As many of us probably know, it’s not hard coming up with good ideas. The hard part is convincing others to support the ideas you’re proposing. When it comes to change management, having a marketing mindset can help.
By thinking about how to position your initiative, how to communicate your message, and how to present your ideas, you can build your professional brand and position yourself as a leader – and by extension, position your initiative for success.
Why a Value Proposition Matters for Change Management
In marketing, to communicate value, you need to have a clear value proposition – not just for your organization as a whole, but for every action you desire your audience to take. When you’re trying to drive change and gather support for a technology initiative, for instance, think about it a different way: Why should someone care about your initiative? What is the benefit for them?
When you’re thinking through how to position your initiative, consider a few questions:
- Appeal: How much do I desire this offer (e.g., what’s in it for me)?
- Exclusivity: Where else can I get this offer (g., is this only something I can do)?
- Credibility: Can I trust your claims (g., what’s the likelihood this will work)?
- Clarity: What are you actually offering (e.g., do I understand what you are trying to do)?
Maybe you want to automate public records requests. If you’re a city clerk, it will be faster and easier for you, letting you reclaim time for other things. But if you tell your colleagues “Hey, get on board; it will make my life so much easier,” the reaction likely won’t be positive.
Instead, try framing your initiative in ways that will matter to your audience:
- City Manager: “With this initiative, you’ll have a one-stop-shop to review and approve records before they’re released, saving you time and effort, and you don’t have to sort through file folders. It’s just one click from your phone.”
- Finance: “If we automate records requests, we can accept payment online. Not only will we increase revenue generation, we’ll actually save the time our staff spent gathering and copying records for distribution. Overall, it’s a big revenue win for our municipality – which will give us more flexibility to provide citizens with other services they’ve been requesting.”
- Legal Department: “If we automate records requests, we can automatically redact sensitive information before it’s sent out.”
You can see the difference!
Managing Your Message
Having a great idea and message for your project doesn’t matter if you’re not communicating it. And communicating doesn’t matter if your audience doesn’t understand the message.
Consider your various channels:
- Email: Every email you send affects your professional reputation, or brand. We often think about things like proofreading our emails for typos, but what about things like sending emails that are too long? Or CC’ing the wrong people? All of these affect the way people perceive you – and the message you’re trying to send.
- Social media: From accidentally mixing up personal and business accounts to inappropriately hijacking hashtags, social media is one area where it’s easy to go astray. Yet in an era where social media is a major channel for communication, it’s not reasonable to stay off social media entirely. Remember that the internet is forever. Assume that anyone – including your boss, your mother, your city council, and your kids – can see everything that you post.
- Meetings: When you’re running a meeting, the same considerations apply. Who are you talking to? What do they expect to hear? Effective meetings produce measurable results. If you run your meetings so “real work” gets done (not so people catch up on their email), you’ll position yourself for success.
An important part of your professional brand is how you communicate with — and provide services to — the public. Remember all these interactions are about your organization, and the image you’re presenting to the public. What perception will the public have of your municipality – and of you?
A.B.M.: Always Be Marketing
Even though you might not believe it, everyone’s job is marketing. You should always be marketing yourself – monitoring your personal brand – and marketing your initiatives. Consider the viewpoints of your colleagues, your boss and your citizens when you make decisions. How should you describe it in terms they care about? This will help get them on your side.
Remember – when it comes to marketing yourself and your initiatives to drive successful change management, it’s important to manage the image you are presenting to your colleagues and to the public. One way to do this, in the words of Stephen Covey, is to seek first to understand, then to be understood. This means don’t say what you want to say. Understand what your audience wants to hear, and consider their perspective when you’re communicating.
Melissa Henley is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is Director of Customer Experience at Laserfiche, an enterprise software company that has served the public and private sectors for over 30 years. Customers are at the heart of all Melissa does, and her passion is around connecting people to content that can have a genuinely positive impact on their lives. Melissa brings over 20 years of marketing experience across multiple industries, including government, finance, and higher education. Read her posts here.