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Over the course of 40 years, Dr. John Kotter developed an 8-step change management process.
Its scope is incredible. And it’s worked in organizations big and small for decades.
Do you want to lead change in your team, your company, or even in your own life?
If so, there’s huge value there.
As marketers, though, we can take a leaner approach and apply it even faster…
…even by the time you’re done reading this post.
This post is for you if you want to:
You will learn three simple steps to leading (and sustaining) change.
As you’ll see, each step is directly driven by your team’s goal.
At CoSchedule, we talk a lot about goals…
They’re incredibly important.
In fact, our own research shows marketers who set goals are 429% more likely to be successful than those who don’t.
I’m not talking about fluffy New Years’ resolutions, either.
(^^^ After all, the University of Scranton found that 92% of people who make those resolutions don’t hit them.)
Specific means there is a number and a deadline on your calendar.
Challenging means it will achieve significant growth in your team, organization, or personal career.
For example, you may want to leverage this change management process to revolutionize the way your team works.
We work with thousands of marketers in over 100 countries.
One thing unites them all: they are done with the old, outmoded, crappy way marketing works.
And thousands of smart marketers are sick of letting it gobble up their budgets and productivity.
While thousands have defeated this ugly beast…
…it’s taken a dead-serious approach to do so.
In this case, setting the specific and challenging goal of transforming from the old way things worked, to the new way.
You have to overcome the reality of change aversion. This is our natural inclination to resist change…
…and even to reject a new solution as “bad” because it’s “different.”
You have to fight this in your team — and even in yourself.
Setting a specific and challenging goal is your first step.
It might look something like this:
We will refine all of our marketing processes for maximum efficiency by July 1, 2018.
Your goal specifically outlines the change you’re after AND puts a date on the calendar.
This is the focusing force of your new change management process:
First up, let’s talk urgency.
Recently, I met with my boss, our head of demand generation.
I’d been working on a project with a pretty important goal. And while I was working hard, my progress didn’t have quite the velocity we needed it to.
So we had a frank conversation.
He told me, “We’re accelerating the timeline. We’re hitting your goal this week, not next month.”
…my roadmap had a few weeks left to make the project successful.
After this conversation, there was just five days!
Thankfully, Nathan didn’t simply dump an impossible deadline on my shoulders.
He offered to go shoulder to shoulder and help accelerate growth.
And in just five days, we accomplished what I’d planned on achieving in weeks.
How did we do this?
Urgency is “a force or impulse that impels or constrains.” And it’s a productive marketer’s secret weapon.
It makes you focus, prioritize, and then act.
Now, what is your goal?
There are many levers to pull to increase urgency in accomplishing it…
…but the most powerful is loss aversion.
For human beings “losses loom larger than gains…and the pain of losing is psychologically about twice as powerful as the pleasure of gaining.”
(Kahneman & Tversky, 1979)
If you’ve ever done any conversion copywriting, you understand this.
People prefer to avoid loss rather than acquiring equivalent gains.
For example, what’s more compelling to you…
…not losing $100 you have?
…or gaining $100 you don’t have?
Psychologically, we work harder to avoid loss than to make gains.
This is the first lever you can pull to create a sense of urgency. Ask yourself:
What will I lose if I don’t meet [your goal] by [specific date]?
The bigger the goal, the more you have to lose by not hitting it.
As depressing as this may sound, it’s actually invigorating to see what’s really at stake if you (and your team) do not change.
Next in our change management process, take action and get to quick wins with minimum viable marketing.
It helps you quickly test ideas to learn what works — and what doesn’t — before you heavily invest into marketing campaigns or projects destined for failure.
In Garrett Moon’s new book, 10x Marketing Formula, he devotes an entire chapter to Minimum Viable Marketing (MVM).
The MVM concept stems from the minimum viable product (MVP) methodology, which was popularized in the world of startups by Eric Ries in a book called The Lean Startup. At their essence, MVPs are a way of quickly validating business ideas by producing the minimum number of features to satisfy early customer or audience needs. The MVP process decreases risk by testing assumptions against reality.
For our simple change management process, MVM is the perfect framework for action.
First, because it enables you and your team to rack up quick wins that get fast results and build momentum.
Second, because it actually allows you to decrease long-term risk by testing ideas in small before you roll them out in large.
Here’s an excellent example Garrett cites in 10x Marketing Formula:
In 1981 American Airlines was in dire financial straits. They were low on cash and high on expenses. This is never a good place to be. To pull themselves from the money pit, they cooked up what seemed a clever, homerun of a marketing campaign. To get millions dripping into their coffers, they offered unlimited first-class travel for life for $250,000.
To most of us, a quarter-million bucks sounds steep (and it’s roughly $600,000 in today’s dollars). However, to the consumers who spend as much time in the air as they do on the ground, this was an incredibly good deal.
A Los Angeles Times interview recounts one of the frequent flyers who took advantage of this deal:
“We thought originally it would be something that firms would buy for top employees,” said Bob Crandall, American’s chairman and chief executive from 1985 to 1998. “It soon became apparent that the public was smarter than we were.”
The unlimited passes were bought mostly by wealthy individuals, including baseball Hall-of-Famer Willie Mays, America’s Cup skipper Dennis Conner and computer magnate Michael Dell.
Mike Joyce of Chicago bought his in 1994 after winning a $4.25-million settlement after a car accident.
In one 25-day span this year, Joyce flew round trip to London 16 times, flights that would retail for more than $125,000. He didn’t pay a dime.
“I love Rome, I love Sydney, I love Athens,” Joyce said by phone from the Admirals Club at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. “I love Vegas and Frisco.”
American Airlines soon went upside down on this big bet—and they still kept it going for nearly ten years!
This historic marketing blunder is a good lesson for us 10x marketers. Because this story is far from an isolated incident.
Here’s how it goes. A giant X-factor company puts loads of money into a big campaign. Problem is, this campaign does more harm than good. And whether money is lost from lack of sales, or poorly projected financial impact, the big bet goes belly up.
So, test your assumptions by building in stages to learn as quickly as possible.
This method of MVM capitalizes on what startups call a “lean feedback loop.”
It works in three stages:
By working the change management process in this way, you’ll notice you are concerned with learning as much as winning.
Learning is winning.
Let’s look at some example projects…
Now that you’ve gotten results, it’s time to sustain the momentum you’ve created.
…but the truth is, none of it matters if you don’t maintain the results you’re getting.
This third step is the most important.
If you rest on yesterday’s success, you will be tomorrow’s failure.
Thankfully, this can be the easiest part of the process.
To sustain momentum, propel your team back into the process of urgency and action.
Simply continue the work you’ve done.
Double down on your wins…
And high-five yourself for the fast failures (because now you know what not to do!).
To propel your team to new results, you must lead them into new behaviors.
Your current results are a function of status quo behavior.
In essence, your outputs equal your inputs.
This simple process enables you to quickly prioritize and execute new inputs… And achieve those new outputs!
So, create a sense of urgency around your goal, run lean tests to hit it, then propelling yourself (and your team) back through that loop.
Some of my favorite examples of what this looks like in the real world aren’t even from my marketing team. They’re actually from our customers.
Foundation Recovery Systems struggled to plan ahead. They were stuck in a cycle of last-second content and ad hoc publishing.
Shannon, their director of marketing explains:
“Before CoSchedule, I would be sitting at a computer thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t have anything to post about today.’ It was my fear every single day. I had no organization. No way to pre-plan. There was no urgency or consistency.”
…and results like this aren’t an isolated incident…
PR agency Borshoff changed to creates AND publish 3.75x more content (every month)…
Pat Flynn’s team at Smart Passive Income changed to gain 34% more subscribers in less than 3 months…
And there are so many more examples.
If you want to bring this change management process together, get completely organized, and lead your team to the best results of your career, here’s your next step.
Ask every question you can think of. Get specific about your goals. And learn how to quickly achieve them with CoSchedule.
The ONLY marketing management platform built for marketers — by marketers.
In just 30 minutes, you can see how to get an eagle-eye view of every piece of content, all your campaigns, and each project in one place.
Plan content and automate publishing to save tons of time now.
Start your 14-day trial to get organized with CoSchedule today.