You and your marketing team have become fixated on some grand scheme to expand and revitalize your content marketing strategy. Maybe you're constructing a new content hub or have a blueprint for making materials more internally valuable to the organization. Or perhaps you've got something even more radical up your sleeve.
The problem with these kinds of extreme shake-ups stems from a change management perspective: You have about five different departments, 10 different team leads, and 20 company policies to navigate between if you're going to have any chance at succeeding. What often happens next is a process of reduction, where after foreseeing many potential obstacles, you and your team pare back your plans in favor of something easier or quicker.
But what if there was a way for marketers to help lead their organizations from the inside? A process in which a single team with a grand vision could develop plans and partnerships, which all flourished into company-wide change without blowback of any kind. This is where change management for marketing can help.
Image attribution: Mathias Jensen
Recognizing the Struggle
The biggest challenge with change management projects comes down to the most fundamental part of your team: your staff.
This means that before your marketing team rolls out any kind of big initiative—whether it's a training program to improve the technical literacy of your marketers, a new cross-team content campaign, or a rebranding mission—your biggest obstacle, first and foremost, will be motivating your team.
"Providing value to your end audience before asking for value can be very powerful," explains Caleb Gonsalves, Skyword's director of brand strategy. "But it also has to have a purpose."
That's why developing a vision is the fundamental first step in any sort of change. But before you can move forward, you need to be able to succinctly and clearly explain what your organization will look like in the future if your vision is executed. Some questions your employees will want answers to are how these changes will influence daily operations—will things become easier or faster?—how much it'll all cost, and how this vision will serve your audience more effectively.
The key here is understanding that what your team perceives as value may not be understood as valuable by your other teams. So if your vision is going to motivate your staff, it needs to be tailored to your internal audience. But who is that audience, specifically?
"Part of the first conversations to have with someone (about your vision) is who in the organization will benefit from this," said Dan Baptiste, Vice President of Brand Partnerships at Skyword. "It's knowing what people might be pro and what people might block, and getting them into a room together."
Baptiste and Gonsalves have both worked on a number of large change projects to roll out new content marketing strategies for large-scale businesses. And from those experiences, they both shared similar sentiments: That bringing your vision to a small group of stakeholders is helpful, but finding champions for your vision within those groups is critical.
"I find that when people try to just push a big idea to a large group of people without those first conversations, those teasers, that's when they get the most pushback," Gonsalves explained. "But often the smoothest transitions happen when leadership hears about an idea so often from management that it feels like it was their own in the first place."
Creating change champions is a two-step process. You first have to identify a key player in the organization who could help or hurt your initiative and understand what it is they want, specifically. From there, it's your job to define an actionable objective based on your vision that this stakeholder can take on, and to provide them with any information they may need to advocate or accomplish that objective.
When you've done this process with a few key stakeholders, you end up in a very healthy place from a project management standpoint: You have a unified vision that's broken out into a handful of actionable objectives, with a team of potential project managers who are ready to take control of those parts. It is these champions who can then do the work of rolling the vision out to their segments of the team, saving you the trouble of trying to pitch a big idea to a large, resistant group.
And of course the best combination of this process is making sure your champions truly believe in the brand mission they're imparting throughout their company and that they have the resources to turn these ideals into results.
For Baptiste and Gonsalves, this manifests as a strong belief in content marketing and scalable, sustainable storytelling as the most significant way of creating value and making connections with audiences. In their roles, they've seen this change in-action through Skyword360's vision for content marketing technology which gives marketers the tools they to embrace an evolving content-centric marketing landscape and create the extraordinary experiences even on a global level.
Image attribution: Lance Anderson
3 Steps for Change
Executing a large-scale digital marketing transformation at your business is going to be a slow, maybe even frustrating, process. But as long as you're continually building a foundation under your team while moving toward a clear goal, your hard work will pay off. "Always be building toward a use case," Baptiste reinforced. "Change is your hammer, but you need a nail for it to be useful."
But before you get started building your own change initiatives, let's revisit these three important steps:
- Construct a vision. A good vision statement is succinct, precise, and should answer this fundamental question: What does our brand or organization look like if we're able to successfully pull off this change?
- Build coalitions. You can't demonstrate value unless you know what your peers consider to be valuable. Listen closely to needs, build objectives based on stakeholder interests, and then educate these small groups of champions continually.
- Give the idea away. One person trying to force large-scale change rarely gets very far. But when that one person is surrounded by a group of motivated and well-equipped stakeholders who take ownership of a vision, that idea is more likely to leave a lasting impression and inspire your other employees. Support and educate, and then be ready to take a step back and coordinate while your champions lead their respective teams toward tackling objectives.
Change management isn't easy, but you don't have to tackle it alone. Content marketers are poised to be excellent in this practice because so much of what we already produce is meant to be educational and communicative. Take that same energy for supporting your audience and turn it inward—you may be surprised what digital marketing transformation may come as a result.
To learn more about how Skyword360 helps enterprise brands grow their marketing efforts and deliver exceptional content experiences, schedule a demo.
Featured image attribution: Maik Fischer