Why comms needs to be factored into your business transformation plans, right from the start
There can be few large businesses around the UK and beyond that have not already been through, or are currently going through large scale business transformation programmes. But how many have developed their transformation plans with communications factored in from the start? And how many add it as an afterthought when they are already some way down the line, having realised that change can’t happen without employee engagement? Communication is critical to any form of organisational change. Embedding clear processes around how and when you should communicate from the start will help get your transformation off to a flying start.
There are two key areas where effective comms can make a real difference to the success of a transformation programme. The obvious one is when it comes to communicating out to the rest of the business and getting employees to change behaviours. But comms can also help in bringing together cross-functional teams and getting them working more effectively towards the same goal.
Engaging your employees
Communication plays a vital role when it comes to engaging employees around a large-scale business change. If you fail to communicate your goals and how you plan to achieve them, how can you expect employees to support and adopt the changes you are implementing? Many a digital transformation program has been viewed as unsuccessful because employees have failed to fully adopt new tools and technology or processes.
So how do you engage employees? Firstly, it is vital that you understand your internal audiences. In a large organisation there will be different types of employees with their own challenges and requirements, so you will need to tailor your communications to different employees. There isn’t always a one size fits all solution.
Avoid over reliance on email and make use of existing business collaboration tools. You should always make sure you are communicating via different channels to ensure that your message has reached everyone in your organisation.
Two-way communication is crucial when it comes to engaging employees. Give your employees the opportunity to ask questions and to share their thoughts and feedback where possible. Face-to-face communication is always the best way to engage.
Louise Fisk, Communications and Marketing Director at BAE Systems suggests,
When that’s not possible you need to think about how you can use tools like video conferencing to bring people into the room.
Helping cross-functional teams work effectively
During large scale business transformation, it is often the case that teams which don’t usually work together, will have to come together and form cross-functional teams. Open and transparent communication between both leadership and team members is crucial here.
Hannah Bamberger, IT Communications Lead at Boston Consulting Group comments,
Where teams are cross-functional and often working remotely, it’s important to have transparent communications from the beginning to avoid any misunderstanding which may arise from not being able to see each other face-to-face each day and ask questions.
Matt Perry, Director at Transition15 suggests that,
Cross-functional team communications need to be built into the ways of working from the start. The mechanisms for regular communication should be agreed by the team so that they feel they are owning this process, rather than being told how they should do something.
It’s also important that leadership are clear in their goals and communicate them to their teams from the start so that they unite to achieve the same goal. A lack of communication coupled with an unwillingness to come together to work as a cross-functional team, can happen when leadership hasn’t communicated well around what is needed, and what the goals are from the beginning.
Hannah Bamberger comments,
You often end up with the wrong thing being delivered or half way through a big transformation programme you realise it isn’t going in the direction it should be. At that point it’s much harder to recommunicate and get people to change direction.
There’s a high likelihood that change will fail if you do not communicate from the start. Employees need to feel part of the change as it’s happening and you will need to support people through the change curve, which can take time. If you get this right, then any future change is likely to run more smoothly and be successful.
If communicating around change sounds like something you are currently struggling with, get in touch to arrange an employee engagement workshop, or a planning session for how to support cross-functional teams in working together more effectively.
One of the hardest things about running a business is finding the time to explore. When you think about taking some time out to just listen or read you have to battle the little voice in your head that tells you that you should be doing something ‘more productive’. There is new business to be secured, finances to angst over and a million other operational things that you can’t help but feel you ought to be doing. The thing is if you are not occasionally taking the time out to discover new things then you are depriving the business of the very things that will ensure your customers keep coming back for more.
Last Friday I took a day out to attend the inaugural ‘Confluence.’ This was an event that was all about stories and the many and varied ways in which they can be told. At the heart of it, the marketing and communications business is all about stories. Whether it’s building compelling narratives that will attract and retain customers or engaging employees to make sure they come with you on your transformation journey, everything is built around stories and our ability to tell them.
There were some exceptional speakers but my three favourites (in no particular order) were Candide Kirk, Founder and Head of Product Design at Novellic, Director, and writer Nosa Eke and Adipat Virdi, Digital Strategist and interactive storyteller. From Candide, I learnt a huge amount about increasing discoverability; Nosa was all about the power of a multi-platform approach while Adipat was inspirational around the power of storytelling to do good.
So in the name of paying things forward, here are the five most useful things I learnt from my Friday at the almost too funky Google HQ in Victoria:
Sometimes what you don’t like is more important than what you like: Apparently, Tinder takes more from your swipes to the left than it does from your swipes to the right and uses what you dismiss to build a picture of what you might like. This approach is being adopted more and more because…
Your statements about what you like are often different from reality. This is why smart platforms online are far more interested in your actions rather than your words. Candide used the example of Novellic where she compared the types of books that people chose when asked to select their ‘type’ and compared it to what they actually searched for. Apparently, a lot of people who claim to be into 20th Century literary classics and really into whodunnits and trashy romance…
People will generally pay what something is worth. There was an interesting talk by Katie Vanneck Smith and Dominic Young about different approaches to selling content on the web. Traditional subscription models essentially mean you are paying for a whole pie when you might only want a slice. Micropayments allow you to pay for the slice while a more traditional membership approach brings the added benefit of bringing you into a like-minded community
What you see depends on who you are – even if you are looking at the same thing. I was surprised to learn that Netflix will show you a different image to promote a programme or film depending on your profile. If you took the movie Titanic for example; if your profile suggests you like action adventure you might see an image of the ship sinking but if romance is more your thing then its Jack and Rose all the way. This might not surprise some people but to me, it was a reminder of just how clever and sophisticated these platforms have become
Completeness is often the key to discoverability. It is very tempting when you are completing the profile forms to set up on a platform just to focus on the compulsory stuff and ignore the optional. This is a mistake apparently. The more a platform knows about you the greater the value you hold. Also, platforms value different pieces of information differently so you need to maximise your chances of giving it the bit of information that it cares about.
The Bright team love a challenge, especially when it delivers value to us and our clients! That’s why we decided to host a hackathon on our very own website. Because if you’re going to experiment, we’d rather experiment on our marketing before rolling it out to you.
The day was spent turning ideas into business value at super-speed. That was eight hours focused on building a strategy to boost UX, tapping into our content to make it more relevant to you and having a complete rethink about how our website looks and feels.
The day consisted of group ideation sessions, smaller break-outs and bringing our ideas to life. Here’s some pictures from the day…
These agile ways of working are rapidly growing in popularity, particularly with small and medium-size businesses, where resources are limited, and time is valuable. Want to know more about how you can adopt agile methodologies in your marketing? Check out our Minimum Viable Marketing eBook.
But, is it better to have an in-house marketing team or outsource to a marketing agency?
1. Marketing Experts Vs Subject Matter Experts
In this instance, we would consider those in an agency to be holistic marketing experts, with internal employees more likely to be subject-matter experts, specific to their businesses.
Working on a variety of projects and executing marketing plans for a whole host of clients is what marketing agencies do best. The experience gained from working in such an environment is invaluable.
Agencies will naturally have a broader understanding of the market from exposure to other industry partners. This visibility can help shape and build strategies that make a client stand out from their competitors.
Having access to a wide network also provides agencies with flexible skills and a fresh perspective, whereas in-house teams often have funneled knowledge.
Arguably, internal employees are subject matter experts, establishing a deep-rooted understanding of the business as a whole. This in-depth knowledge can make for better business understanding and learning, but it has its limitations.
2. More Creativity, Better Results
In-house, a team will be focused on complying to core business strategies and delivering results. However, this internal focus can often cause teams to become shielded from external macro factors.
Through hiring an outsourced marketing team, it is possible to gain fresh perspectives, which can lead to invaluable insights into the latest trends within your industry. Agencies can provide a level of creativity that you simply may not be able to achieve internally – they can be your ‘creative thinking hat’.
Results drive business growth. It is important to ensure that your agency understands your business strategy in order to align marketing plans. When this is done well, an agency can become an extended part of your team – agencies drive results!
3. Time is Money
In most cases, having an internal marketing team means your approval process will be better streamlined. Fewer emails and more face to face conversations allows for greater visibility and reduced lead times.
On the other hand, by outsourcing to a marketing agency, a business is able to free up internal resources to focus on other business tasks. An agency allows you to sit back and focus on other business-critical activity, enabling your existing staff to become more efficient.
Some may argue it is more cost efficient to have an internal marketing team as there aren’t any rush or overtime charges. But, it has been found that agencies provide an average 9% monetary saving and a 15% average time saving precisely for those reasons. When there is a financial penalty for delays, you’re much more likely to move the project along rush faster than when you have all the time in the world.
4. Give Your Business Space to Grow
Growth, specifically fast growth, is a key strategic approach for many businesses to maintain competitive advantage in their industry. Why do some businesses grow quicker than others? Marketing.
Marketing is important for getting to those clients you don’t know.
The focus should also be on developing networks and building relationships with external stakeholders. Agencies have a large network extending to functions that may not be available in an in-house marketing team. They can provide stronger relationships with fewer suppliers.
The real result and key importance of using a marketing agency is freeing up your time to grow internally and externally.
So, what’s better, an in-house or agency set up?
The merits of in house are employees are subject matter experts, fully aligned to their business strategy. Not only this, but activity can be turned around quickly because teams will be working closely and managed by one senior management team. On the flip side, if you’re looking for an agile team, experts within marketing with a full resource behind them including content, studio, strategy and more, then agency is the way to go.
In reality, the sweet spot is somewhere between the two, and that’s what the Bright Virtual Marketing offering tries to achieve.
Bright’s hybrid model – bringing together the benefits of both internal and outsourced teams.
The Bright team acts as a virtual marketing department for high growth and dynamic businesses. This provides clients with their own specialised marketing manager and supporting team, backed up by other Bright resources – such as design, web design and build, branding, event support, etc. – as and when required.
We shape and execute marketing strategies designed to plug any in-house gaps and support business goals. We also focus on driving as much as value as possible for our clients. We find the best way to do this is to regularly spend time on our client’s site each week – so that we truly become a part of your team.
By adopting a hybrid model, you are tapping into a dedicated team who work and learn from your own team to become advocates of your brand. This additional team takes on time-consuming tasks, so your business has the space to grow, whilst also providing a creative soundboard so you can take your business to places you may not have thought possible.
It’s like a match and a firecracker. You need to bring the two together to see the fireworks.
Digital marketers are experiencing an “issue” at the moment. We have a substantial amount of data to analyse and use to our benefit. Definitely not a bad problem to have, as you would much rather have too much data than not enough.
Taking Google Analytics as an example, GA has a staggering 150 default metrics, which can be viewed through over 100 various dimensions. That is just the default settings, and does not include any advanced views, filters or implementations you may well want to setup.
Looking at social media, Facebook analytics exports a whopping seven spreadsheets with over ten columns of data, while Twitter analytics exports include up to forty columns of data.
That’s a lot of data to sift through! This can make it exceptionally difficult to choose one, or even a few, KPIs to really focus on.
You would think having access to such a wide range of data would make our marketing strategies easier, and this is generally true for larger companies who are able to outsource their data analysis to data science experts. These companies have indeed prospered, but the smaller businesses tend to struggle with where to start with this seemingly insurmountable mound of data.
In smaller businesses, resources tend to be much tighter and the luxury of spare time is sparse. The result of this is that employees don’t tend to digest the data, explore trends and ask questions. Instead, employees get into a routine of running the same reports over and over on a monthly basis, while not gaining much insight into what value the data at hand provides.
This is more common than not among small businesses, but there are steps and mindset changes one can take on to streamline your data reporting, to allow you more time to be inquisitive and find the value needed for your marketing strategies.
Marketing analytics is not rocket science, so don’t treat it as such.
Take A/B testing, also known as split-run testing, for example. It’s been around for what feels like decades now!
Have some ideas on how to improve your email? Go ahead and test it using various test buckets. Looks like our audience prefer our teal button more than our yellow button, great! How about our landing pages? Can we AB test our hero banner? Sure, why not. Let’s nail down what our audience responds best to.
Does A/B testing really represent how your customers respond generally, or just in that current moment they received your content? It’s difficult to tell and is why A/B testing can be so frustrating at times.
The results of the tests can often be inconclusive. Sometimes your test sample is too small to have a statistical weight behind it to make these difficult decisions. Other times, there are factors which are out of your control, that might influence your results, like a website loading speed issue.
The point here, is that A/B testing, or any other form of testing, may not yield the results for what works best from a marketing perspective. Having a controlled environment, like any scientific test, is paramount to obtaining an accurate depiction of your results. However, in Digital Marketing, controlled environments are few and far between.
These methods should not be discarded by any means, but we also need to be cautious when implementing them, because again, marketing is anything but a controlled environment.
Some metrics matter, others don’t.
Now back to those ridiculously large social media analytic reports. Here’s the honest truth: I rarely use even 50% of those metrics. Why?
Well, to begin with, it’s important you know what you are gaining value from when looking at these reports. Many metrics are just slight variations of themselves, or sometimes have very convoluted definitions as to what those metrics are. If they are too similar, or too vague I omit them from my report.
The fear of missing out is the real crux of the issue here. FOMO again.
Reporting on every metric available, due to fear of missing out on something, isn’t the best strategy, because it clouds the real valuable metrics. If a metric isn’t valuable, don’t use it, as it’s only going to make it more difficult for you to spot relevant trends in your data.
Just keep in mind that platforms like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, although they provide you with endless amounts of data to sift through, only you and your business can know what’s really important.
It’s about the ingredients, not the meal.
Before you start cooking up an analytics report, think about the value you are hoping to find in the data. Play devil’s advocate and ask yourself what results you would expect to see if your initial conclusions were wrong.
In doing this, you’ll be much better suited to finding patterns and trends you may not have spotted with your initial conclusion-based approach.
Stop searching for the right answers, and look for the right questions
Question yourself, your approach and your data regularly. If you feel you’re eventually questioning everything, don’t be overwhelmed. You’re doing it right.
The world is changing constantly, along with the platforms we use and HOW we use them. Your perceived concept of the “right answers” may be true one day, and wrong the next.
Keep adapting and be open to change.
If there’s one lesson I’ve learned working with digital marketing data, it’s that you have to be a perpetual sceptic. Of the metrics, of your reporting, of yourself.
Sian HeaphyData…Data everywhere. What’s the right way to approach your reporting?
There are over 3 billion social media users around the world*. That’s 40% of the global population.
And whilst the majority use social channels to document their own lives, more and more are using them to build their professional and social networks, find inspiration, do research and, more often than not, for entertainment.
The businesses winning in this space
The B2B businesses prevailing are those actively tapping into this trend. Rather than relying solely on their website, they create a social media marketing strategy that focuses on driving the right content at the right time to the right people.
I know. You’ve heard this before. Surely this is just marketing?
Yes. And no.
The reason certain marketing strategies prevail over others is because they use an agile methodology. They understand that there is no longer a beginning, middle or end to a campaign. Agile marketers are in a constant loop of producing new content, testing, learning, optimising, then repeating the whole process all over again.
And it’s this loop that allows them to find the optimal execution. Because let’s face it, consumers are fickle. What is trending today might very well be last year’s news tomorrow. So rather than planning for six months knowing these plans will be out of date in a week or so, produce a whole host of new creative that can be reworked, retagged, used across different platforms in different mediums. Not only does this stop you chasing your tail when something new hits the market, it means a more comprehensive feedback report specific to your brand and your market – meaning more informed decisions at every stage of your campaign.
Creating a suite of marketing assets can also help when creative fatigue hits, enabling businesses to release new assets even when the momentum of campaign kick-off begins to wear off.
And we’re talking about more than a handful of banner images and well-constructed tweets.
What content should you include in your campaign portfolio?
According to research conducted by Content Marketing Institute, the top six content used by B2B marketers come down to:
Social media posts (excluding video)
Infographics (we all love an infographic!)
According to a recent study by Magisto, more than one-half of the 545 small, midsized and global businesses surveyed reported creating new video content at least once per week. 26% noted creating new video content daily.
This is a huge step up for a lot of companies who would usually produce one video per quarter.
Thinking creative content
Other content that has huge potential in the B2B space are Podcasts. Done right, podcasts are a valuable piece of long-form content that can earn the time and attention for busy decision makers. eBay, Slack and General Electric are but a handful of companies already demonstrating the value.
Whilst one of the biggest barriers to adoption is a lack of training or knowledge of agile approaches**, this doesn’t seem to be slowing down momentum of businesses introducing agile marketing practices.
A new 2018 State of Agile Marketing Report delivered by AgileSherpas and Kapost finds that an impressive 36.7% of marketers have adopted some flavour of agile marketing. And out of the marketers who haven’t yet adopted agile, around half of them expect to within the next 12 months.
Another deterrent can be a lack of internal resources. Creating a variety of content needed to compete to the speed of social channels today doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does require time, creative juices and a black-cab driver’s knowledge of the Adobe Creative Suite.
Grab an agile partner!
Partnerships with agencies such as Bright Innovation who live and breathe creative are often a cost effect way to get the most out of your content budget. Not only do we have a full-service internal team comprising of wordsmiths, design wizards and expert consultants in virtual marketing and change comms, our capabilities stretch from the trustworthy infographic to video, podcasts to unique customer experiences.
Our Minimum Viable Marketing methodology also has agile at the heart of it, meaning we pick up all the testing, adjusting, learning and optimising – leaving you with a suite of assets and one monthly report full of the information you care about and none of the fuss in between.
If you would like to learn more about our agile methods and approach to content marketing in the B2B space, get yourself a copy of our Minimum Viable Marketing eBook. Or if you’d rather ask us some questions instead, ping us an email instead: email@example.com
If I worked at American greetings card company, Hallmark, I might actually have to stand up and introduce myself like this at the start of meetings.
ISTJ is my personality type. It has been decided by the massively popular Myers Briggs Type Indicator (or MBTI) personality test, developed using the work of psychiatrist Carl Jung. It’s the same test taken by more than 2.5 million people every year and used by 89 of the Fortune 100 companies.
The ISTJ profile (1 of 16 different profiles) puts me in a box with around 13% of the rest of the population, based upon my responses to some questions that have characterised me as highly observant, assertive and reliable. From this, even someone that I’ve never spoken to before could make quick judgements about me – from the way I’d act when presented with a new challenge at work – to the ways that I choose my friends. Scary, right?
What I haven’t told you, is that I’m a massive advocate of the MBTI. Whilst I’m understandably pretty happy about being put in the same box as George Washington, Ben Harrison and our Queen – I also see a lot of myself in descriptions of my personality type.
I’m very aware that that a lot of people think the MBTI is complete nonsense. Many are quick to label the personality test as unreliable and inconsistent – in arguments not all that different to those against the science of psychology itself. And so, many people believe that businesses should abandon the MBTI. I, on the other hand, fully believe that the MBTI can be really useful tool in the workplace. Here’s why:
1. It encourages self-reflection
Whether or not the MBTI possesses scientific consistency (which isn’t the question here), it is an invaluable tool for self-reflection.
I recently encouraged my colleagues to complete the personality test. Although they didn’t all wholly agree with their profiling, within each one of them it prompted the self-assessment of their characteristics.
Perhaps this is because the MBTI is rather broad. Even in our horoscopes (for which I test you to find even one peer reviewed study showing their accuracy) – we can usually find a general sentence that applies to us. Either way – what it promotes is a starting point for discussing and understanding not only ourselves, but how we all vary in our personalities. This helps makes us more aware of everyone around us.
2. It’s a motivator
A number of academics believe that one of the reasons the MBTI has hung around for so long in the corporate world, is that all outcomes are positive.
The test wasn’t created to hold one personality type above another – but to celebrate our differences in strengths. To do this, the MBTI focuses on the key assets of each personality type. It doesn’t make the test weak, but hugely motivating.
The MBTI helps to draw strengths that we may have ignored and taken for granted. These strengths may help build confidence in certain situations or help us to decide upon career routes.
And hey, even if all it does is give you more adjectives for your CV… well, that’s something.
3. It helps us to understand team dynamics
The MBTI is a really useful tool in understanding group, or team dynamics.
To explain this, I actually encouraged my entire team to take the test (in the name of research, and a just little bit of intrigue).
What I found out was the following:
If our team were to be given a characteristic, it would be that of the ESFJ (the popular kids). This is derived by counting the number of team members with each preference. Without getting into the nitty gritty of exactly what this means to our team – let’s have a look at why it’s important to understand. *You can read more about the strengths and weaknesses of your team in The Character of Organizations by William Bridges (2000).
Common sense denotes an equal split of personality types across a team, for it to be balanced and effective. The smaller the team, the less personality types, and less likely it is that someone will have the same personality type to you (if we discount the fact that companies tend to hire similar types of people).
The MBTI draws out team strengths and weaknesses, allowing teams to maximise the natural advantages that result from similarities and differences within the team.
Team similarity has been shown to affect both team process (how well they work together) and outcomes (how well they perform). Our team similarity index is 44 (out of 100), which means over half of the team has a different communication preference.