Digital Transformation: If you want to succeed, you must have the ability to learn and adapt

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Do you put learning as a priority when running your business?

Digital development has taken quantum leaps in recent years. And as you know, your customers are now in the driving seat − and if you want to avoid being overtaken, you must ensure that your company has access to the necessary expertise.

Today, customers can, much easier than before, obtain valuable information, compare products and make purchases without speaking to any one of your salespeople long before a definite purchase decision is on the table.

The customer decides how the purchase process goes – you prepare the customer journey.

In more and more cases, the purchase process takes place without the involvement of a seller.

Before a purchase is made, the customer will have been involved in several contact points with your company. The customer may have been exposed to an ad on social media, clicked on the ad and then been followed up with one or more marketing emails. The customer buys a product or service from one of these emails. The sales department has, till now, never been involved. The customer journey up to the point of purchase is frictionless, freeing up your salespeople’s time to upsell and follow up after the sale, i.e. the customer’s onward journey is your task to facilitate.

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With a full-fledged CRM, the seller can afterwards determine which products or services are doing well and which would need an adjustment to satisfy the customer’s needs. In this way, the marketing department can acquire the knowledge the sales department can use when they are in dialogue with existing or new customers.

To be able to keep up with these changes, you must make sure you have access to several areas of competence – either through internal competence development (as in the example above), recruitment or external third-party partners.

Here are some areas of expertise you need to consider:

Several of these areas partially overlap. For example, content production and search engine optimization are important areas of expertise in a digital marketing strategy based on Inbound Marketing.

Read also: What is the difference between inbound marketing and content marketing?

Avoid being stranded when the last train leaves the station.

If you have salespeople and marketers in your organization who lack sufficient digital competence, the situation can quickly feel like being stranded when the last train leaves.

And where does the train go? It’s travelling alongside the customer’s journey. And it goes faster than before, and the space is tighter. There are also shorter stays at the stations. If you are not quick enough and well enough prepared, you risk remaining at station ‘Status Quo’.

If you are to succeed with your digital marketing strategy, it is required that you have a conscious skills development strategy and that you have the ability to learn. This may seem banal and self-evident, but nevertheless, we see that many businesses have major challenges with learning.

Here are nine challenges you and your organisation must learn and resolve to succeed with Digital Transformation and Digital Marketing.

Challenge #1: Fear of failure

Can you have too sharp a focus on success? Yes, you can. In many organisations, there is no room for error. Projects and campaigns are set up without any slack, which could otherwise be used for experimentation and subsequent learning. Over time, you may deliver the project according to plan and budget, but you do not improve. You become good at yesterday’s solutions, and it doesn’t help much if there is an innovation rate with your customers and competitors that you cannot follow up on.

Challenge #2: A fixed mindset

Many companies have a fixed mindset that limits learning opportunities. They are so concerned with creating success that they are unable to learn. Others have what might be called a developmental mindset. These are people who naturally seek challenges and learning opportunities. They do not see mistakes/failures as a sign of inadequacy but instead as opportunities for learning and improvement.

Challenge #3: Relying too much on past results

Many of us recruit and promote candidates based on results achieved and not so much on the ability to learn. The ability to learn depends greatly on our curiosity, enthusiasm, insight and determination. Recruitment company Egon Zehnder has developed its own methodology to measure candidates’ learning abilities. They can document that so-called high potentials perform better than candidates with less potential precisely because of their willingness and ability to learn.

Challenge #4: The Excuse Syndrome

We tend to attribute success to hard work, smart moves and high competence – never luck or chance. Failures, on the other hand, are explained by bad luck and coincidences. In the absence of a good term, I choose to call this the Excuse Syndrome.

Unless we realize that mistakes are our own, we will not learn. The solution lies in making mistakes harmless – there must be a business culture to be able to make mistakes. Perhaps to a greater extent, we should call mistakes experiments. Experiments is a more positively charged term.

Another contribution is to ensure that you have employees with a more developmental mindset, with the ability and willingness to learn.

Smart application of software will also contribute to learning based on facts, not assumptions.

Challenge #5: Burnout

Exhausted and burned-out employees lack the energy to learn or carry out tasks based on inherent skills.

It should not be surprising that quality suffers when your sales manager has to proofread the offer after 15 hours at work versus fresh and rested on Monday morning. If you tend to implement labour-intensive measures immediately after a non-conforming situation has arisen, then at least ensure that you set aside sufficient time to find the cause/effect relationship and time for planning the measure.

Don’t make the mistake of jumping straight to the implementation. Most of us can handle long working hours. Many hours on a planned project, with clear goals, tasks and milestones, is something completely different from being thrown into 15-hour days without a clear meaning of the task and poor coordination.

Challenge #6: Lack of reflection

Do you set aside time to carry out post-mortems of projects, major tasks or campaigns you are responsible for/participate in? If not: How does your business capture the points of improvement based on facts and not assumptions? Many of us are guilty of this.

The measures you can introduce in your business are easy to identify but demanding to implement. A lot is about self-discipline. You must create space for yourself to think and reflect. We tend to be overly optimistic about the time it takes to transition from one project to another.

Certain knowledge workers have almost meetings as a form of work. If this is to have an effect, you MUST create room to evaluate the meetings. What did we learn? Did the meeting add value? Did we achieve the objectives of the meeting?

Challenge #7: We spend too much energy on adapting

A challenge we face from an early age is that we are taught to follow the rules and routines. Some rules and routines should, of course, be followed, but there are others that we can advantageously challenge.

When we change employers, the same thing happens: We spend a lot of energy adapting to the working environment, language, dress code, relationships and what is expected beyond what is stated in the employment contract and personnel handbook.

For many of us, this seems to limit our contribution to the organization, and it takes mental capacity away from what we are employed to do.

Challenge #8: Not exploiting our strengths

As a result of us spending too much energy adapting, we also don’t get to use our strengths. We risk becoming averagely good in many areas rather than becoming really good in one or a few areas. Something that I personally think today’s digital marketers are the definition of – a potato that should complement all dishes.

Looking back at the areas of expertise required to succeed with a digital marketing strategy, it is easy to see that it is impossible to build top expertise alone in many of these areas.

Cultivate the top skills

One measure is to cultivate the top skills rather than live with some weaker aspects. Good quality assurance and efficient business processes must compensate for this.

Here we have software that helps us follow best practices. The world’s leading “all-in-one” software for inbound marketing, HubSpot, gives us opportunities to incorporate best practices for content production, analysis, campaign execution, and workflows, to name a few areas. The software quality ensures this is done and allows us to create valuable content based on user behaviour and creativity data.

Challenge #9: The front line is incorrectly trained or not involved

Many businesses do not use their employees’ expertise in daily customer contact. Employees who work with your products’ production, transport and customer support are the best source of improvement and learning. You have to make use of it.

A simple measure is to let the employees own the problems that affect their own work. They are the ones who know best where the shoe fits.

Do arrange for “Professional days” 2-4 times a month, where employees from different departments are asked to present trends in their professional competence, execution and planning of current projects or statistics for projects that are doing exceptionally well or poorly. In this way, employees share expertise and experience within their own professional field, which benefits the other departments.

Rotate within teams

Another measure could be to rotate within the same team to ensure that the employees get a more holistic understanding of the team’s tasks. This must be weighed against the advantages that specialist expertise provides.

The nine learning challenges we have mentioned in this blog entry apply to the highest degree of marketing. Digital marketing is a complex subject area! Digital transformation, changes in customers’ purchasing behaviour, and new software opportunities place greater demands on learning than before. Those who will be most successful with digital marketing are the businesses that show the ability and willingness to learn continuously.

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