When running a marketing innovation project, whether that is setting up a new CRM system, introducing a new marketing tool or getting buy-in for a new digital strategy, internal engagement often gets deprioritised in favour of the delivery of the actual implementation.
Too many projects fail, not because they’re rooted in a bad idea or bad execution, but because of a lack of engagement by the main stakeholders. With organisation-wide projects those stakeholders can span every corner of the business.
Here are some of my learnings from running various digital transformation projects in complex stakeholder environments including some of the world’s largest law firms.
Map out your stakeholders and start early
Project communications and internal engagement are often looked at as an afterthought, something on the to-do list after the project has been delivered.
It’s essential to start engaging your main stakeholders from the very start of your project. To avoid any unexpected confrontations, map out every single possible stakeholder or stakeholder group and write down their requirements and potential objections. This will not only help you in adjusting the direction of the project but also in looking for answers to the objections along the way.
Changing the course of an oil tanker by just a yard at the beginning of the journey will make it arrive miles further at the end.
Don’t assume you know what is important to your different stakeholders. Organise meetings in group and one-to-one to identify the main needs and possible pain points.
This will give you a solid basis for mapping out your key messaging. Additionally, your stakeholders will feel like they’ve been listened to, become more patient and start rooting for your success.
Plan out your messaging
Sending off a global email on the launch day of the project is not sufficient. It’s critical you map out the different key messages you need to get across at the different stages of the project, segmented per stakeholder group.
Silence is the mortal enemy of communications. It allows stakeholders to make assumptions and hold counterproductive beliefs. Keep the lines open, communicate on a regular basis and reiterate your key messaging in combination with new information.
Think of the different channels you could use to reach your audiences. Although email is the easiest, it might not be the most effective. Be creative and stand out from the noise.
This links back to my first point. Don’t assume that your carefully planned messaging plan was received as it was intended. Use different data points such as usage rates, surveys and meetings – both formal informal – to validate whether your project messaging was clear and convincing enough.
Finally, your communications shouldn’t stop after the launch of your project. There should be a continuous plan in place to inform, engage and excite every single one of your stakeholders.
What projects do you have going on? Let’s grab a coffee and talk about how to make your messaging resonate in order to activate your internal engagement.
Bram Vanoirbeek is a digital transformation, marketing innovation and strategic communications specialist. One of his favourite compliments is that he is able to humanise digital transformation on all levels of an organisation.