Note: This post is relevant if you are building awareness about experimentation in your organization.
Testing and optimization are moving targets today. Digital marketing continues to evolve, communication channels mature, and technologies change. As the president of Brooks Bell, I work with world-class marketing teams and digital strategists, helping top brands increase the impact and efficiency of their testing programs. A common question I come across is: “How do I change our company culture so everyone embraces experimentation?”
Communication is critical. Message consistency is essential. But focusing on how you communicate is equally important to what you are communicating. With so many options to choose from, we want to offer you a few best practices to consider.
First and foremost, define your goal. In simple terms, you want to inform, inspire and ultimately, encourage business adoption of a new way of thinking and implementing testing techniques.
Secondly, develop a supporting strategy. Perhaps the founder of LinkedIn said it best: “Good ideas need a good strategy to realize their potential.” A well-defined strategy gives you a plan to follow, streamlines your process, and helps keep you on track.
Ensure leadership buy in. Identify the people in your company who are most influential. Connect with them and ask for input. Learn which communication format they prefer and how often they want to receive information. Get them to participate by sharing a reply all comment via email. Ask for a quote to include in your newsletter. Share Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to support wins. After all, it is human nature for people to take pride as part of a winning team.
Select your tools. People learn in different ways. Some are visual. Some are auditory. Some are verbal and others are kinesthetic. A combination of these will provide the most effective means of communicating with different types of employees throughout your organization.
Choose your communication channels. There are many on and offline vehicles to consider and some are more common than others. For starters, identify and leverage the existing tools you are already using. These may include a chat software like Yammer, a cloud technology platform like Google Drive or SharePoint, signs or posters in break rooms, Q&A sessions or town halls, social media posts and onboarding or training programs.
The following four items are among the most common communication channels our clients use:
- Newsletters & Emails – These are the most popular tools, however, it is important to keep in mind that the majority of employees today say they are overloaded with the amount of email messages they receive. A few tips to increase employee engagement include:
- Make the message short. One sheet can include a summary and impact statement, a status update about progress or lessons learned, and a featured case study.
- Distribute the information on a regular cadence at the same time, on the same day every week. People will come to expect it.
- Keep it simple. Answer the questions:
- What’s in it for me (from an employee perspective)?
- What does this mean for our customers?
- Why are we doing this?
- How does this affect the company?
- When and where are programs taking place?
- Stand Up Calls – Block 15 minute conference calls occasionally for key stakeholders to offer status updates about current tests. Address deep dive questions outside the call. Depending on the size of your program, schedule an hour dial-in time once a month. Experiment with cadence and duration to figure out what works best for your company and employees.
- PowerPoint Slide Decks – These still seem to be a popular method to house experiments and results. Attach decks to weekly emails or regular newsletters to reinforce communication. Issue and project tracking software programs such as JIRA and Confluence also help organize workflow and shared repositories.
- Happy Hours – If newsletters, emails, PowerPoint decks or other communication vehicles aren’t getting the attention you want, try hosting a happy hour. Invite employees, encourage them to bring colleagues and discuss the status of your testing programs.
Whatever channels you use, realize change management initiatives such as cultural shifts take time and effort. People naturally follow good leaders and employees respect transparency. As with all communication, be consistent and concise with your messages, adhere to a regular and frequent delivery schedule, and repeat often. Research proves messages are more effective when repeated. Some say repeating messages three times works, but others believe the Rule of 7 applies.
If you implement these strategies, you will start to see the needle move and you have a good chance at getting traction as you spread knowledge throughout your organization.
Naoshi Yamauchi, President
As President of Brooks Bell, Naoshi Yamauchi is responsible for the growth, standards, and success of the company’s services and solutions. His passion lies in continuing to help build optimization solutions for complex challenges for enterprise level companies and building a successful company that people feel proud to work for. Naoshi has 10 years of experience working in the industry, including leading Business Intelligence at Lulu.com. He also holds a MBA in Marketing and Innovation Management from North Carolina State.