong if the changes involve a high level of risk)
Unless your team has innate excitement about the changes you’re implementing, you may need to consider some light branding and messaging work to frame changes in a positive way. The better your framing, the more likely you are to be successful in motivating your colleagues to embrace this journey.
Above all, it’s important to reinforce the message that you’re in this together and have control over the changes.
Handling enterprise-wide change
Now that we’ve covered change management basics, let’s examine the first common type: enterprise-wide change. These scenarios include sweeping, complicated changes affecting nearly all aspects of an organization.
They can include:
New company vision or major changes to business goals
Mergers or acquisitions
New sales models
As a marketing leader, you’re responsible for guiding your teams to enact these changes, equipping them with support and resources—which may include getting agency help.
Let’s look at a real example of how we helped our client successfully navigate their enterprise-wide change.
Modernizing a sales model
InfinityQS, a leading quality management SaaS company, knew they needed to modernize their sales approach to stay competitive. Their CEO recognized the benefits of moving to a product-led sales approach that:
Lowers the cost of sale
Cuts customers’ time-to-value
Builds profitability into the business model
However, such a significant shift meant disrupting traditional structures and rethinking marketing, sales, and support operations.
Time was an issue, too. The CEO set an aggressive three-month goal to launch a self-guided portal where customers could use the software, evaluate it, and discover its value for themselves.
With all these moving elements, their teams needed a marketing and technology partner they could trust to ensure everyone was rowing the boat in the same direction. Our team worked closely with leadership and team stakeholders to develop an effective change management approach.
First, we set up regular meetings with senior management. During these meetings we reported the highlights of large-scale development projects, shared the status of actionable items, and discussed any roadblocks.
In scenarios like this one, we mainly play a consultative role. However, if we discover a way to improve projects (based on research and expertise), we’ll share our recommendations. We’ve found being proactive is critical to keep momentum strong.
With InfinityQS, our responsibilities went beyond consultation as we helped them plan a strategy and execute the pivot. We:
Monitored sales metrics that tie to key goals
Mapped internal processes and coordinated change implementation
Ensured the right people were involved in key meetings
How a partner helps
When so many puzzle pieces are scattered about, you need an unbiased outsider’s perspective to set parameters that will keep everyone moving toward shared goals.
If you’re planning or adapting to change management challenges like this one, start by imagining and documenting your expected scope.
Enterprise-wide changes affect many teams. A partner makes this process easier by not only saving you time, but also leveraging their change management expertise to ensure success.
A layer deeper than the enterprise level is change management in marketing. That is, enacting and managing changes specific to marketing—strategy, execution, and optimization.
Unlike enterprise-wide planning, marketing changes are more frenetic and rapid.
Paid, social, and organic marketing campaigns are good examples. Why? Because these disciplines experience frequent change, from technology updates to shifts in consumer behavior. That forces marketers to constantly change strategy and execution.
Digital campaigns follow a cycle, boiled down for brevity here: Strategy, execution, and refinement (based on results). Often these elements need simultaneous adjustments depending on the pressure and timeline to produce results.
Navigating ongoing change initially appears daunting. However, if you keep these tips in mind, it becomes easier to manage.
Establish regular reporting cadences: Depending on how drastic the changes are, you may need to review details daily to ensure your team remains on track and avoids any process bottlenecks.
Review and refine: Regular marketing reviews make it easy to see how your campaign strategy is progressing. Reviews surface which tactics need adjustments, such as reallocating paid media ad budgets or pursuing a new messaging direction.
Track metrics impacting long-term goals: Campaigns are limited in nature, so make sure you’re looking at how your tactics are moving you closer to your long-term goals. Some tactics such as content pillars and other SEO efforts take time to show results.
How a partner helps
There’s significant change management in marketing campaigns, and at a higher level, marketing strategy. Marketing requires constant and consistent optimization across editorial planning, program and creative development, deployment, and monitoring.
Don’t stretch your team’s time thin. Get a partner with both the marketing and project management expertise to accomplish projects.
Many agencies will provide strategy but lack follow-through. A great partner will provide more than just strategic recommendations, they’ll monitor ongoing performance closely. Then, they close the loop with data-based optimization suggests ensuring you’re going to be effective.
Is there a large tech project on your horizon, such as choosing a new CMS? Are you integrating a marketing automation tool with your website? Or maybe you’re facing technology changes on a smaller scale that your time-strapped team is delayed on like launching a new landing page?
The good news is any technology changes follow a typical development lifecycle: plan, design, implement, test, deploy, and optimize.
The bad news is you can experience endless disruptions to your web dev projects.
Our advice? Employ sound practices to empower your technology change management:
Set a monthly planning meeting to steer everyone in the right direction
Schedule brief weekly tech check-ins to discuss any urgent details
Use stage environments—a useful tool for testing any changes before publishing
How a partner helps
Regardless of what technology changes you’re making, relying solely on your internal team is unfair. Likely your developers have a large existing workload, consuming their time and energy—and distracting them from activities that directly impact marketing goals.
Look for a partner who specializes in client-centric recommendations and one who tests everything. They should strive to build solutions right the first time to keep you from wasting time and money later.
As far as services are concerned, a partner can help you clear an out-of-control website project backlog if they offer a development retainer service.
Minimize disruption and maximize your momentum
A trusted partner can act as a critical extension for your teams during the onerous change management process. Getting help also ensures your crucial programs won’t get derailed.
If you’re on the verge of change—or in the middle—contact us to see how our team’s experience and expertise can help.