Implementing a marketing automation strategy and solution can feel like drinking from a fire hose. For excited and passionate marketers lucky enough to lead this effort, the possibilities that come with this type of initiative can be both inspiring and overwhelming. This becomes magnified when marketing automation and revenue performance management are foreign concepts to most of your organization, and you not only have to implement the strategy, but also get the rest of the organization on board.
The good news is, you're not alone! In all my conversations with marketing automation professionals over the past few years, a few themes have emerged which I have compiled into a list of tips for avoiding "bright shiny objects" and leading transformative change. Here goes...
- Oil the Squeaky Wheels First – Identify low-hanging fruit and get some quick wins, so you can clear your plate to focus on the bigger issues next. Although it's important to keep the larger strategy in mind, and always be working toward your organization's high level goals, you don't have to wait to start making an impact. Identify a key area of two - perhaps a division that needs to up the ante on lead generation, or a sales team that is flooded with leads and needs some simple qualification in place to help them prioritize. Get a project or two off the ground in the areas that seem to be yelling for it the most, and use that as a foundation for credibility to move toward your larger strategy in the long term.
- Read the Contract – Know what you bought and what you didn’t. It’s tempting to try and scoop up add-ons every time you uncover a need or see a cool new things you’d like to do, but focus on making what you have work first and only then start to enhance. There are a lot of great things you can do with marketing automation solutions, and if you're anything like me, you get excited at the "cool" factor. However, getting some of those key wins under your belt will help justify additional spend for tools that will enhance your larger strategy later. It's a lot easier to ask for more money when you have proven some results.
- Only You Can Create Your Success Plan – No two organizations are the same. There are plenty of tools and planning documents for documenting your strategy and prioritizing, but they aren't cookie cutter templates. They are typically based on best practices learned from existing customers and provide a great starting point. But only you can prioritize and come up with the best approach for your organization. The order in which you accomplish your quick wins and your long term strategic projects are completely dependent on the larger organizational goals. You may need to switch out elements, expand or contract the time frame in which you need to accomplish certain things, or add completely new elements that are specific to your company. That's ok. It's YOUR success...you should control the path to get there.
- Stop Your Yapping and Do It – If you're lucky, you work for an organization that "gets it" and understands what you are talking about when you are trying to explain the potential awesome things you can accomplish with this new strategy. But honestly, most don't. At least not enough to take your word for it alone. Do some test/pilot campaigns in the “new way,” track the results and use the data to do some internal PR work. No one cares what you say as much as they care what you do. Don’t just tell them what can be done, show them. This goes back to getting some quick wins. Seeing results, seeing things done a new way, seeing the impact is far more powerful than hearing someone talk on and on about "we can do THIS and it will help us with THIS."
- Tell Everyone You’re Awesome – when you’re implementing something that requires a lot of behind the scenes foundational work, and people don’t truly understand the broader vision, it’s easy for them to assume you’re not doing anything. Your value may be questioned along the way and it’s easy to become deflated. Jump up and down and scream about what you’re doing in as many ways as possible – talk about how the small things add up to the bigger vision. Use your marketing automation solution to run internal campaigns, and SHOW them what you're up to. Share reports and results in as many ways and to as many internal influencers as possible.
- “Segment” your internal audiences. Every group that will be impacted by this change has a different take on “what’s in it for me.” Tailor your messages when having the tough conversations. When talking to executives and sales/marketing leaders, talk in terms of revenue. Campaign Managers? Talk about cool things they can do and making them look good. Sales Operations? Focus on efficiency and data to make their jobs easier. Want to really impress them? Create your own internal personas and use them to plan your internal PR campaign content - then show them how they can do it for their own customers.
- Be Ready to Dig Up Some Dirt. When you implement something as foundational as marketing automation, you’re bound to bring bigger organizational challenges to the surface – such as core customer data integrity issues or massive sales and marketing alignment challenges. It’s critical to bring these issues up and try to help solve them, but communicating the problems in an effective and tactful manner that doesn’t “throw people under the bus” is the first step. People don’t like to hear that things they’ve done aren’t working, so the WAY you communicate the problems is almost as important as the SOLUTIONS you come up with. That being said, never be afraid to talk about the hard stuff, and if you need help justifying your findings, use benchmarking data and industry research to back you up.
For the other experienced Topliners out there - what are your tips for navigating the tricky waters of change management?