Marketing departments across the world buy shiny new technology products all the time. Each new tool promises limitless possibilities and profound increases in productivity or ROI, but in reality, many marketing technology purchases fail. This is simply because they are introduced without any consideration for the people, data, processes and culture within the whole organization.
Introducing new technology involves more than just buying it. In many cases, I believe the introduction of a new system should kick-start a wider marketing transformation project.
This, of course, is a daunting task. Change is hard, for many reasons.
For starters, in order for change to happen, the marketing team must have a clear, results-orientated vision, along with a willingness to dismantle old processes. Equally important is getting other departments involved. Without a companywide buy-in, you’ll struggle to make anything happen, no matter how many bells and whistles your new technology boasts.
The 5 Elements of a Marketing Transformation
Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, though. Before you decide to change, you’ll need to know the marketing maturity of your business now. This will require brutal honesty, with an assessment based on hard evidence and metrics.
Analysis of your current situation means identifying the existing status of the five key elements that are integral to any technology-driven marketing transformation project: process, people, data, technology and culture.
Let’s look at each of those elements.
Consider each aspect of your current marketing process from end to end. Which of tasks are conducted manually and which ones are automated? Could more or better automation help? Inevitably, you’ll identify processes that have become overly complicated or time-consuming (or both) and will benefit from reassessment.
Also break down the marketing process in each channel. For example, is there consistency between the in-store and online experience, or between email and telesales or customer service? Are you hindered by departmental siloes or data siloes? How would integration make things more efficient?
After assessing how current job roles contribute to the marketing effort, you’ll likely find bottlenecks and identify skills gaps. Digital transformation brings with it a need for new technologies, and for people with the ability to use the new technologies. How best can you develop people so that they are fit for the roles required while meeting their personal objectives for development?
Most of all, do you have the leadership in place — in the appropriate sectors of the business — to continue to push the transformation forward, enforce new behaviors and champion departmental projects?
Data provides the foundation for all of your decision-making — in your marketing campaigns and elsewhere. At best, poor quality data will hamper any attempts at transformation. At worst, it could be completely misleading.
Identify where your organizational data is held, who “owns” it and how up to date it is. If you are hoping to deliver that seamless multichannel or omnichannel experience that customers like so much, you will have to consider how data flows between your systems.
By analyzing the data, you can identify gaps that need to be filled. If there is a skills gap, you can identify early on any training that people need and make sure you have money in the budget to support that training.
Review the tools you have available and what your existing technology can do for you. How well are your systems integrated and how will the new technology help your digital transformation?
A survey conducted by ZDNet put business intelligence, analytics, big data and public cloud systems as the most desirable new technologies. And a report by my company, BlueVenn, found that systems capable of providing a single customer view and conducting real-time customer segmentation are among the most sought-after marketing solutions.
Any marketing transformation initiative must take account of corporate culture and align with wider organizational strategies and the overall business vision. But people are often reluctant to upset the status quo, which makes fostering cultural change often the hardest part of any project that involves deploying new systems and adopting new processes.
Collaboration across the business is key to overcoming resistance to change. By analyzing cross-departmental cultures, you can identify potential points of resistance and plan to either remove the obstacles or navigate around them.
To succeed, marketing transformation projects need to be embraced by the entire marketing team, and they need buy-in and support across the company. This is something big brands have in common: a desire for customer-centricity driven from the top.
Not every project will enjoy top-down support or companywide buy-in, so those pushing for change need to be prepared to take on unfamiliar new responsibilities and develop greater empathy for the challenges faced by colleagues in other departments. However, as the inspirational entrepreneur Jim Rohn once said, “You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.”