Portfolio marketers play a key role during the strategic annual planning process as they provide expertise on the ideal target audiences (markets and buyers) for their organization to pursue. But what happens when something changes outside the regular planning cycle? Disruptive business changes — such as a merger or an acquisition or an organizational restructure — occur all the time and often require a shift in go-to-market strategy. Although fear may be the natural first instinct, portfolio marketers must promptly kick into survival mode and take action.

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Two common scenarios occur when B2B organizations face disruptive change:

  • Status quo. People are fearful of the change and resort to “business as usual” because it’s comfortable and they’re uncertain of how the change will affect them. People often take this approach when they believe the change is too difficult to navigate and they don’t know where to start. Being overwhelmed by the amount of work that needs to be done can lead to inaction and resistance.
  • Organizational misalignment. Teams interpret the change in their own way, leading to siloed modifications of plans. If product, marketing, and sales teams aren’t aligned on a revised go-to-market strategy, navigating the change successfully will be difficult.

Portfolio marketers must hone their survival skills, build an “emergency plan,” and take on a critical role in managing change and aligning cross-functional teams. They must act quickly, determine the impact of the go-to-market strategy change, and identify required modifications to key areas. The five areas that will see the most impact are:

  • Go-to-market architecture. A change in go-to-market strategy absolutely affects an organization’s go-to-market architecture. Portfolio marketers must assess the situation and align product, marketing, and sales teams on the adapted go-to-market plan.
  • Personas and buyer’s journey mapping. Modifications to the organization’s target buyer personas are likely necessary. Perhaps existing buyer personas will change or the organization must consider entirely new buying audiences. Portfolio marketers are responsible for gathering the buyer persona attributes that matter most and either revising existing personas or developing new ones.
  • Portfolio messaging and content. Portfolio marketers must update existing messaging and content. Depending on the disruptive change, they may need to create new messaging and content to appeal to new markets or buyers or to communicate new offerings. Portfolio marketers own the action to evaluate, update, or develop messaging to support downstream marketing and sales go-to-market activities.
  • Sales knowledge transfer. Any change in go-to-market strategy affects sales. Portfolio marketers must work with sales leadership to communicate the necessary changes and get buy-in for any new sales education. Recognizing that any disruption to sales could be problematic (or unwelcome), portfolio marketers must identify the essential information sales needs to know.
  • Roles, responsibility, and structure. The portfolio marketing function itself may be affected, especially in a merger or an acquisition situation. The portfolio marketing leader must first assess the current team structure against the go-to-market strategy changes to determine whether any gaps in resources or capabilities exist. Various assessment tools can help leaders determine the optimal portfolio marketing organizational structure needed to support the change.

Being prepared is the best way to survive disruptive change. Having a plan gives portfolio marketers the confidence to not only navigate the change themselves, but also take the lead in advocating the change within their organization. At Summit 2020, Paul Ferron and I will share how to build a survival plan (including the key survival skills and tools needed) that prepares portfolio marketers to deal with the impact on go-to-market strategy as a result of disruptive change. This is a must-attend session for all portfolio marketers as attendees will walk away with a Portfolio Marketer’s Pocket Survival Guide! Click here for more Summit 2020 details.