All the Beastie Boys music in the trailers for the new Star Trek movie got me thinking. One of the things that I and the teams I all work with struggle with is the pace of change in modern marketing. The outrageous number of issues to consider, the never-ending stream of things that can be optimized, it’s like living the lyrics of the Beastie Boys song ‘No Sleep ‘Till Brooklyn’ . It’s almost like they were foreshadowing the life of a digital marketing team at a retailer just before Black Friday.
The trouble is, no sleep causes some seriously poor decision making. [Insert your own, sleep-deprived college experience here, studying, partying, road trip diving at night, you get the picture.] Plus, the burn out factor is huge if you don’t pace yourself. Worse, not everyone even wants to do a job like that and you may not even be able to accomplish your transformation goals for lack of suitable staff.
When asked how to deal with the implications of the new pace of modern marketing during your transformation, I have a perspective that may surprise you. Many industries have their own crazy lifestyle, television journalism and its 24-hour news cycle, emergency medicine, firefighters, the list goes on. The pace is a known factor of the job for people considering it as a career and for the management teams in these industries. The issue is that many long-time marketers – in management as well as in various execution roles – still haven’t fully embraced the idea that marketing too is like a fast-paced lifestyle – and they need to.
We’ve talked before about the challenge of finding the right people to retain/retain/recruit to execute your marketing transformation. Now it’s time to take the next step and be realistic about enabling the people who have to carry out your transformation under the conditions of modern marketing:
- A significant portion of your change management process must be devoted to developing a culture that is aware of the pitfalls of working at this pace. Encourage early planning, frequent check-ins, and all the other precautions you would take when you want to ensure alignment on a fast-moving project. Similarly, use of documents spelling out roles, responsibilities, and timelines – even templates – of projects need to be positioned as standard behavior so one “forgets” that they were on the hook for a certain action and makes a mistake by moving too fast.
- You have to support your workforce by enabling shared, anytime access to data and collaboration software, supported by policies that ensure teams stay connected. That means addressing security on mobile devices and moving from on-premises to cloud-based applications. You may even have to support the needs of a non-traditional work day and workspace with 24-hour, remote IT support and other new expenses, to ensure business critical aren’t impacted by technical problems. Some people see accommodations like these as strictly the domain of IT companies but, considering how technology is a major driver of the new marketing capabilities, it makes sense that companies so dependent on information technology also adopt some of their best practices.
- On the staffing side, be realistic in your recruiting about the high uncertainty tolerance and so on but avoid hiring just adrenaline junkies. It takes a variety of personality types to meet all the marketing needs of organizations today. Ensure managers and the organization overall are prepared to support the complexities – and stress – that results from a fast-paced work environment. For example, one of the reasons some firms here in Silicon Valley have regular fruit delivery at the office is to encourage remote staff to come in once in a while and to reduce stress with the right food.
While many people may consider the pace of modern marketing outside the scope of marketing transformation but, to me, not addressing these elements is just doing half the job. Given the effort it takes to change an organization, why would you fail to ensure that the change is a long-lasting, permanent improvement?
Comments are welcome, especially if you have examples of how your organization handled the change in the pace of life as a marketer.