Part 3 of “The Future Of Modern Medicare Marketing” Series
What is the marketing culture at your Medicare marketing organization? Is innovation, experimentation, testing all within the culture? If they are, you’ll have a much easier time campaigning for marketing technology and if not, you’ll have more of an uphill battle.
Technological advances in any industry can be disruptive. People generally are opposed to change for a variety of reasons but the main one is always a reluctance to disturb the comfort of the status quo.
A recent article in Forbes: “5 Reasons Leaders Are Afraid To Challenge The Status Quo”reveals some interesting insight as to why upsetting the status quo cause leaders to be fearful, or at least concerned.
Glenn Llopis, the author, quotes a Harvard Business Review article where a study of 1,000 employees across the nation were surveyed and were asked: “How often have you seen senior leaders challenge the status quo or ask employees to think outside the box? “42% said never or almost never, 32% said sometimes, and 26% said fairly often or very often. Only 3% said always.
Here, Llopis details these reasons that leaders are afraid of challenging the status quo:
1. “They’re unwilling to turn the spotlight of accountability on themselves
2. They’re afraid of risk
3. They don’t know how to get started
4. They lack organizational readiness
5. They have not evolved as leaders”
Let’s consider these reasons: If your executives are unwilling to turn the spotlight of accountability on themselves, for fear of failing, as the perception would be if the program or directive failed, then the person leading the program also failed. The marketing leader in your organization may be willing to suffer through missing their numbers quarter after quarter, but would be unwilling to champion what could be perceived as a big expenditure, having themselves and their reputations on the line to succeed.
Here the status quo, even if the leads and sales are diminishing year over year, is safer than putting their neck on the line to ask the company to invest in marketing technology.
At KERN, we have developed what we believe is the accurate Modern Buyer’s Journey, which consists of 10 stages. This is not a linear journey, so the stages may be traversed in bunches or in a different order than listed here. The 10 stages of the Modern Buyer’s Journey are:
2. Recognize Need
3. Search For Solutions
4. Seek Vendor Solutions
5. Evaluate Solutions
6. Justify Solutions
7. Social Research
8. Cost Analysis
10. Evaluate Decision
Let’s assume that you are the decision maker in your marketing department. And let’s say that you’ve happened upon this article, and it distracted you. You’ve always consider yourself a savvy, forward thinking modern marketer, and you understand that new innovations, techniques, processes and technologies have vastly impacted marketing. However, somehow, your organization has a tendancy to ignore the fact that marketing has had wholesale changes in the past 5 years, and, that old “Status-Quo” problem about doing things the way that they’ve always been done is a trap that marketing organizations often fall into. (Stage 1)
Now, you’re recognized that perhaps you do have a need for marketing technology to at least keep pace with your competitors. This realization is not only a logical one, but an emotional one as well. Having to implement any type of change in any part of our lives can be challenging, overwhelming and frustrating. It can also create feelings of anxiety, conjuring up a host of “what-if’s.” What if my job is no longer relevant when we have automated technological marketing in place? What if my adoption of the technology is too slow and new marketing team members are brought in? What if my value plummets due to the greater value of the tool and the lesser perceived value of me? (Stage 2)
You’re on Google- you’re searching for marketing technology solutions. You’ve managed to quell the bad thoughts that are echoing in your mind, realizing that you are the change agent- you know that adoption of the newest and latest and greatest technology is definitely going to move your marketing organization forward, so you’re on board with it. (Stage 3)
You’ve found several solutions from several different vendors, some that integrate with each other, and some that seem to be stand-alone solutions. You notice the names of several vendors that are coming up repeatedly on your searches. (Stage 4)
Now that you have the names of the companies that are manufacturing these marketing technology solutions, you research each, find out what capabilities that they have, match those against your specific needs, and now you are evaluating those vendor solutions. (Stage 5)
After doing your homework at the very beginning, you understand what your specific needs are, and you are now justifying your proposed chosen solutions against those needs, and budget. You have realized that this exercise of seeking out appropriate marketing technology may be a never ending exercise. After all, innovation is the driver of technological advance, and the companies that manufacture marketing technology are likely to build a better mousetrap next year or the year after. You have also come to the conclusion that there is no “one” tool that will do all you need it to do to be your marketing technology solution. So you may have to repeat your searching and researching over and over again for each specific tool. You must also remember that your end goal, of equipping your organization to compete on at least a level playing field, or a playing field that provides your organization with an “unfair” advantage is a goal that will need to be revisited each year or two, or when an innovative or disruptive marketing technology is invented. (Stage 6)
Social research can take place during each stage, or as a separate exercise, however, most will be checking out independent 3rd party reviews, tests, chatter on social networks, including LinkedIn, and trade associations or publications that specialize in reviewing marketing technologies. (Stage 7)
How much will this marketing technology cost us? What is the perceived return on investment? How long will it take before we begin to see the return on investment? How ready are we to install or integrate this technology with our legacy systems? What is going to be the monthly cost, or the total cost of ownership? Have you considered that data is at the heart of what makes all marketing technology work? Are you aware that your data strategy needs to have been determined while you are seeking marketing technology? What data do you need to capture? What data are you seeking? Have you planned for the sheer amount of data, and the velocity at which data will arrive and flow through your system? Are the solutions you are about to pull the trigger on, capable of all that you need for it to do? Are the reports generated out of the system sophisticated enough to inform you of your real time progress? (Stage 8)
Okay, we have buy-in from the top-down. We have a green light and permission to issue a purchase order. We pulled the trigger and now we own it. (Stage 9)
We own it, now we need to utilize it. How long did it take us to ramp up on the operation of these technologies? How was the actual experience of using it as compared to the perceived complexity of using it? Was this a wise purchase choice for our organization, and why, or why not? (Stage 10)
If you’re going to stick your neck out on the block, and have decided to champion this cause of finding, evaluating, purchasing and using this marketing technology, you will need to plan each stage of your buyer’s journey, and preferably will have your own executive champion to join you on the journey. Do the research, be prepared to intelligently discuss your point of view on different marketing technologies, what they do, how they will help your organization, and what your perceived return on investment would be.
Marketo, a vendor that manufactures marketing automation technology has realized the difficulty in being the agent of change of the marketing department. They have written an excellent guide which is referenced and linked below. And while this guide is specific to marketing automation technology, these steps can be followed to help you act as the change agent, selling your vision of any type of marketing technology up to the executive level.
Selling Marketing Automation To The C-Suite from Marketo
Do you have what it takes to be a successful marketing change agent?
Are you a catalyst for innovative new processes? Is it your goal to improve your marketing organization’s ability to improve and optimize outputs? Are you able to bring your ideas to life by engaging the entire marketing organization? Are you able to envision the ideal state of future marketing technology that would enable your organization to accomplish better results? What would be your plan of taking the organization from where it is today to where it needs to be in the future?
One exercise you can try yourself is to map the organization’s marketing as it is today, in the current state, and create a future-state map of the organization, showing where the improvements will be made, and how those improvements will positively affect the organization’s ability to considerably improve under the new changes.
Technology isn’t the solution. Technology is a solution. Different pieces of technology provide different pieces of a solution. As the change agent of your modern Medicare marketing organization, your research, analysis and recommendation must reflect the ability of what you are proposing to move your organization forward and to provide your organization with the competitive advantage or competitive equalizer that you need to not just survive, but succeed!
Each year, the MarTech conference has an awards show. This show is called “The Stackies”and is named as such to reflect the Marketing Technologies Stacks that the top entrants have submitted. In 2017, they expanded the award to include “The Hackies” which are the winning 21 essays written by the marketing operations departments at the top marketing technology companies in the nation. One of this year’s winners is notable- and that would be Red Wing Shoes, which isn’t a B2B marketer, and also obviously isn’t a technology marketer. Medicare marketers- please take notice- you’re not B2B and you’re not technology either. If Red Wing Shoes can do it, so can you.