• Marketing systems have grown significantly more sophisticated in the last 10 years than in the previous 40 years combined
  • What is the result of all of this? Our clients fall into three primary groups – the “embracers,” the “adventurers” and the “paralyzed”
  • Here are some observations about organizations find themselves paralyzed

I will readily admit that today, marketing ain’t easy. Long gone are the days when marketing’s function was limited to buying media and creating print ads or TV or radio spots (think Mad Men, only with less shenanigans).

Modern marketing leaders are neck-deep in Web properties, content development (from 140-character tweets to lengthy brochures), social media, digital media, “alternative” media and umpteen sales enablement activities.

Marketing systems have grown significantly more sophisticated in the last 10 years than in the previous 40 years combined. BI, CRM, MAP, MRM, SAM, WCM and numerous other two- and three-letter acronyms litter pages of marketing plans and process flow diagrams. This is all very overwhelming indeed for marketers.

So, what is the result of all of this? In my experience as a consultant at SiriusDecisions, I have found that our clients fall into three primary groups – the embracers, the adventurers and the paralyzed. The embracers take all of their new duties and new technologies in stride, managing to integrate new roles, processes and technologies at an appropriate pace to drive incremental capability and improvement.

The adventurers move more quickly – and at times, more recklessly – bringing in new systems and processes without a clear business case or communication plan. They often find themselves riddled with false starts, partially functioning systems and misalignment between resources. The paralyzed are a whole separate breed. They are simply mired in place and time, not knowing how or when to proceed.

Let me share some observations about organizations that are paralyzed:

  • Paralyzed organizations usually have paralyzed leaders. Leaders may not understand modern marketing and the opportunities it creates – or they might be highly risk-averse or simply afraid. If your leaders or people with influence are resisting important change, it may be time to rethink the leadership lineup.
  • Sometimes organizations become paralyzed because there is just so much inertia to overcome. If I only had nickel for every time I heard, “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it,” I would be retirement-eligible (almost). The organizations that successfully embrace change generally start with one or two projects, processes or technologies and then build on success. Successful change is all about small, quick wins.
  • Another reason for paralysis is a lack of (or a perceived lack of) resources to initiate positive change. New projects are constantly deferred due to other day-to-day demands. It is important to view new initiatives – especially those that automate processes or rationalize manual process steps – as one-time investments that reduce reliance on resources (or significantly increase scale) later. Remember, no pain, no gain.
  • Finally, organizations that are considered paralyzed today were frequently “the adventurers” yesterday. They might have completely underestimated what was required to create sustainable change, making every task and activity a triple-A-plus priority to be completed this quarter and failing to achieve the results they had hoped for when making changes. A complex, business-wide change initiative is a marathon, not a sprint, and requires multi-quarter (if not multi-year) planning, with as much activity in the back end of the plan as the front end.

To the paralyzed among us, I say, “Don’t just sit there – do something!” Put a plan in place and get started, one step at a time. Be realistic in your approach – you cannot complete everything in the next 30 days. Expect to fail at times but fail quickly and fail small, then learn and make course corrections. The important thing here is to take that first step and build some confidence.

For example, identify one high-impact improvement that can realistically be accomplished over the next quarter. Build a mini-business case showing what is required to get it done and how things will look after implementation. Share that with your leaders and your peers. Build support for change and then drive. Solicit buy-in from relevant teams and managers and avoid scope creep to ensure a quick win, and then use that win as a springboard for the next big idea.

Is your organization among the paralyzed? Or do you see your organization in one of the other groups, or a different group altogether?

Whatever the case, let SiriusConsulting™ know. We would love to hear from you and can even help you create a plan to achieve your goals.