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Leading a marketing team to win feels amazing.
Smashing goals is gratifying.
But sustaining change in organizations…
…that’s the hard part.
We marketers face a tall order. Not only do we have to make hyper growth happen, we have to do it every day.
Every time we reach the summit of one goal, a taller one is just around the bend.
Your boss: “Did your team get 100 new leads last week?”
Your boss: “Nice work! But are you on track for 125 this week?”
You: “Well, that escalated quickly…”
In short, our job is to start from zero and soar past last week.
So, in this post I’m going to share with you how to to sustain those positive changes (and results) in your marketing team.
PLUS, because you’re awesome, I’ve got something extra special for you…
If you wanna learn why over 8,000 marketing teams across the world choose CoSchedule to organize and execute their entire marketing strategy in one place…
Now, pick a time for your 1-on-1 marketing demo…
…and let’s get to it.
Riffing on Aristotle, former Patriots offensive linemen, Matt Light, said in his retirement remarks:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” We hear it here five thousand times a week. Just worry about yourself, not others, make it part of your routine. Keep striving to do it better and better. The excellence we all shared as an organization, teammates, friends, everyone else. It’s not just as an act, it’s a habit, it’s how we live our lives, what we try to do day-in and day-out.
These words are wonderfully portable for anyone who cares about sustaining change in organizations.
Whether you’re a manager or team member, your team’s success is your success.
And that’s where positive, team-based habits come in.
According to a study in the British Journal of General Practice, the wild world of healthcare shows us this, as well.
Furthermore, even when patients successfully initiate the recommended changes, the gains are often transient because few of the traditional behaviour change strategies have built-in mechanisms for maintenance.
Unless positive changes become engrained habits, achieving goals will become the exception rather than the rule.
That same psychological study defines habits this way:
“…actions that are triggered automatically in response to contextual cues that have been associated with their performance.”
For a marketer, this habit loop might look like this…
Your team is planning a new campaign. And you need to get everything organized…
That’s a lot of stuff. (And I’m probably missing plenty of other things you do.)
So, be honest. What’s your go-to action given the “contextual cue” of planning a new marketing campaign?
For tons of marketers, it’s pulling out ye olde spreadsheet!
Everything gets a tab. Everyone gets access on your internal drive or Dropbox account. And in short order, chaos ensues.
^^^These are actual screenshots of spreadsheets, calendars, and systems CoSchedule customers have transitioned from over the years!
In our experience, this is one of the most difficult traps (and series of habits) to break for marketers.
But there’s good news ahead!
This step is complete when your automatic action (read habit) is completed. Then, one more thing happens.
In his best-selling book, The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg outlines a third piece to the habit puzzle: reward.
The reward reinforces the habit loop. With every completion, the habit gets more powerful.
In this case, the spreadsheet gives a sense of control, organization, and peace of mind.
The problem is that it quickly becomes messy. Often, you’ll end up with spreadsheets to manage your spreadsheets!
The linchpin to sustaining changes in your organization, then, is leading the right habits…
…so you get the right results consistently.
Just imagine if your team smashed your marketing goals with the same frequency as brushing your teeth?
^^^ That’s habit 101.
Let’s talk about how to move from marketing mess… To marketing mastery.
To help your team, I suggest this 3-step approach.
First things first, pull a Stephen Covey…
“Begin with the end in mind.”
Start with your team’s goal (or goals). Then reverse engineer the consistent actions your team must habitually take to get there.
For example, let’s imagine your team needs to grow social media engagement by 25% month-over-month across all channels.
If I pull our “Social Engagement Report” in CoSchedule, I can get a quick overview of where we stand. Both for an aggregate average and individual networks.
From this baseline, you can reverse engineer your ideas, tests, and tactics to grow your engagement.
But just as important, you can learn what your team must be doing every week to keep engagement going up and to the right.
Intense sprints will give your key metrics a lift in the near term. But it’s turning your highest-value actions into habits that help you win in the long term.
For instance, if you learn that social images get a higher engagement on your social channels, the new habit should be that everything your team does has 3 – 5 promo images.
(You can use visual storytelling frameworks like microcontent to do this with great results, by the way.)
Or perhaps video does really well with your tribe.
The new behavior to automate might become a Facebook live video promoting every new post you publish.
Here’s the anatomy:
You might be wondering, “How is this different than simply adding an item to your team’s workflow?”
It’s distinct because of its emphasis on engraining a behavior versus checking a box.
For you, as the team leader, leveraging the power of habits means automating behaviors.
When you put the right things on autopilot, they move themselves ahead with little (or no) friction.
To do this means using the “A” word…
Accountability gets a bad rap.
And that’s because inherent is the threat of punishment.
If you’re accountable for your actions, you’re responsible for their outcomes.
A multi-year study involving over 40,000 participants found:
“Accountability is incorrectly perceived as strictly consequential and almost entirely after-the-fact—80% of those surveyed say feedback is something that happens to them only when things go wrong or not at all.”
But what if accountability could be more positive than negative?
It can. And it starts with ditching the word while leveraging the essence.
Accountability is about: clarity, alignment of actions with goals, and enablement of the right behaviors.
Another alarming stat from the accountability study is:
“85% of survey participants indicated they weren’t even sure what their organizations are trying to achieve…”
The quickest path to a homerun here is simple: be ultra clear with what results your team is after.
Is there one overarching goal you’re hell bent on achieving?
Then talk about that. Every. Dang. Day.
Is there a long-term goal supported by smaller, short-term goals?
^^^ This is the case for nearly every team I’ve ever worked on.
If this is true, then keep your short-term goals in perspective. Help your team see how they accomplish your overall mission.
One of the best ways to do this is through twice-per-week numbers check in.
If we stick with our social engagement example, here’s what it could look like.
With CoSchedule, you can automate key reports. So let’s automate the social engagement report.
(If you don’t use CoSchedule, totally okay. You can still do this.)
Navigate to your analytics tab, then choose Social Engagement Report.
Next, simply click on the Schedule Report button.
Then add any team members or stakeholders who should see this report.
Your progress will be automatically reported to everyone involved…
…without you having to pull numbers yourself 🤓
The key here is to keep your team focused on the goal even amidst the deluge of modern marketing.
Now comes the supercharging power of habits.
By consistently performing the right actions, your team will move the needle in the right direction.
As you keep the mission in front of your team, help them understand the best actions to take them there.
One of the best places to do this is in your team meetings.
And you can begin by having everyone answer this simple question:
“If you could only do one thing every day to achieve [team goal], what would it be?”
Have everyone answer the question.
Then, ask them to explain why that action is so powerful.
And now, enable those positive behaviors with a third question:
“What roadblocks are there between you and consistently [taking desired action]?”
This is where you come in.
As a team leader, you should be an obstacle bulldozer.
It’s tough enough to form new, positive habits.
(And break negative ones while you’re at it.)
So clear the debris and get the crap out of the way.
Clear the clutter between your team and their most critical actions.
Then keep doing this.
If your team is supposed to increase social engagement, and creating short promo videos to promote a piece is their desired activity, you’d better make sure they aren’t stacked with a bunch of stuff that makes it impossible to get it done.
To bring this all together, the best way forward is for you to get clear on what the next 21 working days should look like.
Scientifically, it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days to establish a new habit, with the average being 66 days.
So, you can go for the hail mary and push your team for 66 days…
…if you’d like.
However, I suggest a quicker win: build a 21-day habits roadmap for your team.
“[I]f you want to change behavior, your metric must be tied to the behavioral change you want.”
So focus the roadmap on the singular, most important behavior you’d like to download into each team member.
This can be super simple.
They key here is to show your team that you’re committed to helping them build this habit just as much as they should be.
Create a Projects Checklist.
Assign it to the right team member and set its completion date 21 days from now.
Then, assign the appropriate actions.
A clever way to start is by having each team member outline their own habit loop.
How will they engrain this new high-value activity?
They should define a cue, routine, and reward.
Then, they should run through the habit loop every day for the next 21 working days.
This might look like:
Whatever it is, make sure you empower your team to make time each day.
To change results, you had to change behaviors.
To keep your results, you must sustain behaviors.
By using the biological superpower of habits, you can do this. To start:
If you’ve ever kicked the tires on CoSchedule, now is an incredible time to see how it can help establish the habit of organization, deadline smashing, and consistent behaviors.
The beauty of a tool built by marketers for marketers is that it’s an incredible upgrade from messy spreadsheets.
It’s powerful enough to consolidate your single-function tool set and manage everything in one place.
And it gives everyone an eagle-eye view of exactly what’s going on.
That’s what I call clarity!
The great news, you’re invited to a personalized marketing demo of CoSchedule.
In just 30 minutes, you can learn how CoSchedule can help your team stay rowing in the same direction every single day.
So pick a time for your free marketing demo and see if it’s the answer you’ve been looking for (in less than 30 minutes)!
Plan content and automate publishing to save tons of time now.
Start your 14-day trial to get organized with CoSchedule today.