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Become a marketing-led organisation

Change is the dominant fact of life in every organisation today. And the ability to master and exploit change has become one of the most sought-after management skills. This is particularly true if you intend to be a marketing-led organisation, where the very tempo of change is constantly quickening.

Over the years I have worked with many sales led organisations. In a lot of cases, these businesses have been successful and held in high regard by their existing client base.

The need for marketing in an organisation like these often stems from a need to diversify to ensure growth into the future. Perhaps existing clients have decreased their spend, perhaps there has been a change in the industry or marketplace that has impacted demand, or maybe clients are just getting better at doing things themselves.

If your revenue has traditionally been reliant on a few key clients renewing their contracts with you year on year, or the few upsells that the business is able to secure, the transition to a marketing-led strategy can be an overwhelming one. Even when an organisation has hired a specialist to guide them, this process is still often perceived as complicated, expensive and exhausting, with many change management hurdles to be overcome along the way.

So how do you transition from a sales-led organisation to a marketing-led organisation?

Pace yourself

The most important step in this journey is the acknowledgement that this change will not happen overnight. Even if you have hired an external specialist to solve this problem, it takes time to educate them on your businesses and for them to create the new path or strategy an be able to show the results necessary for you to become relaxed with a new idea. Effective communication requires reinforcement, and it is only through continual education and demonstration across the whole organisation that hearts and minds begin to change.

Have a plan

There is a famous saying that “the man on the top of the mountain didn’t fall there”. Introducing marketing into an organisation that’s previous exposure has been limited to brochures and a basic website requires two plans: a marketing plan and a plan for communicating ideas and building advocacy internally. Typically, shifting priorities and variables beyond our control will result in variations to these plans, but it’s important to start with the end in mind, and have a vision for the steps required to get there.

Take one step at a time

Journeys are always achieved one step at a time. Changing or enhancing an organisation’s strategy should be a journey of progressive change. Give the whole business visibility of what the end state looks like, but don’t overwhelm them with every minor detail from the outset. Instead, unfold information as it is necessary along the way, share insights, take time to reflect on how far you’ve come and shine a light on each next step in the journey as the business becomes ready to take it.

Slowly replace something with something else

Introducing a new way of thinking or a set of processes that haven’t previously been embedded in the business is most easily achieved by slowly replacing something with something else. Focus first on marketing tools that will offer an additional benefit to the people using them, followed gradually by more data-driven, sophisticated marketing initiatives. A good example is by replacing custom written prospecting emails with basic templates and automation, introducing subtle new methods of lead generation and making simple design changes to existing collateral. As the company becomes more comfortable, you can then start introducing more complex marketing initiatives that will offer a higher return.

Remember the overall objectives

When attempting to transition an organisation from sales-led to marketing-led, the biggest risk we face is that key stakeholders will lose belief in the vision and potentially become misaligned. Take the time to understand the company’s objectives and ensure that your recommendations both play into and contribute to them. That way we can guide our organisations from the bottom of the mountain to the top successfully, not from the bottom of the mountain to somewhere unrelated altogether.

Questions or comments? Or ready to take the leap and make the change? I’d love to hear from you!

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