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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT: Transformational Marketing and Why Your Next Initiative Needs Some Visual Help!

The other week I was having a conversation with someone and they brought up that much of the learning and development field is moving from a transactional basis to a transformational basis, that is to say from merely a pay for this and get that business model to how will this benefit the overall strategy of the organization.  It got me thinking about marketing in that vein. It has long been my belief that marketing isn’t a siloed business practice along with other silos like “accounts payable”, “operations”, “IT”, and the rest, but that marketing should be a work flow process that extends across the silos, affecting each one along its way.  Until that conversation, I didn’t really have a word to describe it, but I thought, “Wow, transformational marketing – that’s what I’m talking about!”

Transformational marketing is not new, however.  As a definition transformational marketing addresses the role of marketing in driving organizational change. As Harvard Business School professor Nirmalya Kumar has indicated in his book Marketing as Strategy, marketing must move from a tactical function to a strategic one – leveraging its specific skill sets (design, persuasion, multimedia, driving action) to become the catalyst for organizational change. Marketing must help senior leadership teams to lead organization-wide transformational initiatives that deliver on corporate objectives. I’ll take the idea one step further by saying, it’s everyone’s role in the organization to be marketers.

I think a common misunderstanding is that if it’s an internal communication or if my job title doesn’t have “marketing” in it, then the attempts at design, persuasion or having a convincing call to action don’t apply.  I couldn’t disagree more.  Here’s the thing (whether you went to school for design and marketing or not) – we are visual creatures.  Our brains spark up when rich and important content is paired with visually appealing and persuasive artwork (much like the pairing of a fine wine and cheese).  As discussed in Neurosciences III, “More than any other aspect of sensation, visual awareness” is most important.  “Humans are visual creatures.  This is reflected in the large amount of brain tissue that is dedicated to the analysis of images and in the importance of seeing in daily live.  Visual percepts are vivid and rich in information.”

And yet, we have a tendency to slap a black and white photocopied logo on some white paper, write a 3-page-longer-than-necessary-memo to our staff about a change initiative or strategic vision and think that it will convince and galvanize them to action.  Oh, leader where is thy creativity?

As our society becomes more accustomed to perfected design (in the iPad and everything Google), we are also not bystanders to creativity any more.  As I have written in other pieces, we are also becoming prosumers with the ability not only to consume advertising and marketing, but with the ability to personally produce it as well.  Look at the amount of products that are currently on the market for creating and perfecting the “message.”  From Instagram’s ability to put a variety of filters on our photos, to Socialcam‘s ability to make artistic movies on the spot, to the ease of sharing our creations with our friends, to how we position our own individual brands via LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest we now have the ability to be a marketing powerhouse if we choose to.   Our world is becoming more transfixed not just on the message anymore, but how the message is presented.  Are you using any of these or other tools to enhance your messaging?  If not, why not?  Your children probably are and their change initiative or strategic transformation doesn’t even depend on it. Yours might.

In the past year or two, that has been some of my work here at New Directions, not only using my background in marketing and advertising for our own marketing purposes, but also to add some flare to enhance our external client’s messaging too.  It is no longer New Directions’ sole mission to perfect our client’s ability to provide people solutions through training and development or to work with senior leadership to organizational strategize about their future. Equally, we know the immediate need and value in making sure that the client also has our skill set in marketing the training workshop, making sure the cover pops, the internal workshop pages engage, the back page of information moves the learning forward, and who could forget about the pens!  All of this works together to get people excited about learning again.

This is not to say that an organization should focus solely on design and marketing and forget about the content of the business.  But, it is the argument that we need to combine both our need for visual stimulation and need to be persuaded on an idea or thought with the valuable “guts” of our businesses.

Do you see this transformation in marketing happening in your workspace too?  Do you see more focus on how it looks than you have in the past?  Maybe not, but would you like it to? Would it make work more fun and engaging if marketing skill sets were added to a quality initiative or change initiative to really get staff excited?


Explore these options as ways to enhance your own message:

Animoto – a creative way to show photos in video format

Prezi – quickly becoming the PowerPoint for a new generation

Gantter – for building virtual Gantt charts

Stocklayout – for quick graphic design needs

iLife – for mac users looking to use iPhoto, iMovie, or Garageband

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An innovative training and employee development firm located in southern Vermont since 1984, we specialize in helping organizations get the most out of their people by raising the bar, inspiring potential and partnering with organizations to build a people-centered, high-engagement culture.

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