The C-Suite’s Guide to Marketing Transformation in 2020

No matter how glamorous the glory days of Madison Avenue sound, you wouldn’t dream of going back to doing marketing the way they did it: glitzy, kitschy commercials that blanketed the airways – all three of them.

Back then, with only three TV networks and a few magazines that everyone read, you could just “spray and pray” your ads and count on revenue pouring in. But, in today’s world, if you haven’t transformed your marketing strategy much beyond a few tweaks to your SEO every time Google updates its algorithms, you’ll fall behind your competitors. In today’s world of digital everything and cognitive computing, you need a total marketing transformation to stay ahead of your competition.

Quick Takeaways:

  • Marketing transformation isn’t just a makeover – it’s a complete “paradigm shift” in strategy and execution.
  • Any transformation must shift your strategy into an agile, data-driven model that anticipates and adapts to market changes.
  • Technology is only a means to achieve the ultimate goal of marketing: showcasing the benefits your products and services will bring to your customers.

Marketing Transformation: A Paradigm Shift in Strategy, Structure, and Systems

To thrive in today’s rapidly shifting market requires a “paradigm shift” that affects every aspect of your marketing. A marketing transformation requires a radical change in the way you even think about marketing.

To succeed, your marketing transformation must go way beyond buying some cutting-edge tech, slapping a cute little chatbot on your website, and calling it a day.

It must encompass your company culture, a complete reinvention of your operating model, a restructuring of your marketing processes, marketing capabilities that can shift with every change in your market, an omnichannel approach, and to support it all – software as agile as your new organization.

Start Your Transformation with Thought Leadership

Everything rises and falls on leadership. When you begin such a massive undertaking as a marketing transformation, effective thought leadership is unquestionably the key to success.

The toughest part of marketing transformation, like any other major change, is getting your company to embrace it. An informed, steady leadership team that has the empathy to put themselves into their employees’ shoes during the change is essential for a favorable outcome.

  • See things from customers’ perspectives: One of the best ways to begin the conversation is to start with the customers’ perspective. After all, if your company is resistant to change, your customers will begin to drop off as other businesses begin to meet those customers’ needs
  • Use well-researched articles, videos, and other content to convince resisters to support the transformation: To explain these hard facts to resistant staff members – especially if some of them are in the C-suite – some internal content marketing goes a long way toward establishing your expertise in knowing what your customers will demand. Since 82 percent of decision-makers feel more positive about an organization after reading well-researched content, this step, though time-consuming, will prove well worth the effort when you bring your staff on board with this crucial change.
  • Look for inspiration from others like the stories and stats I shared in this international marketing transformation keynote:

Next, Transform Your Corporate Culture

Your marketing transformation won’t work if your company continues with a traditional corporate culture. Two factors common to traditional corporations can put a wrench in the works of your marketing transformation: top-down leadership structure and departmental silos.

  • Top-down leadership: With the requirement for fast decisions and abrupt direction changes mid-campaign when the data indicates the need, waiting to hear from the stodgy suits upstairs before you can switch gears takes time–time you don’t have. Until you can get leadership on board to trust your teams to make decisions on the fly, you won’t have the kind of agility that data-driven, rapidly changing marketing requires.
  • Siloed departments: When your sales team has little idea about what your marketing team is doing, they won’t have access to the data that indicates that a new market of eager customers has just opened up for that new widget they’re trying so hard to sell. They won’t know that 50 percent of the executives who read your latest blog post downloaded the white paper that positioned the new widget as the solution to one of their critical challenges. Similarly, your marketing team won’t have access to the feedback your field reps hear–so you can accentuate the features customers like best in your next campaign.

Use Data and Storytelling to Sell Your Transformation

Before you undergo your digital transformation, you’ll need to present some hard data to the skeptics. When you set that data into stories that show how a transformation of the way they do marketing has helped other companies like yours soar to success, they’ll be more likely to say “yes” to the changes.

It’s hard to argue with the numbers. As you make the changes that will eventually lead to your total marketing transformation, keep track of the metrics. When you see positive changes in revenue, social media likes, downloads, or subscribers, don’t keep the news to your department only.

Those changes will include more insights into your customer base. Use every digital tool at your disposal to view their experience from their perspective. Use AI and other cognitive technologies to predict when customers will encounter problems, and then be ready to solve those problems with the content, products, and services that will make their lives easier, as AdAge’s Shiv Singh advises.

Use the same content marketing skills that you use to promote your products’ benefits to tell your success story to the whole company. Don’t limit your stories to the marketing department. Find marketing transformation success stories throughout the company to build a passion for change throughout your entire organization.

Once You Have Set the Stage, Follow a Logical Plan

  • Assess the current state of your marketing strategy: If you don’t know where your strategy is now – what it has accomplished and what it hasn’t – you won’t know how to recognize success when you see it.
  • Choose your goals: What is your vision for what you want your marketing transformation to accomplish?
  • Set a strategy to get there: Create a marketing roadmap that will provide you and your teams a step-by-step guide that helps you accomplish all your goals.
  • Decide what processes to use: Lay out the processes to get to each step in your transformation strategy:
  • Choose what metrics are most important: For B2B companies, often leads are a better metric of marketing success than customers. Each business has its key performance indicators (KPIs) that it must keep track of for a truly effective transformation.
  • Decide which technology platforms to use: With a wealth of marketing software on the market, it’s important to research which tools will help your company achieve its goals.
  • Governance and control: Set the policies for each team so they know what decisions they can make on their own. With firm policies that provide guidance, decisions become easier to make, and management gains more trust in the abilities of its teams to make those decisions.
  • Choose which partners you want to work with: Many companies prefer to outsource at least some of their marketing to a specialized agency. Whether it’s content marketing, graphic design, or marketing technology (martech), outsourcing or partnering with another company to achieve your goals might yield the most return for your investment.

When you prepare your company from top to bottom to welcome a transformation in the way you do marketing, setting all the machinery in motion to achieve needed change will go more smoothly. Follow your transformation roadmap, and marketing success will come your way.

If you are ready to transform your marketing strategy, and approach, let me know. And if you are simply looking to upgrade the results from your digital experience, to get more traffic to your site with a weekly article service, check out our Content Builder services. Set up a quick consultation, and I’ll send you a free PDF version of my books. Get started today and generate more traffic and leads for your business.

Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.

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