Business leaders are making significant strides to transform their marketing strategies in order to respond to changing environments, new product and service categories, and evolving customer demands. Instead of thinking about consequences or customers, they’re focusing on stakeholders and not upgrading.
Unfortunately, leaders expect that old marketing skills will be sufficient to implement new marketing strategies. It is a fact that many great plans have failed because of a lack of ability shifts.
Business leaders can improve their marketing capabilities by using the right building blocks to support promising strategies.
What is Required
Four key categories of marketing skills are required to support business transformations.
- Competencies are the first category. These are the right functional, technical, and teaming skills, as well as leadership and management skills, to create and activate differentiated customer solutions. These skills can be acquired in many different ways, such as through internal development or external talent acquisition. However, they must align directly with emerging business strategy.
- The second is process. Leadership must implement replicable frameworks and approaches for the wide range of activities teams perform to create value in order to deliver solutions.
- Tools are the third category, which includes all systems, information, and resources that teams require to be effective. The ability of leadership to understand the changing needs of their groups and identify tools that meet those needs is key to the success of tool-based capabilities enhancements.
- The last category is organization. A business change will fail without the right structure, governance, roles, responsibilities, and mindset to enable accountability as well as take decisive action.
How to get there
Building out these capabilities at such a large scale takes a lot of time, effort, focus, and resources from the leadership team, along with buy-in and commitment from the team members. Prophet, our company has identified five methods of capability development that will each contribute to the success of an emerging business strategy.
Start with small examples that have a central impact on the market. Then, expand to the rest of your organization. You can start with a group of highly respected people who have bought into the strategy and then guide them through a visible capability shift. The success of the pilot group will inspire and encourage other groups.
Management routines that evolve
Lead by example. Start at the top and integrate the solution shifts into how the organization does business. After actively changing themselves, leaders can more effectively ask others to change.
Promoting knowledge sharing
It is not enough to ask teams to change. Leadership must give examples of what successful change looks like. Administration can provide couples with a road map by sharing best practices from within and outside of the company.
Sometimes, the capabilities requirements of the existing business strategy can be directly translated into the new one. In most cases, however, you will need to develop a new talent development process. Talent can either be developed internally or hired externally. A system is required in order to help fill in talent gaps and rely on relevant strengths.
Culture and Mindset
Change can be scary. Your employees may not be aware of their position in relation to your evolving strategies or whether they will still be relevant when their roles change. Leaders must change their perspectives to maintain focus and inspire passion for transformation.
It isn’t easy.
It is not easy to change the marketing capabilities of an entire company. A number of common pitfalls may undermine the efforts of a company.
- A common pitfall is to let the internal focus on transformation obscure the benefits that the company delivers to its customers. Customers do not want to feel any growing pains as a result of a new strategy; they want to see its positive effects. Companies should be careful not to give their customers any reason to go elsewhere until the kinks have been worked out.
- Second, a business cannot develop its capabilities if it adopts a standard approach. Some teams have more relevant skills than others and will respond differently to different skill-building techniques. Companies should consider each team’s circumstances when designing capability-development plans.
- A second pitfall is not presenting a compelling case for change internally. Leaders can be so eager for change that they forget that team members weren’t part of the process that led to the shift in business. They may, therefore, not understand the need for change. If they want their employees to embrace and be energized by a business shift, company leaders must build understanding, enthusiasm, and buy-in.
- Leadership can also underestimate the complexity of the new strategy. This will result in inadequate resources for implementation, unrealistic timelines, and unreliable metrics to monitor its progress. Leadership must be able to understand and appreciate the need for a shift in marketing capabilities and create a culture that encourages their success.
But You Can Do It
The shifts in marketing capabilities are not only a major undertaking but are essential to a company’s long-term relevance, competitive differentiation, and longevity. These shifts are often not only possible but also necessary.
Consider, for instance, the global adhesives manufacturer with whom Prophet has worked. The organic growth of the company had stagnated, and its geographic expansion in history was limited. The firm also had little insight into the end-users’ behavior and decision-making process. It was not able to differentiate itself from its competitors because it took a passive (rather than active) approach. Prophet and its leaders knew that a better marketing strategy could lead to strategic growth.
The firm responded by forming a marketing committee that included all divisions of the company. The council used both internal and external best practices to identify the competencies needed to “win.” It then created a marketing strategy that was tailored to the company’s market-driven approach. They also developed tools and trained employees to make key marketing skills.
What was the result? The result? A product portfolio management trial resulted in margin improvements of over $38 million. More than 400 marketers around the world have also been given specific development programs to ensure continuous learning and sustainable growth.