Change Management: The Key to Successful Marketing Process

Digital marketing is a double-edged sword for B2B marketers making it a bigger part of their marketing mix. On the one side, digital is more targetable, addressable, and measurable than traditional channels like advertising, promotions, and tradeshows. Online, marketing now has more data to help them “know” more about prospects and buyers. On the other hand, the options available in the marketing mix have exploded and executives want to hold marketing more accountable for program results and campaign spend. Given these turbulent times, marketing challenges increase exponentially and marketing automation moves from a “nice to have” to “essential” investment. But technology implemented without a clear understanding of process typically gets many marketers into hot water. Face it, many of us have tremendous experience running campaigns and programs, but little experience with the change management needed to move process from ad hoc to repeatable and disciplined.

The August quarterly MOCCA meeting looked a little closer at the marketing operations community experience implementing process. Brenda Kring, Director of Demand Generation for CyberSource (who hosted the meeting) and Membership and Content Chair for the MOCCA steering committee, presented the results from the July association survey on marketing process. The audience then listened to a panel share their stories on how change management impacts processes, automation, applications and people and talk about the specific challenges each experienced rolling out automation. The conversation and questions reinforced for me how minor a role technology selection plays in operationalizing marketing and how automating poor process only results in long term problems.

Here are a few of the findings from the survey that stood out:

1) Process is important, but not approached in a systematic way. Of the 36 members who responded, 2/3 said they only apply process rigorously in a few key areas. Just 6% said they had a “very process-oriented culture” where they worked. Of those who implemented process, 2/3 said they did not use a formal methodology or defined their own as they went along.

2) Top management must push change. 44% of respondents said the key factor that led to a successful implementation top executives drive change from the top. 30% said getting stakeholder buy-in was essential. This underlines how people is the essential ingredient in change management, and marketing is no exception to this rule.

3) Marketing operations wants more accountability in process change. Almost 80% of respondents said their experience with process change was neutral or unsuccessful. Integrating accountability – making sure folks adhere to the new process or changed state – was the change 29% of respondents said they would make in retrospect. (This would also relieve executive management from spending times getting the troops lined up and marching in the right direction.)

(A few statistics about this group of respondents:  72% hail from the tech industry, 61% are in firms over 1000 employees, and 53% work at companies that earned $1 billion or more in revenue — so a very interesting sampling, especially to my research.)

If you’d like to see more information about the survey, check out the MOCCA and look up the Q3 meeting. I’d be interested to hear what you think are the top issues that keep marketers from implementing process successfully. What do you think achieves – or holds back – success in marketing process automation and change management?

(Disclosure: I back-dated this post to correspond closer to the timing of the meeting.  Sorry folks, just so much to do!)

One Response to “Change Management: The Key to Successful Marketing Process”

  1. Adam Needles Says:

    Hi, Laura. This is a great post and interesting data.

    This is very consistent with some recent conversations I’ve had and research I’ve seen. In fact, I was having this conversation with the guys at The Annuitas Group just a week ago as they were sharing their experiences with clients successes and failures in driving change.

    One of the major opportunities I think the marketing automation community needs to embrace is helping B2B marketers understand two points: a.) how the B2B buyer has changed over the past 5-10 years and, subsequently how this has shifted sales/marketing roles and b.) how they need to re-organize their demand generation and lead management strategies to this new environment, especially focusing on ‘getting found’ and responding to ‘buyer pull.’

    Technology, alone, can’t help you re-orient. You first have to change your strategy and culture. Once you’ve done this, you’re set up for your marketing automation platform to help you scale the new set of mass ‘one-to-one’ dialogue sessions you need to be having with B2B buyers and the subsequent, targeted lead nurturing you need to be doing. But without the pre-planning and change management piece, you’ll have a system that only amplifies the flaws in your strategy.

    Great blog piece.

    I’d like to add that we’re trying to do our part at Silverpop, which is why we recently launched B2B Marketing University — a vendor-neutral, product-pitch-free series to educate B2B marketers about this ‘brave new world’ of B2B marketing.

    I hope your blog readers will put this on their calendar and join us when we’re in a city near them:

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