As marketers, we deal with a lot of change. The B2B marketing world is exploding with touch points, channels and marketing technology, just to name a few blasts of change.
We need to navigate toward creating more content, generating more leads and achieving more results. Even our customer buying process has changed. Our customers are moving deeper into their buying process before they need to directly engage with us or our sales team. But consumers aren’t the only ones who have changed; companies have changed too.
According to Adobe’s Digital Roadblock report, published earlier this year, “64% of marketers expect their role to change over the next year, and over 81% expect changes over the next three years.” Also, marketers cite a lack of training in new marketing skills and an inability for their organizations to adapt as key roadblocks to becoming the marketers they aspire to be.
A new study from Econsultancy finds that the majority senior marketers believe the most important soft skill to develop is the “ability to embrace change.”
I get to talk to lots of marketers in my role at MECLABS, and it’s clear to me that most of the leaders and marketers I speak with want to embrace change and adapt. But how do we do it?
Remember that attitude is everything
Change management starts with you. If you change how you think, you will change how you feel and what actions you take. Consider this statement from Charles Swindoll: “Life is 10% of what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” Be the change you want to make in your company.
Develop a clear vision with a shared purpose
There’s an old proverb that says, “Without vision, my people perish.” Your company needs you and your marketing leadership more than ever. Work to define a picture of yourself, your team and your organization. How will you serve customers? Focus on what you can do to navigate changes. What are the new roles that you’ll need to play to help your organization adapt?
Here’s a helpful post from HBR.com on how to develop a shared purpose.
Build your blueprint and plan to change
I’ve watched too many companies make half-hearted plans. I’ve then watched these same companies make so many knee-jerk shifts in their plans that they accomplish little and their people become cynical and emotionally disengaged.
You can prevent “change fatigue.” If you’re going to plan, dig in and make it count. This means that you’ll need to invest more time in upfront planning for what’s coming and getting your team ready, but it will be worth it.
For example, if you’re going to invest in technology, you need to clearly map the processes within that technology.
What are the essential processes that the marketing organization handles today? What should change in order make the marketing team more efficient and drive higher performance?
Set clear and realistic milestones
How will you know you are heading in the right direction, and how will you prove that to the rest of the team?
Change management almost always take longer than we think. When you’re managing change, be realistic about how much time it will take and what you’ll accomplish.
I’ve talked to leaders in companies who’ve made changes they thought would take six months, only to find they’ve invested two years, and they’re still not done. How long it will take depends on what you’re doing — changing a company culture takes longer than implementing CRM or marketing automation software.
It’s the leaders who set realistic milestones that get their teams commitment and buy-in to what’s required to drive the results.
Invest in yourself, and invest in training and educating your team
Training can be a catalyst for transformation. What have you done to improve your skills and grow? Think about the training and education your team will need to develop the skills and manage the changes you need to make.
Many companies don’t invest in training their team, and if they do, they’re not investing enough in the development of their team’s skills. Start now, and make training and educating yourself and your team a priority.
Education needs to go beyond the marketing team to the executive team and the rest of the company. Help them understand the changes that need to take place and the impact they’ll have on the company.
Get comfortable accepting that change will happen
This requires simply accepting what is. We are deluded if we think that everything is going to be the same tomorrow as it is today — change can happen in a split second.
If you know change is coming, consider it a privilege. Too many people don’t have that luxury. Help your team be prepared that changing is here, it’s coming and it’s inevitable. Accept that if change management were easy, everyone would be doing it.
I’d love to hear what’s worked for you when managing change or some of the ways you’ve supported your company making changes. Post your experiences in the comments section below.
Photo attribution: Francesco Corallo
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