You Complete Me: How Marketing Can Boost Change Management Outcomes

In previous blogs, we highlighted six questions common to successful marketing and change management initiatives and common communication requirements across the five stages of audience journeys in adopting change. Now we want to go into the tactical implications of those communication requirements for change management.

There is a trope in love stories and RomComs of one character professing love for another through the words “you complete me.” Like many clichés, it has currency because it’s grounded in an experienced truth: In successful relationships, each partner possesses attributes that shore up weaknesses in the other so that together they are both stronger. That’s how it is with marketing and change management.

As we discussed previously, the similarity of the audience journey in the ADKAR framework to the customer decision-making journey is in the key communication considerations within each framework. Based on this foundation, marketing can help “complete” change management by offering communication best practices and ideas for each stage.

AWARENESS. Communications must highlight the need, bringing to light the pain that needs to be addressed. To be compelling, communication of that pain must be both credible and empathetic.

Examples of marketing communications at this stage:

  • Emails and presentations that explain the change in terms of its impact on all team members, coming from executive leaders
  • FAQs that capture and provide honest answers to real questions likely on the minds of team members

DESIRE. Communications must define the proposed change as the solution to the need, i.e., the best way to relieve the pain. To be successful, these communications must reach the “heart” and the “mind” of the audience by appealing to emotions and logic.

Examples of marketing communications at this stage:

  • Case studies of early, quick “wins” that highlight the benefits realized through the change
  • Infographics presenting the need for change and its potential benefits in simple, visual terms

KNOWLEDGE. Communications must create a solid understanding of the world after the change, in contrast with the current state. To be effective, these communications must make the case that the future state is close at hand and that the path to get there is very simple.

Example of marketing communications at this stage:

  • How-to videos and one-page quick-reference guides that make the path to implementation seem easy; brevity and visuals take priority over words and detailed use cases

ABILITY. Communications must minimize the perceived effort involved in change and reduce friction to take the first step. Successful communications at this stage offer a helping hand—not condescending but by providing clear, simple guidelines that encourage the audience to move down the path.

Examples of marketing communications at this stage:

  • Training materials and tools that provide comprehensive information about how to accomplish current tasks in the new state and instill confidence that change can be achieved
  • Gamification that turns mundane change into activities that confer status or create excitement for team members

REINFORCEMENT. Last, but definitely not least, communications must continue to celebrate the benefits delivered. Many change initiatives fail because they are thought of as a “one and done” proposition in which a single, intense effort suffices. Instead, the initiatives need to be promoted over an extended time period to bring along laggards and solidify the changes already made by early adopters.

Examples of marketing communications at this stage:

  • Success stories/testimonials highlighting the benefits achieved and improvements gained, not only in quantitative terms but in human, emotional terms
  • Awards to bring attention to change-driven achievements and, in the process, elicit feelings of aspiration and potentially competitiveness

Here’s the bottom line: if you’re not thinking about change management like a marketer and marketing like a change management leader, you probably missing something that could elevate the impact of your efforts.

Lead Gen Budget Allocation…Zig When Others Zag

MarketingSherpa recently published the results of a survey that queried marketers on their expected budget allocations for various lead generation activities. Most of the focus among those who have picked up on this data has been on the increased budget for digital activities—in particular, social. The data does indeed tell an interesting story about the overwhelming trend in marketing to move away from traditional outbound demand generation tools towards inbound tools like social, SEO, and content marketing. From a practitioner’s perspective, however, I take something else away from the data: if I thought my audience might be receptive, I’d be overweighting to direct mail and paid search.

Sometimes in marketing it’s worth following the trends—not because they are trends but because they have become trends on the basis of positive reinforcement. SEO falls squarely into this category. There are times, though, when a trend develops out of wishful thinking and the fear of being left behind. While social absolutely has its merits and is a valuable tool for certain strategic situations, as a lead generation tool, I’d say the jury is still out.

And that brings me back to direct mail and paid search. Given the choice between marketing where all your competitors are and marketing where they are not, I’ll go with the road less traveled, zigging when others zag. We marketers spend much time, effort, and money trying to craft creative that gets our messages noticed. What if you put yourself in a position to be noticed simply be being the only piece of substantive mail on your target’s desk or the top sponsored link in a search? I’m not advocating ignoring the social channel at all, but sometimes zigging can deliver a big return.

The Mobile Marketing Opportunity of Behavioral Routines

An article recently posted on the Mobile Marketer web site urges marketers to think longer term about what they can and should be doing to nurture a relationship with someone who clicks on their ad from a mobile device. While I certainly agree with all of the advice (and assertions of missed opportunity) in the article, I think that this doesn’t push far enough. There’s something more that should added to marketers’ thinking about interactions with customers and prospects on their mobile devices: routine behaviors.

Some time ago, I signed up to receive Groupon daily offers and, as a result, wake up every day to find my Groupon email waiting for me in my inbox. And every day, I read the email. I’ve probably bought 2 or 3 things in the 18 months I’ve been subscribed, but that lack of conversion hasn’t stopped me from checking that email every day. The reason? It’s part of my daily routine. Wake up, make breakfast, check email—including that day’s email from Groupon. The combination of the variety of the offers, the programmed consistency of delivery, and the fact that I always have my mobile device on hand has ingrained checking that email into my morning behavior.

While it may not be the case that every marketer pursuing every type of customer should think in terms of establishing a presence in the audience’s daily routine, the increasing ubiquity of mobile devices makes it an opportunity every marketer should be considering. To aid in this consideration, below are some scenarios that would make “behavior integration” a strategy worth pursuing:

  • A highly competitive battle for mind share and audience attention
  • A need to expand the target audience’s understanding of the range of product, services, or solutions offered
  • Under-utilization of a rich collection of thought leadership resources

In any of these scenarios—or, most of all, in environments in which more than one of these scenarios are combined—a strategy to foster a behavioral routine that leverages the particular usage profile of mobile devices is worth exploring.