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Becoming a Change Agent

Serve as Change Agent

Data-Driven Marketing Organizations are Well-Positioned to Serve as Change Agents

By becoming more data-driven, adding more analytical talent and capabilities to your team, and refining your analytical and process skills, you are creating an opportunity to generate greater business-relevant insights. These capabilities are evolving into the building blocks of every Marketing organization’s foundation. As you use data, analytics, metrics, and modeling to tackle point problems, you have the opportunity to affect organizational change, in essence to serve as a change agent. But, to become an effective change agent, you need to transform marketing from being a blocking and tackling organization to taking a more holistic approach that integrates analytical, process, strategy, planning, and performance management expertise.

Maybe you like the idea of being a change agent, maybe not. It can be exhilarating and a bit scary.  Well you know that old saying, when you step into the river, both you and the river are changed. Change agents are catalysts. A successful change agent improves the organization’s ability to achieve a higher degree of output. When you act as a change agent, marketing leads the creation of a vision of what could or should be. The next step is to identify what it takes to realize this vision and then to go about amending or replacing strategies, procedures, and processes that are obstacles to achieving the vision. We operate on two planes- one being where the organization currently is and the other being the ideal state.

Since Marketing should be the antenna for the organization – gathering and interpreting the signals – you are in the best position to act as a change agent. The business environment is constantly changing, therefore, the company that can create, manage and master change has the greatest likelihood to thrive.  Being a change agent is more than just coming up with a brilliant idea, it is about bringing the idea to life and engaging the rest of the organization. Creating, managing and mastering change is a skill. The skills we have in marketing to connect and engage with external customers and prospects are the same skills we need to connect with and engage people within the organization. That’s what gives marketers an advantage as change agents.

Here are five vital steps to affect change:

  1. Link change explicitly and tightly to real performance outcomes:  Change is not intended for the sake of change; it should improve business performance. The result of change should generate specific and quantifiable business outcomes.
  2. Create concrete initiatives: These initiatives should support the outcomes and focus on what it will take for these initiatives to affect the organization’s operation in a positive way.
  3. Include human dimension in your calculations: People do what people do. They embrace, they resist, they obstruct, and they rise to the occasion. So listen, a lot. People dodge drafts. Find ways to enroll people into the process.
  4. Develop and market the message: When we sell to different market groups, we develop appropriate campaigns.Employ this approach internally. Segment your internal markets and tailor the message accordingly. Leverage both informal and formal networks.
  5. Recognize that disruption is an important part of the process: Being a change agent means you’re going to discomfort people around you. You’re going to interrupt the “way we do things.” As change agents you must be able to step outside of your own comfort zone if you want to take people outside of theirs. The key to being a change agent is producing and keeping a healthy tension alive in the organization.

Here’s an important point to remember about being an effective change agent—the first person who must change is you. A change agent leads and models the way. We must live the vision we see and the behavior it requires if we want others to do so. The rest of the team will be watching you. You must first develop the skills and techniques to change how you work if you’re going to help others acquire the skills and techniques to change how they work. Being on the front line enables you to capture, manage, and synthesize market and customer data sooner and faster. As a result, we are ideally situated to use analytics, metrics, and process to act as an organizational change agent. Learn more what metrics to use to become an agent of change by purchasing our book “Marketing Metrics in Action.”

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