Marketing Change Management: How to Influence It [Backed By Science]

How To Influence Marketing Change Management [Backed By Science] 70

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How to Influence Marketing Change Management [Backed By Science]

Something is broken.

Maybe it’s your workflow. Maybe it’s how you collaborate across multiple teams. Maybe it’s knowing how the content you produce influences ROI.

At CoSchedule, we know you’d like help to get organized… and to do that, you might need to pitch CoSchedule to your boss and to your team.

^^^ So whatever snag you’re hitting as you manage your marketing team, chances are… something needs to change before it will get better.

And the best person to influence that change for the better is you.

So the question becomes… how can you do it?

It takes some finesse with office relationships, psychology behind change management, and perseverance.

Let’s explore how you can be the marketing change management mastermind. ;)

Get Your Marketing Change Management Timeline Template

Use the free spreadsheet that complements this blog post to plan your marketing change management strategy. You’ll put everything you’ll learn throughout this post into a plan you can execute.

You’ll also get a marketing change management template in Word to help you communicate effectively with your manager, team, and stakeholders.

Go ahead. Download fo’ free now!

Step 1: Create The Business Case For Change

Yeah, I know what you're thinking.



Creating a doc to have one version of the truth—a reference point for questions—will help you convince your manager and team that change is needed.

There are three key points to address in your change management business case doc:

#1. Show There Is Need For A Change

You feel when you need a change. There is disorganization. There are poor results. There are missing pieces.

The best way to prove the need for change is with cold hard facts and brutal honesty. It's impossible to argue against factual information that informs your stakeholders why the change is necessary.

There are a few ways to do this:


Is what you're doing producing the results you expect?

For example, you may be spending a lot of time on trivial projects that don't actually produce repeatable, measurable results.

You could measure the hours you and your team spend on those projects in an average week. Then multiply the time by each employee's hourly wage to understand how much money the company literally spends on projects that do not actually add anything to your bottom line.

If you add up those dollar values and multiply by 52, you literally know how much money goes down the drain in a year.

You can ask your team to track their time over the course of an average week using a tool like Toggl. Then use the Time Tracking tab in your change management template spreadsheet that complements this blog post to track the time + spend on tasks:


Think about how much time you spend:

  • Switching in and out of tools not designed for the specific purpose you're using them for.
  • Making edits to content that won't actually make a difference in the end results it will produce (shooting for perfection is extremely expensive).
  • Getting approval after you create content (then reworking nearly everything).

With very simple math, you can demonstrate how expensive these activities are, thus showing the need for change.

Pro Tip: You can also use this method to show what you could be doing with your time that would generate bigger results. So, let's say you find that logging in and out of multiple tools + disorganization sucks up 4 hours of your week. Is that the same amount of time it would take you to write a blog post? There is proof: When we find a tool that is designed to help my team be more productive, we will write more blog posts which are proven to help us grow the business.

Hour X Wage = Cost of Project

Another data example involves analyzing the success of your best-performing content.

What if you focused more time shipping new projects that are similar to your existing top-performers?

From experience, I can tell you that you don't need to publish more content, but the same amount of the right content. And you could boost your results by 9,360%.

No joke.

Here is how to calculate this quickly, but read this for an exhaustive, in-depth guide:

  1. Set up goal tracking in Google Analytics and create a custom report to easily view the content that contributes to those goals. Here are in-depth instructions to help you do this in 5 minutes or less.
  2. Create a list of the last 30 pieces you published that are at least 30 days old. Use the Content Grading tab in your change management template to do this.
  3. Write down the amount each piece has contributed to your goal by using the Google Analytics custom report. To make this an even fight for each piece, I like to collect data from the first 30 days after publish, so every piece has an equal amount of time to contribute to your goal.
  4. Sort your content by your goal, peruse through those top-performing pieces, and write down the qualities you see repeated over and over. For example, at CoSchedule, the qualities we saw repeated over and over again were an interesting topic, well-researched and factual, comprehensive + actionable, keyword-driven, and optimized to convert traffic into email subscribers.
  5. Find the average goal contribution from every piece in your sample. If you continue status quo, this is what you will continue to produce. Then find the average contribution from your top 10 pieces. It's way higher, right!? Now you know if you publish the same amount of content, and simply match the qualities from your top-performers, you will boost your results.

^^^ And there you have it. Proof that you need to pivot to increase your team's performance.

Examples where this method may work best for demonstrating the need for change:

  • You don't currently have a way to measure how what you're doing is working.
  • You hypothesize that doing more (or less) of something will produce better results.
  • Bureaucracy has you doing the same old thing because... "We've always done it this way."
  • You want to create new content initiatives and need to prove that they'd be well worth your time.


You might not have content that exists to help you prove you need to do more of what's already working. That's where examples come into play.

Examples are also proof, or evidence, of a need for change.

You can:

  • Demonstrate a broken internal process by showing the inefficiencies of your current workflow. Again, inefficiency is expensive, and you could back this up with numbers using the process above. Examples: Workflows, approval processes, collaborating across multiple teams.
  • Show an interesting use case with the new marketing idea from any other company. Then connect the dots to how you could do it for your business. Researching the data behind this makes your change management business case that much stronger. Example: You believe a blog would be great for your business, but you know there will be some resistance. Find examples of successful businesses that have built their credibility with a blog and are now multi-million dollar enterprises.
  • Show how your competition is doing something amazing, but you don't have a presence in that area. This appeals to the fear of missing out, or FOMO. Example: You know your audience uses Instagram and would like to have a presence, but you're hitting some resistance. Find examples of your competition engaging with your audience on that channel as proof that your audience indeed uses that network to communicate with brands they love.

Industry Trends

If there is one thing that's constant, it's change. Especially in the marketing industry: New technology, new channels, and new ideas are ever-evolving.

This is similar to examples, but you can:

  • Cite credible industry publications that cover new changes. Look for the why behind this: Why should you use the new tool, social media channel, or new content idea?
  • Look for case studies that demonstrate the value of the trend. Has anyone (even outside of your niche) published a piece that shows percentage increases or demonstrates what you'll get out of the new idea?

You'll note, I led this section with more examples of finding your own real data to prove why you need to change. Using your data as much as possible builds the strongest case for the change you'd like to implement.

It's hard to argue with your facts versus how others have been successful.

It's hard to argue with your facts, versus how others have been successful.

#2. Show How You Will Thrive After The Change

You've shown evidence that suggests change is necessary. Now it's time to demonstrate the benefits behind making the change.

An easy way to think about this, is with a simple framework:

When we {do this}, we will {get this}.

Note when there. When demonstrates an inevitability whereas if is only possible.

Let's look at an example here, using examples and data to prove the need for change + backing up how implementing that change will help you produce bigger results.

The example is a broken process. I hear from marketing supervisors all the time that disorganized process and "herding cats" sucks the most time away from their days, preventing them from focusing on the strategic work that would generate bigger results.

To prove the need for change, you:

Lay out the example of what the existing workflow looks like.

Leave no stone unturned: Every step, every person involved, every tool, every point of communication, and especially the parts that are broken.

For you, this could be writing a white paper. The workflow involves:

  1. Email: Gather the idea from the sales manager.
  2. Email: Determine who the subject matter expert is with the sales manager.
  3. Meeting: Interview with the sales team member who is a subject matter expert on the topic to gather the story.
  4. Email: Hound the sales team member to provide stats + facts to support the claims you'll make in the white paper.
  5. Google Docs: Write the "What's in it for me?" and outline.
  6. Email: Peer review the outline with the subject matter expert.
  7. Google Docs: Write the first draft.
  8. Email: Gather feedback on the first draft from the subject matter expert.
  9. Google Docs: Implement the feedback from the subject matter expert into the white paper.
  10. Email: Gather further feedback from the subject matter expert.
  11. InDesign: Design the white paper.
  12. Email: Gather further feedback from the subject matter expert.
  13. InDesign: Implement changes from subject matter expert.
  14. Email: Get approval from the sales manager.
  15. InDesign: Implement changes from sales manager.
  16. Email: Get approval from your manager.
  17. InDesign: Implement changes from your manager.
  18. Email: Give final draft to sales manager and your manager to distribute to internal staff.

^^ If that even looks remotely like your workflow, there is definitely a better way.

By showing something like this, you demonstrate the problem. Now you can show off the solution.

When we cut several unnecessary approval steps, we will save my team 5 hours of productivity time every week. That's the same amount of time it takes to write a brand new white paper, which is proven to generate 150 marketing qualified leads when we write it like our top-performing white papers.

Therefore, when we don't change, we are literally wasting time on a broken process rather than focusing our time on generating bigger results. Here's how.

  1. Weekly Meeting: Gather the story from the sales manager and subject matter expert with clear action items for sales to provide stats on time saved from our solution + percentage increase on their desired goal by the end of the week.
  2. Google Docs (integrated into CoSchedule): Write the "What's in it for me?" and outline.
  3. CoSchedule: Peer review the outline with the subject matter expert.
  4. Google Docs: Write the first draft.
  5. CoSchedule: Gather feedback on the first draft from the subject matter expert.
  6. InDesign: Design the white paper.
  7. CoSchedule: Get approval from the sales manager + your manager.
  8. InDesign: Implement changes from sales manager + your manager.
  9. CoSchedule: Give final draft to sales manager and your manager to distribute to internal staff.

Two workflow examples

^^^ You just literally cut the amount of work in half, not to mention eliminating endless email strings that are super easy to miss.

Now you can track how long it would take for each step from the existing process and subtract the time saved from your new process. So all 18 tasks minus the 9 you removed would be the equivalent of 5 hours in this example. This doesn't even take into account the feeling of being organized, which everyone involved in the process will also love!

#3. Show The Roadmap To Get There

It's one thing to know what you need to do. Now you need to lay out the plan to implement the change.

Humans are naturally adverse to change, so the odds are this will not happen over night. In fact, if you've been following an old process for a long period of time, it may take up to 21 days to help your team members build new habits.

Therefore, your roadmap to onboard your team members to learn this new behavior should span several weeks. In this time period, you will want to literally lay out your game plan schedule of what you'll do to make the change stick.

  • Pre-rollout: Gather the data, examples, and industry trends demonstrating the need for change.
  • Pre-rollout: Create your timeline for implementing the change.
  • Pre-rollout: Script the questions, roadblocks, and objections that have potential to mitigate change.
  • Pre-rollout: Discuss the forces driving change, timeline, and scripts with your manager.
  • Day 1: All hands kickoff meeting. Your itinerary should cover the three things you've been learning about: The problem (what's wrong), the solution (why this change is necessary now), and the roadmap you're creating at this moment. You should also leave time for questions + answers (more on this to come).
  • Day 2: Implement your team's initial feedback into the new solution.
  • Day 3: Show your team that you took their advice and enhanced the new solution.
  • Day 4: Remind your team to use the new solution.
  • Day 5: Retro and iterate.
  • Weekend
  • Day 8: Ask your team informally how things are going. Instant message could work well. This reminds everyone (especially your most quiet team members) that they have a voice in the change process.
  • Day 9: Implement the feedback into your process, and remind the team to use it and not retrogress to old behavior.
  • Day 10:
  • Day 11:
  • Day 12: Retro and iterate.
  • Weekend
  • Day 15: Again, ask your team informally how things are going, and look for feedback.
  • Day 16: Implement the feedback into your process, and remind the team to use it and not retrogress to old behavior.
  • Day 17:
  • Day 18:
  • Day 19: Retro and iterate.
  • Weekend

You can map out your game plan in CoSchedule, too, using a Marketing Project. When you decide to use CoSchedule, everyone will see everything you're working on in one place... so why not add this into CoSchedule, too? ;)


Step 2: Be Prepared + Proactive For Any Situation

Bill Walsh was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, and helped turn a losing football team into one of the best, winning three Super Bowls.

^^ Talk about change management.

Walsh is known for planning his plays for every scenario. He carefully planned exactly what play would work for specific situations like being 30 yards from the end zone with only 5 seconds on the clock. He's known for having planned the first several plays of the game whether the 49ers were kicking or receiving.

In short, Bill Walsh planned his work, then worked his plan.

He called this practice scripting. And it's a great framework you can apply to your change management, too:

Scripting allowed me to take randomness and stress out of the decision-making process. The result is a very adaptable but intelligent plan for the future. —Bill Walsh

Anticipate Questions

Uncertainty avoidance is the psychological term used to describe a specific society's tolerance for ambiguity.

While this term is generally used to describe larger cultures as a whole, your team and business have a culture within them, too. And the main idea here is that people like process, rules, and the same-old-same-old because it's familiar, easy to remember, and they already have habits that literally help them do the work with less thought and effort than taking on something new.

Knowing this, you can plan on the questions your team will ask as you make the change. This is your script for an FAQ (or frequently asked questions) for your team.

Simply take 30 minutes to brainstorm all of the questions your team may ask, then write down the answers:

  1. Why this change?
  2. Why now?
  3. What do you expect from me now?
  4. How will we collaborate now?
  5. What aren't we doing anymore?
  6. What new things are we doing?
  7. How should I voice my feedback?

The point here is to think through the most common questions you can realistically expect your team and stakeholders to ask you, so you have all the answers prepared in advance.

You can use the change management Word doc template that complements this blog post to help you get started.

Anticipate Roadblocks

Again, change is often difficult for people to accept. Most people are satisfied with status quo, in other words, doing exactly what they're doing now.

Back in 1947, psychologist Kurt Lewin researched this phenomenon and came up with the force field analysis. Essentially, there are forces driving change while other forces restrain change, which makes it most comfortable for people to stay in the status quo.

Why It's Hard to Move Past Status Quo

You are the force driving change within your organization. So you should prepare for how you'll address the forces resisting change:

  1. How will you phase out old, outdated tools you no longer need to use? What does the timeline look like?
  2. How will you onboard your team members to use the new tools as you expect? What does the timeline look like?
  3. How do you take into account everything else on your team's plate and the time it takes to learn new skills (100 hours per person)?
  4. What will you do if a team member does not adopt the new process from the get-go?
  5. What will you do if a team member tries the new process for a day, then regresses to their former behavior?
  6. How will you handle team members who actively fight against the new process and try to get other team members on their side?
  7. How will you agilely learn from your success and mistakes as your team implements change?

Like your FAQ, think through and script the answers to these questions. When—or if—the situation arises, you've planned exactly how to get your change strategy back on track.

Anticipate Objections

Your own team may fight for the status quo without really knowing why. This could be a force resisting change, or once again, a few more scenarios to script for:

  1. I don't think this will work.
  2. I don't like the new process.
  3. This is taking even more time than before the change.
  4. We can't remove those steps from our workflow because of {insert excuse}.

Change is an emotional beast. The best thing to do, according to change management pros, is to address these concerns with factual evidence backing up the need for change.

Step 3: Get Your Manager On Board

Those same change management pros suggest change is best instituted from the top-down.

So once you have your game plan, it's probably time to loop in your manager to get her on the same page as you (and to have your back if the forces of resistance get in the way of the forces driving change).

Set up an hourlong meeting your manager with the following agenda:

  • 10 minutes: Explain the existing problem.
  • 10 minutes: Show the evidence that the problem is a big one.
  • 10 minutes: Show the roadmap you'll use to implement the change.
  • 10 minutes: Show your proactive planning to address the forces of resistance.
  • 10 minutes: Chat through how you'll communicate the change with your team (and get their feedback), next steps, concerns, and when you will roll out the change.
  • 10 minutes: Lay out your action items to work through after the meeting is over.

Set up an hour meeting with your manager

^^^ Those sections might feel a little long, but the point is for this to be a working meeting. Let your manager ask questions throughout, and show up ready to take notes so you can improve your marketing change management strategy based on her feedback.

What If Your Manager Doesn't Like The Suggested Change?

This is where you can use questions as a framework to understand how you can improve your pitch (or at least understand what the heck your manager is thinking):

  1. Why {do you believe that}?
  2. How {might you suggest I do that}?

If you're way off, schedule a second meeting with your manager (with the same agenda) to show her how you took her advice and will implement it in your strategy.

Step 4: Involve The Team Early On

No one really likes to be told what to do. On the other hand, involving your team members early and helping them help you make the change decisions makes them feel like they made them in the first place.

In their book, Sprint: How To Solve Big Problems And Test New Ideas In Just Five Days, authors Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz suggest:

By asking people for their input early in the process, you help them feel invested in the outcome. Later, when you begin executing your successful solutions, the experts you brought in will probably be among your biggest supporters.

So... how can you involve your team + stakeholders early on?

Host A Process Change Kickoff Meeting With Everyone Involved In The Change

You pretty much have the itinerary from the chat with your manager (but make a couple optimizations here):

  • 10 minutes: Explain the existing problem.
  • 10 minutes: Show the evidence that the problem is a big one.
  • 10 minutes: Show the roadmap you'll use to implement the change.
  • 20 minutes: Give your team the chance to provide feedback right now, but also give them some time afterward to let the ideas percolate. This gives your quiet folks the chance to digest the information and provide thoughtful insight afterward. Beware of the psychological principle of conformity (and keep your loud team members in check).
  • 10 minutes: Lay out your action items to work through after the meeting is over.

^^^ You have all of that documented in your marketing change management template.

Provide Time To Think Through Feedback

Give your team a deadline to provide their feedback and provide the method to do it (email, instant message, etc.). You can plan this into your change management roadmap.

If anything, this keeps the process moving forward (and on a schedule) so you can fix what's broken quickly.

Incorporate Feedback Into Your Change Management Process

When you ask for feedback, you take it. That said, not all feedback will improve the plan.

The point is to literally help your team know and understand you are listening to them, that their thoughts are valuable, and you understand they will be the major players implementing the change.

So change the roadmap as needed and clearly communicate you heard every idea and implemented many, but it just wasn't possible to include everything they requested.

Retro On What's Working, What's Not, And What You Could Improve

I'm borrowing this from agile product management practices. Every Friday, the marketing team at CoSchedule retros on the week, asking three questions:

  1. What went well? What should we continue doing?
  2. What went wrong? What should we stop doing?
  3. What could we improve?

Retros like this are great for gathering feedback from your team as you change their processes. I'd suggest hosting 15-minute retro meetings every week within your first 21 days specifically to discuss the change you're implementing to learn from your mistakes (and successes).

Ask These Three Questions to Retro

As feedback rolls in, you can use all of the work you put into writing scripts to great use!

Step 5: Break Through The Resistance To Change

Change of any kind requires breaking existing habits. And that is really difficult... because humans literally need habits to not think through the nitty-gritty details of everything in their lives (we would all go crazy).

So, to influence the right behavior, the most important thing to do is to over-communicate with your team as they undergo change.

As Bill Walsh said:

We did the same drills over and over again; I said essentially the same thing over and over, discussed the same information, concepts, and principles over and over. Gradually, my teaching stuck.

If it starts to become a joke that your team knows exactly what you're going to say next... you've done well.

So plan your communication touch points in your change management timeline to remind yourself when to communicate.

The point is: When your team starts to think like you, they'll start to act like you.

^^^ And that's exactly what you want.

Which brings me to leading by example.

Maintain zero tolerance for retrogressing behavior. If you see someone do something wrong, use your scripts to change the behavior and ask the following questions:

  1. What went wrong?
  2. Why did this happen?
  3. How can we make sure this doesn't happen again?
  4. How can we get this situation back on track?

The point of using questions like this as a framework is to literally let your team member answer them. They come up with their own solution for preventing unwanted behavior. And they know your thought process + expectations upfront.

There is no room in change management for being wishy-washy.

Finally, commitment and perseverance influence change.

This process has potential to feel messy.

Remember: You are the change management leader. You are responsible for planning your work, then working your plan. You are the one who will make this a reality.

You just need to do it.

About the Author

Demand generation enthusiast, content marketing advocate, and team player. I love new ideas, strategy, and efficiency.

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