New corporate programs and undertakings can be thrilling. A new website. Fresh sales collateral. A more aggressive content strategy. In the right hands and within the right strategy, these things can drive tremendous momentum towards your goals.
But they can – and often do – fail or fall short.
Even with the best intentions – and hiring “experts” (e.g., a developer for the new website) – it’s highly possible that you will walk away thinking it was a waste of time and money. Or at least a lower-than-expected ROI.
I have seen this time and time again working with companies over the years. An executive and/or decision maker recognizes a need, gets excited about an idea and pulls the trigger, expecting to see results. They stand back and let the expert do the work, and when it’s done, they send an email to the company or individuals most impacted. (For example, informing the sales team there is new sales collateral.)
What they neglected – and the expert was likely not positioned for (or experienced with) – was the development of a roll-out strategy. For programs to be successful, it’s not only the end audience we need to keep in mind. At least as important is the conduit audience – those individuals who will be responsible for ensuring the successful and effective transmission.
Consider this: A small company decides to undertake an overhaul of their marketing efforts, where they have previously done very little. Soon, employees begin to see changes and are asked to do new things. Being removed from the decision-making process and not someone who intuitively understands the value in these kinds of efforts, individuals begin to rebel and avoid anything that has to do with the new efforts. Tensions are created, rifts formed and external efforts are ineffective (or, at the very least, less effective than that could have been). Customers even start to sense a tension. Internal efforts to secure buy-in and generate enthusiasm would have gone a long way in helping get everyone – especially those most important and critical to the success – to be advocates.
So, what does an effective roll-out strategy look like?
There are many considerations and nuances, of course, but here are some things to keep in mind.
Understand your goals: Why are you taking on the project? What do you hope to achieve? (New clients, improve customer satisfaction, be more competitive, etc.)
Make a list of all audiences – Internal and external.
Identify who will be critical to the success of the program.
Anticipate the concerns and questions of that group/those individuals and be prepared with answers.
Be flexible. If you learn something during the course of discussions that will lead to a more successful roll-out, don’t be so wed to your plan that you can’t change based on feedback.
Leverage advocates/influencers. If there is an individual or group of individuals that can help garner support and enthusiasm, pull them in early to get buy-in and facilitate the roll-out.
Identify and communicate how this initiative fits into your overall vision.
Most important with any new program or initiative is understanding that effective communication is key to the roll-out, and ultimately, its success. Once you recognize that, you can start putting in place the steps that will take you along the right path.