There’s a lot of excitement that comes with launching a new marketing campaign. Since it can take your marketing team weeks to brainstorm and prepare, there’s always a lot riding on the launch and execution. But one thing many CMOs and business owners fail to consider is buy-in across the organization.
Why widespread buy-in matters
When most people think about a new marketing campaign and getting people to buy-in, they assume the target is the external audience–i.e., customers. But before a company can ever penetrate the marketplace, internal buy-in has to take place. Ask any experienced marketer and they’ll tell you that getting company stakeholders to buy-in is the toughest part.
Why do you need employees, board members, managers, and investors to all buy into a new marketing campaign? Why can’t you just go ahead and launch a campaign that you know will work? Well, buy-in matters more than you could ever know. When everyone is in support of a campaign, suddenly there’s a sense of unity and confidence that everything will work out as it should.
When there isn’t buy-in, the opposite is true. Frustration begins to fester beneath the surface. The marketing team feels like it doesn’t have support and has to tread lightly. Customers see inconsistencies in the execution of the marketing campaign and the brand’s core values. Overall, it’s a big mess.
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How to encourage stakeholder buy-in
Sometimes a lack of buy-in is obvious. People will openly and verbally express their disinterest. However, it isn’t always so apparent. There are times when a lack of stakeholder buy-in is subtle. It’s important that you’re able to spot these signs and openly confront them as quickly as possible.
“Body language speaks volumes. Look for crossed arms, closed faces, tight postures, or lack of eye contact,” advises Michael Whatmore, an executive business coach in San Francisco. “While there is danger in misreading body language (maybe the air conditioner is set too low), consistently negative cues are meaningful and indicate that individuals are not buying into your ideas.”
Body language is just one cue. There are other signs and it’s up to you to pay attention. Having said that, once you realize that you’re facing a buy-in problem, here are some specific things you can do to bring people together:
1. Use audience-specific language
How you communicate the same idea to different audiences will likely determine your success in getting buy-in. You can’t expect to use the same language, conversation, or illustrations and get positive results every time. For example, how you talk to the folks in the advertising department should be different than how you talk to board members (and vice versa). Tailor your language to the audience and avoid buzzwords and jargon that others might not understand.
2. Provide some context
“Few business leaders regularly share their vision for their business with their staff, many of whom are often left to perform their day-to-day duties with little awareness of how their contribution fits into the bigger picture,” marketing consultant Caron Beesley notes. “Keeping staff abreast of how the business as a whole is doing against campaign targets, thanks to their help, can be hugely motivating.”