In this week’s Process Session, we talk about the importance of selling your process model benefits using best practice marketing tactics and approaches. The transcript below has been lightly edited.
Sandeep: Selling the benefits of process modeling is difficult. In fact it’s one of the hardest things that any process modeling project undergoes. A lot of traditional ways of selling process models have been questioned before and some of them have not worked. Others may have but what we’re offering today is a fresh new way to look at how process models have been sold. More importantly the benefits of these process models.
I’d like to introduce you to Daniel Weatherhead who’s our marketing manager in Leonardo Consulting. He is here today to answer some of our questions and provide some guidelines on how process modeling or models can benefit from a marketing perspective.
Welcome to the show Daniel.
Daniel: Thanks Sandeep. It’s great to be here today.
Sandeep: So before we get into actually answering the question of how process modeling can leverage marketing, let’s get some of the basics correct first. So Dan in your point of view, what are some of the basic techniques the world of marketing can inform and can educate the people in the modeling world?
Daniel: What we’re talking about is a shift - a shift away from what we would call the old outbound marketing tactics. These are the tactics of the previous generation - the generation before. Interruptive tactics that don’t necessarily look to inform and educate but were very much placed there interruptively into people’s lives. Now think about your television ads, your radio ads, your newspaper, advertisements. These are the sort of things that shout at you. They are one-way traffic. People didn’t necessarily go seeking those messages.
Inbound marketing seeks to be different. It's where the actual audience, the reader, the customer is active in the way that they go out and source information. We as marketers or marketing communication professionals are looking to not just push a message but mostly to offer value. So we’re looking to educate and position our products and services, or the things that we specialize in – in an education realm – so we’re offering true value to the person who is on the other end. That might be the form of a blog or a video (like what we’re doing right now) or a downloadable discussion paper, podcast or some sort of a template.
Though that conversation where we’re positioning the person, business or the product as a thought leader in the space - as someone who can be trusted and relied upon. We’re not just trying to interrupt them and sell, sell, sell. More importantly is that activity needs to be follow-up actionable. With the bit of content – the market activity needs to be actionable. It can’t just be something that sits out there and doesn’t have an endpoint or followup.
So if someone reads a blog, if someone watches a video, there needs to be a clear ‘go and do this’ at the end of it.
We start to use other communication platforms like social media, targeted timely email campaigns to push those messages and push those pieces of educational content of value to the customers at the right time.
Sandeep: I think it’s interesting that you bring up inbound as opposed to the traditional ways of putting it in your face messaging, because I think in a lot of process models tend to or at least professionals in the process model industry tend to want to put models in the face of people so that they can so that they’ll think about them each time they need them.
I also like what you’re saying in a different way to approach the same problem is to draw them in, offer the value, get them excited about process models and the benefits of the process models. So bring them in as opposed to pushing it out forward.
On that note, would you offer some techniques - some specific technical steps that people listening in can follow in order to make sure that the, the benefits of process models are realized, by the audience, by the correct audience and they’re excited about having process models which as we know are valuable elements of any organization to understand the tendencies, relationships. How do we get them excited about this?
Daniel: I suppose if you strip back and you use some of those marketing tactics that marketers tend to use - it is very much knowing what you’re selling.
What actually are you selling? That’s not something that necessarily is difficult for people – most people have a good understanding of what it is that they’re doing -whether it selling be a toothbrush or an iPhone or a pair of headphones. They have an understanding about some of those key needs of the customer - but where the seams come apart in that process is that you start to not understand who we’re selling to.
Generally we talk about these big segment audiences as our target market. It might be a demographic. It might be a geographical spread about who we’re targeting. Inbound marketing looks at a much narrower focus or narrow target. We call that a persona. You might be familiar with persona. Persona is where you actually build up a profile of a target buyer. Rather than just getting small demographics, we start to think about what are the targets pain points in this area. What drives them in terms of their business? What are their challenges? How can we answer those challenges? What are the questions that they have?
What are the communication channels of this person may or may not focus on? What does their day look like? What are they do on the way to work? Do they have other pressures they bring in to their workplace? We all have other pressures we bring in to our workday - so let’s actually address those in the messaging that we do. So as we build up this persona of what this person looks like, we’re then able to execute marketing tactics accordingly.
I use ‘marketing’ in inverted commas because these tactics aren’t just in the realm of marketing. They just happen to be lumped in with us sometimes - but we can then leverage a whole range of tactics to suit that persona.
It might be the sort of information that we’re writing for them; it might be the video that we’re creating for them; it might be the sort of language we use and the way that we construct a blog post or it might be even the platform we use to reach that person. I suppose that that’s when we start to talk about communication channels.
Social media is just another form of communication. So if we think about things like emails and digital communication platforms, social media is just another way to do that - to reach people. But obviously we’ve got some of those personas to address.
How do we use social media blend to communicate accordingly those specific messages with those specific people. We might target them on Twitter or we might target them on LinkedIn. We might be using some of your internal social media channels. How do we start to engage people in a way that enables that informal conversation? We call it the 'digital watercooler' - where they might be able to share work in an open way for your team to start engaging where they may not normally. There’s a whole form of those internal platforms where people are allowed to informally communicate and chat and start to share ideas.
The whole idea is that as they share those ideas your team they will become more confident in the way that they build process models, build collaboration, build an understanding about what each other is doing in the business.
What we’re seeingis that an understanding of that persona now reaching out to a desired outcome in terms of the way they communicate and collaborating using some of those newer social media or newer communication platforms.
Sandeep: So I really like the idea of a persona and actually understanding your audience. I know that there’s tons of the internet about how to create personas and all this. So we won’t go into that in this session but certainly understanding your audience helps a lot and love the fact that there is a digital watercooler. I can just imagine that as, as you said it and input the process modeling world, the digital model cooler will actually make a lot of sense, to have a place where people can collaborate and really exploring the communication channels in which collaboration can be enabled. You talked about social media. I think that is absolutely crucial especially with the workforce that we are seeing these days.
There are so many social channels that you can explore doing that. My mom has about 11 ways to contact me - so you know, there is all of that and the organizations that I’ve been involved in especially I have seen at least 1 form of internal social collaboration point.
I think process modelers can actually leverage a lot of that and create their own digital water cooler to enable that collaboration.
So when, when I listen to all of this, I’m actually quite intrigued about what can do and how we can apply a lot of these techniques and a lot of these tactics that you speak about there. Do we wait until we’re done with process models to get excited about this -at what point in our journey should we be thinking about marketing our process models?
Daniel: As the marketer in the room I’m going to say you should be thinking about that yesterday. You should be starting right from the outset. From my perspective the reason why that should happen right from the start is because as we go about building those process models or as we go through that project and then we get to the point of starting to sell those models more broadly in the business, to have them used and useful - if we’re able to point to places on the project - even for people who are participating in the project - they can go and see where this collaboration is happening.
The great thing about social media channels most of them but they’re pretty open. They’re transparent. By building that internal transparency we’re able to see the communications that’s happening
If someone else has got the same sort of questions, they can see the exchange that is happening. We see that online every single day in the billions of forum post that go online that show us all collectively learning from each other’s questions and answers. If we can enable that within our own project and when we say enable that, we really to actually want to build those communication platforms. We want to encourage our teams to be using those.
We should be taking away that informal layer of composing a composed post and putting it out there - we want this to be a conversation - and so that’s where those Twitter like streams or Facebook like stream or, or slack like messaging apps; that’s where those tools encourage that informal conversation that go back and forth.
That again is visible and transparent by the person at the top. That needs to happen now. That needs to happen right at the start- not at the end, because then we’re starting to look back and say “Why was that conversation captured at the start?” We want to have these things captured from the start and have those strategic conversations now.
Sandeep: So it’s really common for a lot of projects especially for modeling projects to kind of leave it until the end. And I can see the, the benefit of actually starting way up ahead sooner rather than later because then you create that buzz. And not only do you create that buzz and awareness, what I’m also hearing from you is you’re creating an inclusive environment where people who are involved in projects like that can, can actually contribute to the project.
I think that that’s very valuable and, and immediately I can see some benefits - I’ll be excited if I was involved in a project way up ahead and people asking me for my input and I had some influence in the way things went.
I agree that the best time to start would be as soon as possible or at the start of the project. So, at that start of the project, would I as a process modeling professional bring along someone like yourself to be part of the team so a marketing professional, a marketing guru - someone who’s an expert in this field to come along and join me on the journey?
Daniel: Yes – as I said before, having someone who’s a communication professional involved - whether that be someone who’s a marketing person with a capital M or someone who is just engaged in leading communications for the project – who is able to point to people and say - “We need to be looking over the horizon - not just at the project we’re having to do right now but actually what’s it going to look like when we deliver this.”
Starting to think about the key personas that we’re going to have to address in the business is to get them engaged and excited. To have that person who can tie that all together, who is not necessarily doing the day to day modeling – for me that is crucial.
The job of that person that ties together all those strands, to actually help position, to help the modeler who has the expertise but maybe doesn’t maybe have the knowledge to tie that to a persona, and to tie that to an outcome, to tie that to a particular tactic - that’s where I see the role of the marketer to help in those situations.
The modeler is there just trying to do the work that he or she is trying to do - getting into thinking strategically - not just about the work they’re doing today - but what they’re doing now and how it’s going to impact someone when the modeler’s delivered of being used - that’s very, very difficult.
Having someone who’s the professional -who can create that strategic goal of what’s going to be delivered and what’s the benefit, as well as starting to that point to and create that timely bits of communication - whether that be social media or otherwise –within the organization to address those personas that have been agreed to by that team. That person is crucial for me to help build that engagement; the current engagement; the future engagement and also that excitement of delivering that unsexy model to the business.
Sandeep: So I think that, that, that there’s a lot of good insight here. I feel like world of marketing and the world of process modeling need to collaborate to in order to achieve success for any kind of process modeling project, any kind of process modeling endeavor and most importantly the process modeling journey as obviously as we all know we don’t stop at a single process, we keep going. So the ways that I can see, a lot of the principles of marketing being employed in the process modeling is more about the inbound - rather than putting it out into people’s faces - then I can also see some of the key techniques by creating the digital watercooler. I love that term.
Using personas and social media as a way to interact and understand your audience, - start at the at the word go - don’t wait until it’s too late. Don’t wait until the end of the project and involve the professionals like the marketing managers of the world. Every organization, every large organization at least should have access to a marketing professional. So involve them in the project as soon as you possibly can. I think some great insights come out of this discussion. So thank you very much for your time Daniel. and I really appreciate those insights you’ve given us.
Daniel: Great chatting and all the best on your modeling journey everyone.
Sandeep: All right. Now worries at all - so if you like this video click on the like button. , be sure to connect with us, Daniel and myself on LinkedIn and follow us on Twitter – and we’ll see you next time.