Change Management: The Missing Link in Your Demand Generation Strategy

  |  August 20, 2014   |  Comments

The rate of change in the digital marketing world today is so fast that keeping up doesn't just mean using new tools anymore - you must fully understand change management in order to succeed.

In 2008 we watched 8.33 million hours per day of YouTube videos. This year, consumers watched more than 200 million hours per day of video just via YouTube, and sent more than 500 million tweets per day. That's a 2,400 percent increase in the amount of video we watch just on YouTube alone.

This is not a normal rate of change, and it's had a major effect on the way consumers digest content on and their expectations of what content should be. Many businesses have started to think about these changes in very small ways, such as adopting a "content" strategy, or adopting marketing automation to help manage all of their efforts. But while the adoption rates of marketing automation among the largest B2B brands rose from 25 percent to 53 percent in 12 months, less than half of those companies are even using this technology correctly. And less than 23 percent of them even use forms for lead generation on their content.

The issue here is that the rate of change is so fast, keeping up no longer means getting new tools, but understanding change management.

I was skiing in Colorado last winter with other speakers from the LeadLove conference in Denver, hosted by ReadTalk. On the slopes I had a lot of time with Carols Hidalgo, chief executive (CEO) of ANNUITAS. He and I began talking about the environment we are driving demand in and the changes taking place. He mentioned he was working on a book on change management, so I thought he would be a great person to ask some questions to about how enterprises are coping with the massive amount of change in the demand generation arena.

Mathew Sweezey: I did some research and found many companies have adopted marketing automation, yet also read a Sirius Decisions study citing 50 percent of companies who have adopted marketing automation are not seeing value. Why is this?

Carlos Hidalgo: The single biggest failure point is that marketing organizations make the technology the focal point and technology should never be the focal point. Before looking to adopt marketing automation, organizations should look to define who their customers are in terms of their challenges, how they buy, what content they consume, how they consume their content, what does their purchase path look like, etc? They can then develop content that aligns to their buyers needs and buying process, implement the right process, and then enable this with marketing automation. Automation first rarely works and only brings a marginal improvement to organizations.

MS: So you're suggesting changes need to happen in the organization first, then the technology second. Do you have any examples of this working?

CH: Yes, in fact I was speaking to Nick Panayi from CSC, where he runs the global digital marketing. We talked specifically about the need for change management in terms of B2B marketing and he recounted for me the approach and journey they have been on at CSC. As an organization, there was very little strategy, process, and skill set at CSC when he came in and over the course of the last three years they have made great advances in their demand generation discipline. They started with defining strategy and process and even before that occurred, Nick spent his first three to four months evangelizing the "what could be" approach to those in the organization to get buy-in. While he will admit they are still in the process of changing, he can see the approach of patience, process, and strategy first - in essence the change management piece being the catalyst, not the marketing automation itself.

MS: What needs to change? I hear every company saying, "We've changed, we now do social, content, and blogging."

CH: I hear this in many organizations and what has changed is that you are doing different things - the tactics - but are you really doing things differently? This is what is so important. Just adding new tactics does not mean an organization is doing anything different; there really needs to be a change. When I use the term change management in regards to B2B marketing, I am talking about a fundamental change in the way we work, the way we think, the way we market, and our corporate culture. It is a pretty big concept, which is why is takes time to occur in an organization (something that many do not want to accept). When we think about the drastic changes that have occurred with Buyer 2.0 and the approaches to buying and the incredible change, the only logical response that marketers can and should have would be to also change. This is not a tactical change, but a strategic change. Without this, there will be limited advancements and we will continue to see a big disconnect with our target buyers.

In short, if you are a business you must be aware of the environment and how fast it is changing. You must be able to keep up with the change, and not just keep up with the technologies. The technologies at this point far exceed technique, and are only being used correctly by a very small sector of the business community. It is more important for you as a business to understand the why, and not manage how you address this critical question moving forward.

In a time of such change it is the companies who can manage the changing environment, adapt, and then improve who will succeed in driving demand. Those who do not manage change correctly will over-invest in technologies, incorrectly use them, and lose valuable market share to those who do. If you'd like to learn more, Carlos and I collaborated on an e-book to give you more on the why, and the how. Good luck with your demand generation efforts, and remember change is constant, so learn to harness it.

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Mathew Sweezey

Mathew is the head of thought leadership for B2B marketing at Pardot, a Company. A consummate writer, he has been featured in numerous publications such as Marketing Automation Times, DemandGen Report, Marketing Sherpa, ZDNet, and is the author of Marketing Automation for Dummies (published by Wiley February 2014). As a speaker Mathew speaks around the world at events such as Conversion Conference, Dreamforce, SugarCon, and to companies including Microsoft, Investec, NetJets, and, to name a few.

Follow @msweezey.

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