Selling change

 In Change management

A big influence on colleagues’ attitudes to change is the brand that is created around the change.  People buy in to brands in organisations the same way they do in the high street; brands influence what they do and don’t want to be associated with. If you have the wrong brand attached to your change, then adoption is going to be a lot tougher. Is your change about being the best or ruthless cost cutting? Both will get very different colleague reactions and need to be approached differently.

Brand the change

The branding of the change is key and to appeal to the majority your brand has to be about what value it adds. The problem with technology change especially social media is the change initiative can have too much focus on the whizzy functionality, the new and shiny. However this can be off putting. The vast majority are only interested in the difference it makes. So how do you get the vast majority to adopt your change?

Early adopters will come anyway

In general as long as you have made a wise technology choice then ‘Early adopters’ don’t need to be seduced; if it’s good then they will be on it. You feed them as much information as you have in targeted ways but you don’t build your change brand around this segment.  Reason is you risk labeling it as niche or ‘only for the geeks’.

Target the early majority

The target market therefore should be the second wave, your early majority; they provide your path to business as usual. For the early majority what is key is not banging on endlessly about product names and functionality (which is what your early adopters want to hear), it’s about showing them how it helps them do their job better and making the product part almost irrelevant. Take away the bling and find the value-add and then communicate it as simply as you can.

Hold back on how much information you throw at them. Your early adopters may want an insatiable amount of information but the early majority won’t have the patience to wade through it. At first they will have time for about a cup full of information, therefore don’t throw an ocean at them. Think what you really want them to know, when they will be interested and chunk information to that bandwidth they will give you.

New ways of working have steeper learning curves so you need to reflect where they are on the learning curve in to your campaign and this is one way you can ‘chunk’ information. Start with simple foundation communications then as people get the hang of what you are talking about you can introduce more complex concepts. Think first about what base behaviours and attitudes you want to put in place.  If you are introducing social business tools then you may want to ensure all colleagues are clear on your organisations wider social media guidelines before you even start talking specifics.  Are they comfortable talking socially, do they know how to behave online?  Start with simple target behaviours before you go product specific.

Then get the rest

When you reach tipping point then you start to target your late majority who tend to be followers and will want to be part of the gang. Build in to your marketing campaign budget for as much evidence as possible that everyone is now working this way. New technology often isn’t visible beyond the desktop so you’ll need to find other ways to shout about it. Social capital, case studies, badges and physical spaces that scream we’re all doing it this way now.  That gets the followers on board.

Building a brand around business benefits to the masses means you avoid the risk of early adopter cliques, product nicknames and secret languages.  Unless your organisation is an organization of early adopters then build a brand that screams this is just an extension of the way we do things around here.  It’s just the next way of doing what you do today.

Image courtesy of Pedro Szekely, Flickr.  Thank you Pedro. 



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