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Building An Experience-Led Business That Ignites Change

Building an experience-led business is the number-one agenda topic for marketers in 2016. But how do you make it happen?

This was the theme at two forums of an ongoing series recently hosted by Adobe at Ad Week and Adobe Summit. Chaired by CMO.com columnist and marketing thought-leader Thomas Barta, senior marketers and business leaders developed six ideas on how to drive experience-led change inside their organisations.

Customer experiences that are consistent, continuous, and compelling are much talked about—but much harder to deliver. They require organisational alignment and the breaking down of traditional siloes across the business. Driving this change without authority is almost impossible.

Leading marketing can be tough, as Thomas examined in an earlier cmo.com article. Based on lessons learnt, the forum participants developed six possible strategies marketers can deploy to break down internal barriers and build a customer-centred business.

1. Get A Seat At The Table
Although marketers are keen to establish their role in leading a customer-centric transformation of their business, as Simon Michaelides, executive commercial director at UKTV, stressed, “The business doesn’t always necessarily recognise marketing as important. It’s for marketers to make the case.” This was echoed by Emma Isaac, group brand and marketing director from Barclays Bank, who suggested marketers are well placed to create the vision for the business, however, they need “to be very clear on how the vision relates back to the metrics and the data that drives it, so that it is grounded.”

2. Simplify The Message
Once a seat at the table has been achieved, marketers need to be able to articulate their vision to the whole business. UKTV’s Michaelides felt that marketers often need to learn the language of the boardroom and drop the marketing jargon. Equally, the vision needs to be kept simple, and delivered in a way that everyone from the shop floor to the C-suite can understand. Chris Taylor, chief information officer at Telegraph Media Group, shared his business’s experience, which was at first “quite unnerving for people,” but was, ultimately, liberating for staff as it was “simplified down into two or three key messages or initiatives” that people could understand.

3. Generate Insights That Drive Action
Customer data is key to driving successful experience-led businesses. Nour Mickail, market research manager at British Airways, outlined how they had not only put data at the heart of their marketing, but also disseminated insights to help drive change across the whole business. However, Brian Corish, head of digital for Vodafone Ireland, said sometimes the smallest piece of insight can provide the biggest impact when trying to communicate your vision to the C-suite. Meanwhile, for Tesco’s online product director Sean O’Neill, “data democratises decisions” and can help create real outcomes that get stakeholder buy-in; it also brings clarity to what success means for the business.

4. Ask For Forgiveness, Not Permission
In a world where customers expect real-time responses from businesses, agility is key. Giles Richardson, ‎head of analytics at RBS, claimed that it’s imperative to get a buy-in from above to give staff “a mandate and autonomy to change things and make them better.” But sometimes, to make important ideas happen, leaders have to go ahead without asking for permission—which is ultimately “liberating, if a little scary,” especially for senior management.

5. Facilitate Change
Although marketers can be central to driving business change, they can often face barriers in putting their vision into action. Getting others to endorse your idea at a senior level can encourage buy-in, but, in some cases, marketers have to “start the dance” but then be prepared to step back and let someone else within the business deliver it. Kerry Rheinstein from Future Foundation highlighted how Mastercard has benefited from bringing in successful digital entrepreneurs to help them solve their problems as they drove change across the business.

6. Be Flexible
Transformation brings a new requirement for businesses—agility. Agility needs to reflect the fast pace of change, which also determines the roles marketers play within the organisation. Jo Moore, worldwide brand director at Lenovo, claimed that staff within their business need to adapt to change, as they may move from one role or product to another and are often required to hit the ground running. However, “this only works if the business culture is prepared for change, especially in a world where the business needs to change all the time.”

We’ll continue to develop these ideas in the coming forums with input from additional leaders.

How did you make change happen? Please share your ideas here.

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