The only constant is change. It may be cliché, but for most organizations, if, how, and when they change is vital to success.
Whether managing small changes like enhanced technology or larger changes like an acquisition of a company or creation of a department, I’ve been at the center of many change management experiences.
Success as an Agent of Change
In 2013 I was recruited to Gold Eagle as the Director of a new Channel Marketing department, and I was immediately faced with managing change. Some members of the organization did not understand the benefits of channel marketing—and some didn’t even know what it was. Of course, people rarely like change, particularly when it means perceived loss of control.
The first step was to observe, evaluate, and learn. I was new to the industry; I needed to not only learn the players and practices but build credibility by learning from others.
Once I understood the opportunities and challenges for enacting change, I built a plan and proposed a plan. First I educated the senior leadership team on the pitfalls of current practices and gained additional buy-in from key constitutes. This took time and solid proof of where immediate and long-term success would be found.
After the structure and operations were approved, I set-out to communicate the change and explain various team members’ new roles. I learned quickly to implement changes in small portions. This process took commitment to the core structure and flexibility to adjust to legitimate feedback on what could and could not work.
Role-Out of Channel Marketing at Gold Eagle
Channel Marketing Manager: Works in partnership with Brand Management team to jointly invest market development funds and Co-op to increase channel sell-through.
- Develops cohesive Channel Marketing Plan / Go-to-Market plan across channels (Mass, Auto parts, Home Improvement and Hardware) while protecting overall profitability of the brands.
- Aligns all channel activities with the overall consumer brand and sales demand plan.
- Develop retail promotions to drive pull-through strategy for all customers ( Rebates, Specials, Volume Buys, Spiffs).
- Create off-shelf retail merchandising displays (Corrugated & Permanent) ensuring proper merchandising for that account.
- Work closely with each channel sales manager to understand and support specific channel/customer needs for growth and profitability.
- Work closely with the Marcom and Product teams to support all channels. Understand and communicate the economics and tradeoffs of different channel strategies and propose optimal Go-to-Market plans.
- Track and analyze factory and POS sales versus target channel sales.
- Manage merchandise and account promotional budget.
Part of the key responsibilities that I had put into place also required balancing act of both external and internal factors. Which included the biggest area of improvement for a business planning process.
- There is minimal annualized plan, resulting in no maximization of brand awareness, advertising awareness, or sales potential.
- “Planning” is driven by past years promotions rather than data and business plan goals.
- There is no annualized plan, so we are not maximizing our brand awareness, advertising awareness, or sales potential. At this time, sales are given parameters rather than numbers of items to be sold. “Planning” is driven by past years promotions rather than data and business plan goals.
- All promotions established by Channel Marketing Manager. Approved by Director of Sales and Director of Marketing. Proposed plan would be due at the same time as the proposed business plan. (Proposed Time: August 1st Annually)
- Proposed plan is due at the same time as the proposed business plan.
- All one-off promotions/ displays go through Channel Marketing and approved by both Director Sales and Marketing
Annual Business Planning Process
Current Status: Sales Director creates a plan with only random and ad-hoc input given by Channel Marketing.
In Progress: Working with Sales Director to create comprehensive plan, which will guide sales persons to meet and/or exceed goals.
-Continued partnership between sales and channel marketing in business planning to ensure accountability through transparent reporting.
-If senior leadership supports the business plan, the next step is to create weekly reporting to track progress. Given the company’s new bonus structure, reports should be sent to board members and all staff members on a regular basis.
Development of other Process Improvements – Merchandising
Current Status: All requests from Sales go through Brand to Project Manager and Channel Marketing is only haphazardly included or involved in the process. At this time, Project Manager does not have a strong understand of design, which requires Channel to step in and communicate directly with the Vendor. This is after the fact and creates confusion, particularly, when Channel is not overseeing the process in the first place.
- Routing process should be Sales>Channel Marketing>Project Manager>Vendor>Project Manager>Channel Marketing & Brand (for forecasting purposes)>Channel>Sales. See diagram for more information.
- Create a form for Merchandising requests. Form will be started by Sales, funneled through the appropriate channels. The form will track all pertinent information for the project as well as keep projects on schedule.
Outcomes of Change
There were organizational and personal successes and failures to the implementation of Channel Marketing at Gold Eagle:
- Created a better communication pipeline internally and externally to merchants and vendors. Allowing brand and sales team members to focus on other tasks.
- Increased overall profits and sales; YoY average sales growth = 8%
- Gained profitable off shelf placement opportunities
- Created a process foundation for future team members to lead projects and programs.
- Honed my Servant Leadership skills. I wanted to make Gold Eagle as strong an organization as possible, and I knew taking care of the people at the organization was important to any business success we had. Thus, listening, evaluating, and adjusting based on feedback was key. After all, it would be the entire team that would make the operations come alive.
- Learned how to “Create the Why.” Creating transparency from beginning to end required people to understand why we were doing something different.
- Recognized as 2014 Executive Leadership Award, in recognition of my initiative, vision, and implementation of strategies. This recognition led to my permanent placement on the Coordination Executive Leadership Team. From there I was identified as leader for a brand acquisition project and the Digital Transformation.
- Continue to learn. I’ve continued to find ways to learn and train as a servant leader:
- Participated in Gold Eagle’s 3-5 year strategic plan
- Dale Carnegie Leadership training, 2016
- Ken Blanchard training, 2017
- Consicase capitlizm, 2017
- Hubspot certified, 2017