“It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent: it is the one most adaptable to change” - Charles Darwin
What Darwin said is certainly true in our fast-moving digital marketing world driven by marketing technology (MarTech). In this article, I aim to empower you with the strategies to become the MarTech Change Agent in your organization.
I’ve put together this piece combining concepts I wrote few years ago, practical experiences gained in my MarTech consulting practice and what I’ve learned reading Winning Market Leadership: Strategic Market Planning for Technology-Driven Businesses, an excellent book by Adrian Ryans, Roger More, Donald Barelay and Terry Deutscher.
The Stages of Change Management Driven by MarTech
Few years ago, I started writing about the stages of marketing technology change management using concepts described by Kurt Lewing, a modern pioneer of organizational psychologists. Drawing from Lewing concepts and my management consulting experience I’ve learned:
Unfreezing > Moving > Re-Freezing
You will like to first define a future state, desired business outcomes and gain support in the organization before adopting any MarTech solution. This will unfreeze the status quo which will allow you to adopt the new technology and only after you can freeze into new process to realize value. Sounds simple, but it’s easier said than done.
Define Your Business Imperatives and Build Your Plan
Your MarTech stack must support your modern marketing strategy (Content Marketing, ABM and Demand Generation Strategies are common examples). You must strategically plan how that will work and this may require profound changes in many parts of your organization.
A solid plan considers the following business imperatives
Future state of the organization
Examples: a shared global center of excellence for marketing and operations
Example: cloud CRM and a marketing automation platform
Business units and leaders involved
Examples: marketing leadership, sales leadership and IT
What happens without planning and alignment
For example, both Marketing and Sales teams need to use the cloud CRM but the subscription cost is not clearly split.
Another common example is Sales needing to use an email outreach tool while Marketing is already paying for an expensive marketing automation platform and there is no real business case why the company should have both tools.
Change Agents Must Understand People and Why They Change
People change in crisis
Your MarTech revenue stack can easily create a crisis in your organizations. All the cloud tools you are subscribed to can create confusion and many often have ambiguous ownership between sales, marketing and IT.
According to Fry and Killing’s Crisis Curve, the best performance occurs surprisingly in reactive mode. If the need to change is not highly visible there is no perception of urgency. Ideally, it’s this time when strategic decisions should be made to anticipate problems. Remember also, that highly skilled professionals are often abandoning organizations in crisis thus lowering the performance. The only situation in which rapid tech implementation and low resistance are likely to occur is when all teams, executives and hands-on marketing technologists believe that it is a crisis situation imminent. Getting to this awareness stage may take a long time and might be too late sometimes.
Roles & Responsibilities Change
The roles & responsibilities of both the sales and the marketing teams may need to change in a major way in your future organization state.
What goes into a new such role? Aligning organization, policies, and procedures to encourage and enable people to carry out their new role
Evaluation and Control
Recruiting and Selection
Organization and Deployment
The Questions MarTech Change Agents Should Ask
What questions need to be addressed in detailing your MarTech plan?
Who must change? In most cases the major changes to implement the new marketing strategies have to be made by a Marketing leader or a joined leader for both Sales & Marketing teams.
What must they change? The sales teams have previously tried to follow-up with everyone in the database, but now they have to focus on marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and approach only those accounts who match the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) identified by the scoring capabilities of the marketing automation platform.
Who is affected by the change? Your new marketing strategy can have significant effects on other employees in the company, and also outside the company, including existing customers and partners. For example, teams like customer success can also benefit from onboarding nurture campaigns. Your partners can work more closely together with you via unified channel marketing platforms.
When must the key steps occur? If the situation is at the crisis point, action must be taken virtually immediately. You must review and reduce overlapping functionality between different tools when subscription contracts come up for renewal.
What are criteria for success? Several kinds of measurement can be used:
Marketing Budget / Revenue Attributed to Marketing
Efficiency in running campaigns and scale
Staff required to manage operations
Number of marketing departments enabled by your MarTech Stack.
Cost of your MarTech Stack
What resource are required to support the new behavior? These resources can be financial (e.g. technical training budget, agency support, marketing operations budget) or non-financial (executive support, work management, project, documentation and collaboration tools) How you work can be just as important for success as what you are doing.
What resistance to the new technologies is anticipated? Will people affected by the change embrace it, or more likely, will they oppose it? What form will this opposition take? A good MarTech implementation plan must analyze where the resistance might be expected to occur, how it will express itself, and how it might be overcome. In my consulting experience resistance occurred in the following situation:
Budget is moved between IT, Sales and Marketing leaving one team short
Sales and Marketing responsibilities are rolled up in one leader who may favor one discipline over the other
Junior members of the team believe better jobs are available somewhere else with their technical skills and they don’t want to learn unpopular new tools
Senior members of the team cannot be bothered to learn new tools or perform the hands-on operations work required
Agency support is discontinued or there is a conflict between different agencies
Marketing operations teams are requested to do more work with less resources
There is no plan to clean up the marketing database so no real data-driven decision can be made
Buying multiple solutions from one MarTech platform vendor for consolidation and cost-savings reasons can lead to user frustration if the tools have mediocre performance
What reinforcement should be offered to support behavioral change? This raises the issue of reward and punishment, and, of course, financial and non-financial reinforcement. What I’ve seen work well as reinforcement is recognition for the marketing operation teams who need to be hands-on working with the new MarTech stack. Not following newly defined processes must also be punished.
What organizational support is needed? How can the company remove barriers and enable the change?For example, if you are switching to a new marketing automation platform you need to dedicate budget for a consulting partner to help with the migration. Budget must also be dedicated to train your team and allow them to attend the relevant conferences.
Change Agent’s Checklist
Finally, use this practical check-list of what you’ll need know when driving any organization changes involving your marketing technology stack.
Stakeholders: teams, leaders, expectations and business requirements
Contract start and end dates for current tools
Logins for different systems
Internal expertise and agency support
Discounts available for contract length, number of solutions or end of quarter
Training required and enablement resources
The communication of the plan is critical to winning acceptance of new technologies and motivating the behavior changes required. Plan very carefully who is the target of your communications, what is the message, timing and in which style will you announce it. The appropriate communications style to employ is a function of four factors:
The visibility of the need for the new technical capabilities
The clarity of the strategic direction
The sense of urgency in the situation
The degree of trust required between sender and receiver
Change is not easy. There is little change that can be implemented without taking many of these concepts into account. Hopefully with the insights shared here you will be in a better position to become a MarTech Change Agent enabling your company with MarTech. Tell me what you’ve seen work and what doesn’t work. If you need any help reach out and we can plan your change journey together. Macro is a MarTech and Marketing Operations consultancy based in Toronto, Canada. Companies come to Macro when they need a trusted MarTech partner in selecting tools, optimizing operations and running digital marketing campaigns. With over 8 years of experience and global capabilities there is a lot of value for our clients.
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