Marketing Strategy

Ask the Experts: Implementing Change to Foster a Culture of Content and Collaboration

By September 21, 2016 No Comments

“I love undergoing large-scale organizational changes,” said no one ever.

Why? Because organizational change, at both mid-size and enterprise companies, is often complicated and painful. Even dealing with small levels of change management can cause difficulties.

Nevertheless, many content operations need to change. With disjointed customer experiences, confused messaging, and misaligned teams, restructuring the content operation can be marketing’s answer to finally escaping chaos—and discovering revenue-driven results.

While we can’t take away all the difficulties—any organizational change worth its salt will always take time and effort—we can help minimize the complexity and maximize the benefits.

Here is what our panel of marketing experts had to say about successfully and seamlessly managing change for the marketing org.

In your experience, what factors lead to successfully managing and implementing change in an organization, i.e., implementing new processes and technologies, developing a culture of content and collaboration, etc.?

Ask-the-expert-joe-chernov

We’ve made a wholesale shift in our marketing strategy. We’ve gone “all in” on an account-based marketing model. The biggest challenge is that there’s no “Definitive Guide to ABM” off of which we can model our program. We’re literally inventing the model as we go. For all the eye-rolling the glut of marketing guides have engendered, the truth is, their value is made clear by their absence.

Specifically, the most challenging aspect of ABM is that it requires much more than sales/marketing alignment. It demands sales/marketing “integration.” We meet with our BDR team and literally hand-select accounts that we’re going to pursue, and then orchestrate together a communications cadence comprised of sales plays and marketing plays. It’s incredibly bespoke. Doing that at scale is challenging.    Ask-the-expert-carlos-hidalgo

I believe the biggest challenge that is faced by B2B marketing organizations, in terms of content, is there’s a lack of understanding of the buyer and their purchase process. So many organizations are producing content, but they are not truly content marketers. This is evidenced by the lack of success metrics around content as shown by my firm ANNUITAS and the study put out each year by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

So when organizations try to develop a “content strategy” without any insight into their buyers (and keep in mind in most time it’s multiple people in a buying committee), they struggle and would be better off not putting in the time, money or resources.     Anthony Kennada, VP, Marketing, Gainsight

I’m fortunate to work at an organization with no shortage of gifted writers or incredible perspectives to share. At Gainsight, we build products and facilitate community for the Customer Success industry. Our own Customer Success Managers come to Gainsight with the expectation of serving as both champions of their customers as well as thought leaders and contributors to the Customer Success conversation. Add in a CEO who likes to write and a never ending list of marketing campaigns to execute on, and all of a sudden, you’ve got busy skies requiring air traffic control.

Our biggest challenge is ensuring that we’re able to distribute all of the great content that our team and partners are creating, while both (a) executing on our marketing programs that ultimately fill our funnel, and (b) do not overwhelm our database of prospects and customers. It’s a difficult proposition, especially in early and evangelical markets where the need to exchange and process content is paramount.     Ask-the-expert-sam-osborn

Our target audience can be somewhat fluid, and tends to chase successes from the sales team. Our biggest challenge is getting executive buy-in on a content strategy and then being allowed to execute on it without pivots.    

Widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo – a conviction that current systems are not just suboptimal, but hurting the ability to do business. This creates urgency. A Content Operations group with determination, influence, and vision—and the ability to drive and execute change.

You need great project managers and content curators on that team, and a good dose of technical skills for developing the tools to manage and measure content. VP-level sponsors who will advocate for the program; committed director-level partners across the commercial organization who will contribute resources; and individual-contributor partners around the globe to provide a street-level view of the truth and execute on change.     Ask-the-expert-dennis-shiao

In web analytics, we look at a metric like “time on site” and believe that a higher value is better. But what if the visitor scrambled to find what she wanted, kept trying at it, then gave up and left? To draw an analogy to content, I can look at influenced opportunities and pipeline for an eBook, but that may not paint the entire picture. If a person read an eBook along the journey of becoming a customer, we give positive attribution to the eBook. But what if it served to prolong the sales cycle?

Or, what if the user read the first page, closed it in disgust, then purchased your product anyway? As creators of content, we miss out on qualitative feedback like this. We simply associate “opportunity influenced” with “good.” I’d love to have a system that helps me collect this sort of reader feedback at scale. There are really three factors that lead to business transformation at a company:

  1. CEO Sets the Priority. It is the CEOs job to keep the management team focused on initiatives that will move the needle for the business. Without the buy-in from above, you’ll be hard pressed to find the resources cross-functionally that you’ll need to create change.
  2. Create a Shared Vision. Put together the cross-functional committee (once each functional leader is bought in) to put the project plan together. Use a RACI Model to determine roles and responsibilities across each part of the project.
  3. Measure, Adapt and Report. Ensure that you can quantify the impact of each new process as it’s rolled out across the organization. Hold an exceptions meeting on a weekly basis when the metrics fall below or (well) above the forecast for the week. Report on your learnings across the entire business as transparency catalyzes the change to all who hear it.

We’re working on a similar transformation project today in partnership with our Sales Operations team. I’m finding that without the data, our intention of creating any behavioral change will certainly fall short.     Ask-the-expert-ardath-albee

For my clients, the most common challenge is lack of cross-functional buy-in and silos of teams hanging onto control of their perceived turf. The problem with this is that we’re supposed to be sharing a united story with our buyers and customers. It’s hard to get this right when teams are off doing their own thing without visibility or coordination with others who are interacting with the same audience.

Kelsey Loughman

About Kelsey Loughman

Kelsey is the former Sr. Content Marketing Manager at Kapost. She oversaw the Marketeer blog, created amazing eBooks, and inspired marketers to create more advanced strategies. See what she's up to @Kay_Lockman.