Adding new tools to your process can be bittersweet. It often begins with the excitement of finding that platform, software or tool that will help automate or improve your work in just the way you hoped, only to spiral into frustration and maybe even regret when reality and expectations collide as you try to navigate unfamiliar territory and learn something new.
In the ever-changing world of digital marketing, adopting new tech and platforms is a pretty regular feature of our professional lives. Here are a few things our agency has learned over the years to help make incorporating new software or technology a little bit easier.
Take advantage of free trials.
This might seem obvious, but don’t go all-in right away if you can try it out first for no or very little commitment. It may be hard to believe, but sometimes even marketers get pulled in by advertising promises and agree to service contracts or investments before testing out the product. Even if a new tool seems like a perfect fit, take advantage of any free trial period before you buy. In some cases, these trials include premium or upgraded features you may or may not need, and testing them out before committing to a service level could save you money.
Give everyone time to try it.
It may be helpful to introduce the app or platform to all team members at once, then allow for small group or individual time to “play” before coming back together and talking about what you like and don’t. This approach may not work for all new systems, but allowing people time to become familiar with the basics before they start in-depth training can help give context to what’s being presented and encourage team members to participate more actively.
While some organizations focus on maintaining control over a new resource with a “this is how we use it” mentality and discouraging experimentation, the truth is this approach limits innovation and could make it difficult to get the most out of your investment. Day-to-day users are likely to be the best source of feedback on what’s working and what’s not with new tech. Create a culture for employees to continue discovering and sharing tips, tricks and features of the tool with each other. You could even consider rewarding the staffer who supplies the best tip each month with a free coffee, extended lunch, etc., to make it fun.
Allow for “good failure.”
Sometimes we try new workflows or systems that seem like a great idea on the surface but don’t pan out. It can be tough to admit defeat in these circumstances; you’ve likely invested more time and resources than you’d hoped. But don’t be afraid to fail, especially with something that’s new to you, and be open to learning from the failure. Staying the course purely out of stubbornness will likely lead to more frustration, and loss of resources, than owning up to the failure and moving on to better solutions.
Create realistic timeframes and goals for implementation.
Be aware that you will probably need to customize and tweak any system to get the most out of it and to find the features that make sense for your team. You might also need to create solutions for internal resistance, which can come from legitimate concerns or a hesitancy to change. Many marketing tech platforms are advertised as easy-to-use time-savers, and while that is true of any good business tech in the long run, don’t expect to see those benefits in your first week, month or maybe more.
This “delayed returns” effect can be seen in one technology transition that’s happening here in the midwest: traffic roundabouts. Numerous studies have shown that these looping streets reduce accidents and improve traffic flow. But if you’ve ever been through a newly installed one, you might question that logic as you watch unfamiliar drivers stop and start through them erratically. Several have popped up near my daughter’s school recently, and I must admit I thought they were an unnecessary change at first. However, within just a month of using them, I caught myself sitting at other local intersections wishing the city had installed a roundabout instead.
Sometimes you may get resistance from those you work with about change because it’s unfamiliar or seen as unnecessary, but with time and allowing the users to be a part of the decision-making process or implementation, even the most hesitant will see the benefits and get on board.