Marketing is in a state of constant flux. In the past decade we have witnessed big changes in marketing, with a shift from print to digital, from post to email, from desktop to laptop and from laptop to tablet. Trends including mobile marketing, the social revolution, Big Data and more have revolutionised marketing.
Equally we’ve seen a shift in job roles and skills towards a focus on insight, customer experience and data science and we now have an abundance of technology to give us more intelligence and information about our customers than ever before. Yet too often organisations struggle with inefficiencies and make vital decisions about their future profitability using data that does not tell the whole story.
Fortune 500 companies have a myriad of ERP, CRM, finance and HR systems creating database headaches and dangerous silos of data. Even the SMB market has multiple disparate technologies with different experts and departments taking ownership of their systems and multiple cloud-based, SaaS technology is helping to create “cloud-silos” for even the smallest of businesses. A shortage of necessary skills is also leading to the decline of some organisations’ ability within marketing to respond, to make changes and be agile.
These factors can all affect the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing. If competitors are doing things better it can make the difference between market dominance and the complete failure of the business. Many large enterprises face collapse if they do not adopt digital changes and new, emerging technology fast enough.
With such a massive evolution across the marketing landscape, the way we market to our customers cannot remain the same. Staying ahead of the curve and keeping agile is the key to marketing success. However, as marketers we’re often stifled by an inflexible business culture, restricted to doing things the way they have always been done. Although a marketing transformation is necessary, it can often seem to be too much of a mountain to climb.
Marketing Transformation: Defining Your Vision
Albert Einstein once famously defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. If change is to happen there must be a clear, results-orientated vision and a willingness to make bold decisions to dismantle old processes and get company-wide buy-in to a Marketing Transformation project.
The vision should encompass five key elements of transformation:
To succeed in achieving transformation, it is vital to involve other departments, consider technology, people and processes and be prepared to traverse through unfamiliar territory, possibly even undertaking roles and functions not in your job description.
The Vision Statement
Marketing Transformation cannot happen unless the organisation has a clear idea of what change looks like. It is vital that everyone – particularly departmental heads and decision-makers – can understand the vision. Your vision statement should set out a realistic, credible, attractive future that is aligned to core organisational strategy. The vision should be:
- Focused not fluffy
- Clear not ambiguous
- Complete not partial
- Feasible not unachievable
There are several pitfalls to avoid. Take a look at these examples of vision statements:
Our vision is to be a customer-centric organisation.
What’s wrong with this?
- The statement lacks focus
- There is ambiguity and the statement is open to interpretation
Our vision is to develop a customer-centric, communications programme that fulfils customer needs by exploiting multi-channel dialogue. We will do this with high-quality engagement, personalised creative and fostering a relationship based on mutual reward.
What’s wrong with this?
- The statement is riddled with ambiguity and is full of marketing jargon
- It does not define a specific goal or end point
Our vision is to deliver real-time personalisation.
What’s wrong with this?
- There is no explanation of what the organisation expects to achieve
- There is no reason given for the need for personalisation in real time
An effective vision statement….
Our vision is to increase online sales by 35% in two years by intelligently intervening in the customer journey. We will do this by adopting a customer-centric, product recommendation strategy.
This is clear, concise and provides the business objective, how it will be done and why.
Now that you have developed your vision for Marketing Transformation and defined it clearly in a statement that everyone can understand and get behind, the next step is to analyse the five key elements of transformation.
Before you decide to change, you need to know where you are now. Be brutally honest and base your assessment on hard evidence and metrics. You’ll need to analyse the current situation relating to all five of the key elements of transformation, find reasons why things are as they are and clearly and concisely articulate your findings on each of the five key elements of transformation:
Process – consider your marketing process from end to end. What elements are carried out manually and which ones are automated? Where could more or better automation help? In some cases it may be a question of identifying processes that have become overly complex or time consuming and designing ways of smoothing those processes. Look at the marketing process in each channel, from real world store to web, email to telesales. Is there consistency? Could more integration improve things?
People – assess how current job roles contribute to the marketing effort, taking into account the mix of roles in teams and line management reporting. Where are the skills gaps and the bottlenecks? How best can you develop people so that they are fit for the roles required, while meeting their personal objectives for development?
Data – data underpins decision-making and poor quality data will hamper any attempts at transformation. Review where data is held, who ‘owns’ it, the quality of the data and how well it interoperates between systems. Perhaps the organisation holds data that you did not know about that could be used for marketing purposes.
Technology – review the tools you have available. Look carefully at what the technology can actually do for you – there may be capabilities you have not yet exploited. Do other departments have technology that marketing could tap into? How well are systems integrated?
Culture – any marketing transformation initiative must take account of corporate culture and align with wider organisational strategies and the vision for the business as a whole. The decision-making process and support structures available around marketing initiatives need to be flexible and agile to achieve transformation. Collaboration across the business is key.
Marketing Transformation is not just about getting the technology right. With a solid understanding of the five key elements for transformation and through careful planning – which is not always easy – you can ensure that all bases are covered before looking at sourcing any technology or additional skills:
- By analysing the data you can identify gaps that need to be filled. If there is a skills gap, you can identify early on any training or budget that needs to be devoted to the project
- By analysing cross-departmental cultures you can identify points of resistance and potential congestion and plan to either remove or navigate around them
By assessing existing processes you can more clearly identify far-reaching efficiency benefits