The promise of a platform of any kind that will transform the way that an organization does business is compelling and indeed, exciting. Many organizations, with the best of intentions, begin right away getting down to the business of deploying the promise of a tool that will help them become data-driven marketers. They jump right in making project plans, assigning teams, and are determined to deliver quick wins that show the accuracy of their choice.
Understandable. However, in the rush of initial excitement, the most important aspect of a successful deployment is often ignored. If not ignored, it’s lightly discussed as something that may have to be addressed later but shouldn’t stand in the way of the quick win that is surely right around the corner. If the data is collected, cleansed, and harmonized, what could possibly go wrong? People.
The current buzz phrase being tossed around is that we are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution centered around data. Heady stuff, but as in every prior revolution, there are those intrepid souls who dive in headfirst anxious to embrace a new future, and then there are many who see the revolution as a threat, a force unfamiliar and unforgiving.
And so it is with data-driven marketing in this age of big data. For most, the mandate to be data-driven marketers is uncomfortable. It may seem to many that suddenly the tried and true toolkit of marketers—instinct, creative prowess, research and brand building—is playing second fiddle to stuff that looks a lot like math.
Win Over the Doubters
Unfortunately, many people in such a daunting position become experts in digging in their heels. They may procrastinate on tasks that they don’t quite understand, or in order to secure their position in the new world, try to gain control over the project without understanding what’s involved. In some cases, this is the first time that cross-channel teams have had to show evidence of their marketing performance and will try to forestall this as long as possible. All of this leads to prolonged deployments, and long delays before the promise of a data-driven marketing organization is fulfilled.
Firstly, be aware that pushback and struggles with aligning cross-channel teams are a natural phenomenon with change, and address the change with compassion and patience. It is necessary to build trust. Specifically, this means that in tandem with deployment project plans, make plans for education, hands-on training and the time and space to candidly discuss obstacles. If marketers are not experienced with how to measure marketing performance, or what KPIs are relevant to their business, consider a workshop and/or online coursework.
Encourage Wins, Big or Small
Once a platform is live, there will always be a (very) few people in your organization who will be excited by the challenge. Find a way for these folks to be advocates and to teach others. Reward those who try to make data-driven decisions, even though they may be wrong at first. Encourage experimentation and testing using insights from the data. This allows marketers to use their creative thinking expertise.
For agency partners, reassure them that their expertise is needed more than ever and that by being transparent, there are more opportunities to be strategic and experiment, and less time creating lengthy powerpoint summaries. If you do not have an executive sponsor for this project, find one—in particular because it will be easier to get resources for education and training.
Trust Your Platform Provider
And lastly, your platform providers should have advice, partnerships, tools and more to help you address the change; don’t be afraid to ask for help.
There is no better time to be a marketer. Data democratization can accomplish the goal nearest and dearest to the marketer’s heart: relevance to consumers. The CFO likes it, too.