Our newsletter talks a lot about how brands carry out local marketing on behalf of the channel partners that distribute their products and services. We often write about the digital marketing technologies available to brands and how they ought to be centralized on the same platform that manages the ad creative, content and the data that fuels them.
What we don’t often talk about very much is how we work with clients to implement technology. This often stimulates clients to modernize or streamline their internal processes, which impacts how they execute local marketing with their network of affiliates, retailers, VARs, field agents, etc.
Now that 2014 is underway, organizations are beginning to assess whether the changes committed to make are taking root. Change is hard - especially structural change within an organization. Oftentimes, the more mature the company, the more rigid it is with respect to systems, processes, and even culture. Sometimes companies must make a fundamental choice to upgrade their internal technology, forcing management to rethink internal processes and procedures that have been in place for awhile.
We usually discover this opportunity as part of the systems implementation phase of new client onboarding. As we work together, we tend to see our client partners re-engineer their marketing operations processes that define their partner marketing to become more streamlined. As a result this impacts other departments like accounting and customer service, who end up changing processes to gain efficiencies as well. So how does this client-vendor dance play out?
1. At The Heart of Successful Implementation is Comprehensive Discovery
Successful implementation is achieved by discovering what a client’s business needs are and then leveraging our technology to serve those needs. In this stage where the business requirements are defined and the solution is proposed, clients come to us with varying levels of experience in mapping their business requirements to our technical capabilities.
2. Managing the Transformative Disruption
Go ahead and embrace the fact that implementing something so important and overarching is going to upset the apple cart for a bit. But most growth comes with some growing pains. A deep, exploratory conversation (before implementation ever begins) identifies potential disruptions and mitigation can be planned into the overall transformation.
For example, if a company utilizes co-op marketing funds or market development funds in a reimbursement model, switching to a co-pay model allows for a more efficient usage of these funds for network users. This elicits greater participation from partners, but it does mean process changes for the accounting department of the brand.
3. Clearly Define Responsibilities of the Stakeholders
Of course the alignment of all the stakeholders involved in the implementation is key. A graduated approach is usually best, introducing stakeholders into the process as they are needed, ensuring there is never confusion on the part of the client regarding who to go to for what.
There will be day-to-day point people to drive the program on both the vendor and client sides, as well as many other area specialists like IT or Production who lend expertise and solutions when things get tricky. Making sure that everyone on the team knows what they are responsible for and who their “go-to” support positions are, saves time, money and headache for all teams.
Change (or some might call it a shake-up) challenges a company to reassess everything from labor functions to customer relations, and in an ever-evolving marketing landscape this is never a bad exercise. If your company needs a jolt of renewal, creativity, and an intense self-critique of what works and what doesn’t, implement a comprehensive marketing technology – it works every time.