How to Organize An Internal PLM Marketing Campaign

An internal promotional plan is an important marketing tool when it comes to launching a new PLM initiative. Whether you’re replacing your PDM system, implementing a new process or releasing a new feature, an internal PLM marketing strategy can help you build awareness and thrive.

However, in most PLM programs, internal marketing is done poorly, if at all. Usually, the intent of internal releases and product launches is to let employees know what shiny new features are available in a system, or what improved process has just been published.

If their initiatives are so important, why do PLM teams spend so little time marketing them?

In this post, we’ll dive into how internal marketing can boost your PLM initiatives and the exact steps you need to take to create an internal PLM marketing campaign.

What is internal marketing, and why does it matter?

Internal marketing is largely about things people do in organizations that contribute to their success. Sometimes the term “internal marketing” refers to employer branding: the organization’s strategy to attract, develop and retain excellent employees.

Here, when we talk about internal marketing, we’re referring to the set of internal activities that support the success of a business strategy or program.

Internal marketing is much more than just sending a company-wide email or broadcasting a product demo. Rather, it’s all about intentionally engaging your employees. It’s about treating them as “internal customers” who need to be convinced of the products, processes or strategy’s power.

How can internal marketing help PLM programs succeed?

Have you ever received a release note full of new features and terms you can barely understand? Every now and then, do you get an email from your IT team that lets you know that they’ve updated this or that software to a new version, but doesn’t really explain what the update means for you?

I’ve seen these things happen—and that’s because most PLM initiatives lack a well-thought-out marketing plan.

To make matters worse, when they’re done, most organizations think about internal marketing too late, when they’re about to release the results of the project to the organization.

In the rush, they take a haphazard and siloed approach and end up just pushing out disjointed and uncoordinated information to their users.

New systems and processes frequently meet with resistance from employees who need to learn new things and cope with change. Adapting to new ways of working is not easy, and employees usually feel disengaged – or worse, hostile toward the company.

Internal marketing facilitates organizational change and the realization of its intended business results. When done well, it can spell the difference between resistance and success.

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Discover how internal marketing can boost your PLM initiatives and the exact steps to create an internal marketing campaign.

Think before you engage: what do you have to say?

Processes and systems are relatively easy to change, but if you want to bring people in your organization on board, you need to craft a strong vision—and learn to sell it. When people understand the “why” and feel inspired by a sense of purpose, they’re motivated to give it a try and make it work.

Think about where you want to go, and why. Work on your pitch, always with your customer in mind. Drop the corporate-speak and choose a “down-to-earth” message. Management-speak doesn’t work nowadays. We just stop listening. Instead, adopt an informal and approachable tone and inject personality into your message.

And don’t get too technical, either—we may get excited by talking about APIs, virtualized cloud services or graph data models, but the people impacted by PLM technologies usually care less about the technical part and simply want to know how the tools or processes will help them in their daily work.

Picture how your PLM program can help your organization achieve a competitive advantage, then craft a story to create engagement and support your internal marketing campaign. A good story is crucial to hammering the message home.

A strong “why” will help to close the deal with your people. It’s also a weapon you can use to get resources allocated to your projects, to develop and grow.

How to develop an internal PLM marketing campaign

If you’re thinking of launching an internal marketing campaign, for example for your PLM initiative, it’s important to have a strategy in place. Your master plan should include a set of clearly defined goals, finite start and end dates, and a team to do the work.

A good marketing strategy spells out all the tools, actions and channels you’ll use to achieve your goals. It’s your plan of action that describes what you’ll have to offer, who’ll want to buy it and the tactics you’ll use to achieve your goals.

Now, let’s dig deeper into how to create an internal marketing campaign!

PLM marketing

1. Define your goal

Start with the end in mind: What do you want your campaign to achieve? Is it to increase quality and reduce complaints with your new release process? Or maybe you want your after-sales team to sell more by providing them access to installed base information?

The key to successful marketing is knowing precisely what you’re trying to achieve. Whatever your objective, you want to be as specific as possible. Knowing your goals before you begin planning helps you to develop your strategy.

2. Target and segment your audience

The best marketing campaigns put the audience first.

If you want to craft a successful marketing campaign, you need to clearly define your target audience. Sometimes you might need to tailor the message to audience segments. What might be appropriate for management might not be for drafters or after-sales personnel.

Keep in mind that your audience doesn’t care about you—they want to know what’s in it for them. So, ask yourself the following:

  • What do you offer that gives your business a competitive advantage?
  • How does your initiative deliver value to your organization, and specifically to your audience?

That includes talking about benefits, not features—and making sure you supply your audience with all the information they need to take action.

3. Identify your ideal marketing mix

It’s time to decide which content types suit your campaign best.

Your content type could be anything from blog posts, webinars, town-hall meetings, infographics and more. In most cases, you’ll want to combine several content types to make your campaign more engaging.

If you’re having trouble identifying an ideal marketing mix for your upcoming initiative or need some fresh ideas to include in your plan, here are some ideas to get you inspired:

  • Videos: It’s no secret that people love watching videos. After all, videos are easy to consume, drive engagement and convey information better than text.
  • Images, graphics and print media:Beautiful visuals are a great way to create awareness and connect with your audience.
  • Written content:While video and interactive content are a trending topic, written content still plays a big role in marketing strategies. After all, the written word allows you to communicate detailed information at a pace determined by the reader.
  • eLearning:You might also consider eLearning to support your initiative. With eLearning, learners consume educational content on computers, tablets, and smartphones. Educational content can be a series of video tutorials, searchable training materials, screencasts, software simulations, or games.

eLearning is perfect for explaining complex concepts. It empowers learners to click around and touch the screen, which builds an engaging, intimate experience. Dragging content from one place to the next or making choices that affect what comes next helps us absorb information and keeps us hooked on the topic.

  • In-person meetings: In-person meetings make your communication plan stand out in this digital age. Personal communication is one thing technology can’t yet replace. Regular in-person communication creates the right motivation and culture—and the results pay for themselves.

4. Choose your communication channels

Once you’re clear on your content type, devise a plan for delivering it to your organization.

How will you get your content out there? Which channels will you use to promote your campaign? Email, internal social media, or maybe a post to the intranet?

Let’s review the most common channels:

  • Email: Still one of the most frequently used channels. Use email to invite people to your events, webinars and training sessions, to send your newsletter, and to share relevant content. Prepare an email series to share your content and get people excited about your initiative’s launch!
  • Internal social media: Internal social networks give employees a sense of online community and help forge connections between departments and functions. Create an online community of individuals who genuinely believe in your vision and are interested in your initiatives and products. Schedule your internal social media posts wisely. Make sure you start a conversation with your peers: ask for their opinions and feedback through pools and open questions, respond to comments and add calls to action for your posts.
  • Intranet: An intranet is a versatile medium, and unlike email or social media, content published on the intranet is there to stay—your users can read it at their own convenience and come back to it when needed. That’s why intranet works well for content such as training materials, video tutorials, case studies or white papers.
  • Live forums and meetings: Organizing a live forum and bringing your team out there is great to showcase your new PLM processes and systems. Use live forums to update your organization about new tools, share brochures and invitations to upcoming events. You might also want to consider supporting major releases and big programs with live forums to demo your products, talk to your users, answer questions and gather feedback.
  • Wall messaging, screens and banners: If a picture is worth a thousand words, a banner wall must be worth millions! These channels are inexpensive and easy to set up, perfect for reminding your people about your new processes, upcoming events like webinars or training, or getting them to join your ideation workshops or benchmarking events.

Deciding how to deliver your message to the organization can be tricky. Whichever channels you choose, remember that distribution should never be an afterthought—you should combine your content types and distribution channels wisely to get the best results out of your campaign.

5. Prepare your content

Now that you’ve framed your campaign strategy, it’s time to sit down with your team and focus on the content.

Online tools like Lucidchart or Mindmeister allow you to collaborate and brainstorm online in a visual format and are great to plan your content.

Keep in mind that the promotional campaign design and execution always work better when planned together. Remember who you’re talking to, and structure your content to tell your story with the “why” always in mind. Humans are wired for stories and absorb information better when there’s a context around it.

Also keep in mind that what starts within, spreads throughout. Including the “people aspect” in your internal communications efforts brings the message to life—so involve your users when creating your content! Consider an ‘interview-style’ post rather than a formal release note. And don’t forget to include real-life examples and testimonials to make your content more compelling and engaging!

6. Create a timeline and action plan

An action plan provides a detailed outline of the tasks required to bring your internal marketing campaign to life.

It’s time to pull your sleeves up and start writing down what exactly you’re going to do and when. Think about how you will schedule and publish your content. Choose action steps that are concrete and measurable and identify who is responsible for each action.

Prepare a marketing timeline to visualize the chronology of your action plan over time. You can use traditional Gantt charts or online tools like Asana or Trello. A timeline provides a clear schedule to follow and helps you stay on track!

Ready to Get Started?

It takes time, organization, and creativity to make internal marketing a part of your organization’s culture—to do it, you don’t need to follow every strategy listed here. The above is just an overview to get you thinking about marketing when you plan your PLM initiatives!

I’ve prepared a blueprint to help you remember everything and get started with your internal marketing! Grab the blueprint here. And let us know how your next campaign goes!

Begin practicing as soon as possible, even if you don’t have any new initiatives in the pipeline. Organize a “refresher training” program and revisit your current internal marketing methods and concepts. Remember, it’s all about starting a conversation with your audience!

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A step-by-step guide to organize your first promotion campaign.

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PLM Implementation: Ingredients of a Successful Change Management Initiative

plm implementation

Organizations embarking on a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) transformation should expect to achieve a step-change in business results. With this initiative businesses can provide access to clean data, streamline product development processes and improve efficiency. Organizations set bold expectations for their PLM implementation plans—yet after large investments and efforts, they often fail to leverage the promised benefits of PLM.

With broad, cross-functional activities spanning processes, systems and culture, PLM transformations are hard to get right. McKinsey & Company’s The Inconvenient Truth About Change Managementstates that roughly 70% of all change programs fail. And PLM is no exception.

What can we do about it? Is there a secret recipe to address the common threats to successful change?

Join our FREE-10 day 
PLM internal marketing email course.

Discover how internal marketing can boost your PLM initiatives and the exact steps to create an internal marketing campaign.

Jumpstarting your change initiative with the right ingredients

Crafting a compelling vision for the change is key to get your PLM initiative off to a good start. Begin with the result in mind. Your vision is a “picture” of what you aspire to achieve with your PLM transformation program.

Your vision must go beyond the change initiative itself. And often beyond the problem it’s solving, to a larger and more meaningful purpose. Articulating your vision statement is the first step to provide direction, inspiration and engagement for the change. A good vision needs to be clear and simple. Try to get rid of buzz words and explain what success looks like, and why it’s worth the change. “Developing better products and better experiences,” “be the first company who is fully digital end-to-end,” or “collaborate with our customers and suppliers with easier data sharing” are examples of visions for your PLM change implementation plan.

Once you have aligned stakeholders behind the vision, set the initiative’s goals and describe how to get there with a well-rounded strategy. By setting sharp, clear goals, you can measure your breakthrough and continuously motivate your organization to progress toward the vision. A good strategy answers the question, “How do we get there?” Your vision is useless unless it can direct action. Describe how you are going to get things done, and figure out how to achieve your goals.

You’ve crafted your vision and defined your strategy—it’s time to finally build your lead team. This group will be in charge of designing the program, communicating the change and ultimately guiding the implementation and rollout, championed by top management. Leadership support is vital for PLM transformation programs. Executive support will make the difference between the success or failure of your PLM implementation plan. Make sure you count on strong senior leadership support to help you convey the message, and secure the resources you need for your program to run smoothly.

The building blocks to make it work

Process, communication, training and support are key for your organization to make the change over.

Well-defined processes, with clear roles and objectives, help people overcome the awkwardness and discomfort of changing their way of working. The new processes need to guide them step-by-step through the change to make it stick.

Communication plays a powerful role in PLM implementation. Regular communication is essential to keep people engaged, get buy-in and commitment. Choose a variety of communication paths to reach your audience. Consider emails, focus groups, webcasts, updates on the company portal or feedback sessions. Be creative. Use multiple channels to communicate the same message once again. Regular and proactive communication can reduce resistance and make employees feel part of the process.

Change initiatives repeatedly fail because of short falls in the training and support strategy.

Training sessions are often delivered too far in advance and thus forgotten when the implementation is finally underway. Organize the training sessions as close as you can to the real implementation. Invest in engaging training materials. Make sure you provide the right combination of written documents, video recordings, classroom training, short use case video demonstrations and cheat sheets with straight-forward instructions to accomplish relevant tasks.

Helping staff and ensuring they get enough support is equally crucial. Hold your organization’s hand through the change, at least during the first months after the implementation. When questions arise, address them rapidly. Nothing will kill a PLM change initiative quicker than a drowsy support system.

The engines of change

Program Management is a commanding engine of change when it comes to PLM. A well-organized PLM implementation program, with clear-cut connected initiatives and a strategically thought-out roll-out plan, sets the ground for a successful transformation.

To motivate change, you must spell out why the current situation is not working, and contrast it with the benefits of a better tomorrow. Focus on helping your organization see that they’re dissatisfied with how things are, and that change can make things work. Create a sense of urgency to alert the organization that change must occur here and now. Provide employees with the opportunity to give feedback and vent their concerns, as well as their compliments.

Finally, measure progress with KPIs that relate to your vision, goals and objectives. Metrics must focus on key indicators that can gauge the overall health of your transformation program. It is important to celebrate successes along the way as changes are made.  Celebrating the small changes and building momentum for bigger changes is what makes employees want to participate in the process.

Understanding and overcoming resistance to change

Resistance is a natural part of change. Resistance to change may be rooted in fear, lack of trust or just confusion. Sometimes, employees might be focusing only on their part of the operation, and may fail to see the big picture and recognize the positive impact of the change on the organization. Thus, they may find the change disruptive and totally unnecessary.

Asking people to change is asking them to move outside their comfort zone. By understanding the causes of resistance in your organization, you will be better off and will be able to turn that fear into cooperation.

Manage your PLM program effectively in 12 steps.

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