Change Management in the Marketing Organization

“It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent: it is the one most adaptable to change” – Charles Darwin  

The adoption of Marketing Automation Platforms (MAP) such as Act-On, Eloqua, Pardot or Marketo is transforming marketing organizations today. These systems are used to establish demand generation infrastructures to incorporate all of your marketing activities across channels and require the involvement of several departments in the organization. Managing change usually boils down to persuading people to operate in different ways within a new marketing operations structure and use a different marketing system with a different set of processes.

It helps to think through what you are doing and why you are doing it in as concrete a way as possible. If you do that, you will be better able to avoid the pitfalls and avoid becoming another organization struggling to run marketing automation.   Using the three major stages of Unfreezing – Moving – Refreezing defined by Kurt Lewin, a modern pioneer of organizational psychologist over half a century ago, I will explain the change management which marketing organizations undergo today:


#1. Unfreezing

At this stage, your organization prepares for switching to a marketing automation platform. You may be thinking there is a better way to organize your email blasts into campaigns, instead of having to manually move data from system to system. In addition, you may feel you need more extensive tracking.

Defining a Strategy

It’s very important to have a clearly defined strategy in place so you can find the right tool for the job. How can you get somewhere if you don’t know where you are going? The more clearly defined strategy you have in place, the more you will be able to use your software to its full potential and get the commitment of all stakeholders in your organization.

To make everything work together, you need help from your customer relationship management (CRM) administrators, sales operations, website developers and your creative department. At this stage action must be taken to “unfreeze” existing attitudes and behaviors so you can allow the change to occur.

It is essential to do this in order to get support for your marketing department and minimize any resistance which may occur. You can then start appraising several vendors out there (we would be glad to walk you through this process) and find the best fit. Usually, it comes down to how well these vendors integrate with what you currently have in place, the support available, ability to scale marketing operations and cost.


#2. Moving

Moving occurs during the stage in which the marketing automation platform is implemented. Usually this requires changes in organizational structure and how departments work together.  

  • Executives need to know what the analytics and reports available are and where to find them.
  • Newly Formed Marketing Operations department takes charge of managing the centralized marketing platforms for the whole organization. The marketing operations department services internal clients such as Field Marketing Managers or Product Marketing Managers with execution of programs and campaigns.
  • Aligning Sales and Marketing ensures that marketing activities tie into the sales process and to how customers buy.
  • CRM Administrators work on fully integrating the marketing automation system into the sales data. It has to be one and only data nexus.
  • The Creative Department needs to become familiar with design specifications and limitations of the system in order to build the landing page and email templates required.
  • Web Developers need to understand how marketing automation web tracking works and best methods for using forms on the website.
  • You cannot build everything in one day, so a phased approach always works best. Test pilot certain functionalities of the system and slowly add more complexity over time.

Resistance to Change

During the move you will encounter resistance from members of your organization. It is useful to understand why change is resisted:  

  • Lack of communication: People don’t understand what the MAP does and why is needed
  • Lack of acceptance of the change process: People are not involved in the decision-making process, they feel it is too much work and do not understand the concept of automation or templates.


#3. Refreezing

Changes need to become habits. Once the demand generation infrastructure is in place, action has to be taken to reinforce the changes that have occurred. New ways of executing marketing campaigns, importing leads into the system and reporting needs to be anchored into the marketing organization’s structure, culture, and recognition & reward system.

The Constant Changing World of Marketing Technologies

As a caveat, you can’t be too set in your ways. The fast-paced world of marketing technologies requires you to keep up with many new tools and systems, which will have to work together with your demand generation infrastructure.  

Modern marketers and marketing technologists have to constantly find better and faster ways of working, automate manual tasks and make systems work together. These changes have to be quickly refrozen and communicated to all stakeholders.

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