The sheer volume and pace of disruption across all sectors is paralysing businesses. Under pressure to keep up or stay ahead, and stuck at a digital impasse, businesses are faced with change from all angles and lack the ability or tools to break through.
In fact, call it what you want – change, disruption, digital transformation, growth sprint – around us, everything is shifting. We’re battling with audience engagement, how we can disrupt in the distribution channels, the technology we use to innovate, the execution methods to acquire and delight, changing revenue sources and, at the heart of it all, our business models.
But if change and disruption are the only constants, how do we win? We have to change our mindset and be willing to use that disruption to our advantage.
The nirvana for businesses in this new era is learning to love and leverage change and disruption in real time to make it work for us. To put us in control. To make us the disruptor, not the disrupted.
But failure to capitalise on rapid change in real time is a big problem because it’s one of the main tools left for companies to differentiate and compete.
And while it’s difficult to transform quickly in a time of continual change, high expectations, and the changing CMO remit, we marketers do have something up our sleeve.
Enter the changemakers: those who love and leverage change – not fear it.
In the driving seat to disrupt
Today, every business needs a changemaker to not only manage disruption and change, but to help transform the organisational culture – and use that change to grow, scale and compete in ever more commoditised markets.
But, too often, corporate environments are designed to reinforce compliance with the status quo rather than support change for the better, with senior stakeholders across the board unable to embrace change because it’s considered ‘too risky’.
Today’s CMO needs to be the changemaker that identifies and delivers positive change throughout constant disruption.
We need to break that digital impasse. And we can. While we talk about today’s CMO remit changing quicker than ever before, that’s possibly our greatest advantage.
Today’s CMO is radically different from the role that was once relegated to the ‘four Ps’. A role that’s often in a state of flux, but one that is now front and centre driving company direction and growth, seeking out commercial and strategic accountability across the C-suite. Today’s CMO needs to be the changemaker that identifies and delivers positive change throughout constant disruption.
Not only can leveraging change and disruption lead to organisational growth and increased customer lifetime value, but it can also help cement an internal culture of customer obsession.
Let’s look at four key areas where changing the customer experience through proactive change and disruption can help business to grow, scale and compete.
In our hyper-competitive world, standing out from the crowd has never been more important. So surviving in an era of killer competition is a primary focus for all business and marketing leaders.
To make headway in commoditised markets, businesses need to reconsider how they are perceived. Are you just one of a crowd offering good but indistinguishable products? Or do you have a distinctive offer, approach and image that burns your name into the minds of your prospects and customers?
Simply claiming superiority over rivals is often hard to substantiate. So it’s important to establish a point of difference early on in the life of a business, but it’s equally important to be ‘always on’ throughout the entire customer life cycle and react in the moment so that your point of differentiation lives, breathes, and adapts with you.
Changemaker CMOs kill ‘sameness’ strategies and focus on tactics to differentiate. They use constant change and disruption as a springboard to differentiate against the competition.
Organisational and technological enablement
This is where the CMO changemaker can have a huge impact, helping transform the organisation to be relentlessly focused on the customer experience, from acquisition to advocacy. With so many changing technology platforms and the increased adoption of similar marketing technology stacks, it’s the CMO who remembers the human connection and how driving a culture of customer obsession will win hearts and minds.
So many organisations strive to be customer-focused, but look under the hood and they’re still product-centric. Internal change is tough, but by owning the customer experience from start to finish with the right technology and new ways of working, the CMO can be central to sales, product, service and C-suite adoption.
How do you get ahead of rapid change to win new business? With ‘account-based experiences’, or ABE.
ABE gives you the ability to turn customer comms into customer conversations at a deeply personal level across every touchpoint. While traditional account-based marketing (ABM) is often transactional, ABE is transformational; it provides a memorable experience that extends beyond the first touchpoint to not just acquire but retain.
Using and reacting to changes in consumer habits and market developments to build your ABE strategy helps create an end-to-end experience that’s relevant, personal and memorable for prospects and customers – turning them into brand evangelists who’ll relay your message to the wider market.
This doesn’t require huge budgets, but it does require a relentless focus on the right output that delivers your point of differentiation at every touchpoint.
Engagement and advocacy
When you consider how much business comes from existing clients and their recommendations, this is an underinvested area.
How can the changemaker CMO shake this up and build customer loyalty through innovative change? By building deeper, emotional relationships – and by doing it early on in the customer life cycle.
Emotion is the new blueprint for customer experiences. Shared beliefs lead to common ground and successful partnerships. Tapping into that deep human desire to ‘belong’ by building a community around your brand is essential not just to grow followers and your customer roster, but to nurture real supporters and advocates. Think about disruptive ways to create that sense of belonging.
Get closer to existing clients and really involve them in product and service development, and customer advisory boards; and develop advocacy programmes that reward your best customers. This will grow engagement levels and help you generate valuable customer-driven content around a series of reward-led advocacy initiatives that you can use to differentiate.
Create a reason for belonging and you’ll find that you manage to keep and engage prospects, customers and partners in more effective ways.
Forget the funnel: enter the flywheel
Much like a flywheel stores energy to propel forward with speed, marketers need to react to change with similar momentum in real time to make the most of it. Why? Because bringing about such positive disruptive change requires two things: pace and depth.
Quick and agile implementation is a must, not only to carry that momentum but to differentiate and deliver ahead of competitors. Depth is required to show change across all touchpoints, meaning the entire customer experience can be impacted in a more substantial and positive way.
Pace and depth are integral to a CMO’s arsenal as they bid to compete in rapidly changing global markets where meaningful customer experience now reigns supreme. Refocusing strategies around pace and depth will give marketers back their edge in a world of constant upheaval.
A lot has been said for martech and data analytics, and of course, these capabilities are now central, but it will be the ability to marry these up with the human skills of culture, values, emotion and creativity that will help you become a changemaker.
Guy Little is director of content at Tomorrow People, an award-winning content marketing agency helping ambitious companies use change to increase customer acquisition, retention, and advocacy so they can grow, scale, and compete.
Find out more at www.tomorrow-people.com