Marketers are far more likely to succeed when they can align with their stakeholders on goals. The challenge marketers may face is that different stakeholders might have different reasons for supporting the goal or different objections to it.
Here are some tips that can help build stakeholder buy-in.
1. Identify the stakeholders for the goal
Every business has multiple stakeholders. For a specific goal, marketers will want to identify the subset of stakeholders who can influence the goal’s outcome. For example, suppose a marketing team’s goal is to increase website traffic by 30% in 12 months. Stakeholders for this goal may be:
- C-level executives
- Employees responsible for driving traffic to the website, such as the social media team
- The web design team, if design changes are needed
- Employees who have to fill requests or orders generated by the increased web traffic
- Suppliers who may need to provide products to meet increased demand
Other stakeholders, such as different groups of employees, unions, or community members, for example, might not be impacted by this goal.
2. Have preliminary conversations with champions and critics
There are stakeholders marketers can count on to support their goal enthusiastically. Talk to those stakeholders early to emphasize how crucial their support is to the goal’s success.
Marketers also can likely identify those people who may be a roadblock in their path. They’re the persons who might say something like, “We tried that before, and it didn’t work.” One-on-one conversations with these people can help identify solutions ahead of time, so they are less likely to engage others in criticizing the goal.
It’s vital to have these conversations with C-level executives and anyone who holds influence over other stakeholders.
3. Invite stakeholders to planning discussions
There’s a famous phrase: “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than to get permission.” That may be true in many situations, but it’s not advisable when marketers are trying to align stakeholders on goals. Permission might not be exactly what’s needed, but stakeholder buy-in and support are essential for success.
By inviting stakeholders to planning discussions, marketers can learn their stakeholders’ concerns and develop ways to address them. Marketers may think they can anticipate those concerns, and in some cases, that’s true. However, marketers may not know how all stakeholders could be impacted by working toward their goal.
Using the website traffic example above, C-level executives might have other budget priorities, so they may not feel they can provide the funding needed to drive website traffic, or the web design team may be in the midst of an intensive project that doesn’t leave much free time for a redesign. For these reasons, it’s important to involve stakeholders in planning meetings.
When stakeholders know their concerns are heard and addressed, they are more likely to support the goal.
4. Be prepared to make adjustments
Upon hearing their stakeholders’ concerns, marketers may need to pivot. For example, C-level executives may want to expand the goal so, along with driving traffic, it also converts users or increases revenue. It’s also possible the steps toward reaching the goal may cause conflict among stakeholders, so marketers may need to implement changes.
Keep in mind that this goal is not the company’s only goal. It’s probably not even the only goal for the marketing department. By looking at departmental and corporate goals holistically, marketers can identify how each goal is part of the big picture and adjust it to better match the company’s overall plan.
5. Re-evaluate and share progress
Once marketers get stakeholder buy-in for their goal, they can take steps toward achieving it. But communication is crucial. If problems arise, marketers should connect with key stakeholders as they seek solutions. And marketers should share successes as well. Celebrate incremental gains in website traffic over months and quarters, for example. Stakeholders want to know they are contributing to a winning idea.
Get help aligning on goals
Partner with a full-service agency that can provide support in aligning stakeholders on marketing goals. Reach out to Imaginari to learn more.