Managing Change - Dealing with Resistance When Moving Forward
You are part of a successful company. You've established a solid team, developed valuable products or services, and you've done alright for yourself so far. However, in today's world doing alright isn't always enough. Search engine marketing has gone from being an advantage to a competitive necessity. SEM, including Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click initiatives have become the foundation for effective Web site marketing.
Last month, comScore, an online Internet measurement service, published the August 2008 U.S. Search Engine Rankings. They state that Americans conducted 11.7 billion searches in August. If you haven't implemented an SEM campaign yet, you are losing out on customers and sales. Potential customers are using search engines to find products and services. Are they finding your company?
When you're tired of seeing quality traffic and high search engine rankings pass you by, it's time to hire an SEM firm. This step will mean change for some of your employees, and too often, change is met with resistance. Employees are especially resistant to change when they feel their jobs may be affected. In some cases, an SEM firm may lighten the workload of some, while it may add to the workload of others. No matter why your employees feel resistant to an SEM firm, that resistance can harm your company and your SEM campaign.
An SEM firm often works with a variety of employees from different departments. Here is a short list of departments that SEM firms commonly work with. It is important to understand how and why these teams or individuals may view an SEM firm as something to resist.
- Executives: Typically this is the group that initiates or at least approves hiring an SEM specialist. Executive buy-in to the program is the first step to effective implementation. Executive support is necessary; but it isn't the only thing they must provide. In some cases, executives do not fully understand the purpose or need for an SEM firm, and that can cause tension. It is important for executives to learn about SEM, and serve as a resource when introducing an SEM firm into a company. Many employees will watch executives to see how the SEM firm should be treated. When the Execs respond positively and professionally, the rest of the company is more likely to follow suit.
- Marketing specialists: The Marketing department is often an integral part of an SEM campaign. At E-Power, we've often seen an SEM firm come in to enhance the work a Marketing team has been doing online. Very often Marketing teams understand some SEM basics, and have been building their online presence on those fundamentals. When an SEM firm is hired, some problems can arise when Marketing teams feel that they are being replaced, when in reality, their groundwork is being built upon and improved. In the same way that an SEM firm couldn't do your Marketers jobs at the highest level, it takes specialized SEM professionals to get top results for your company online. In the end, it takes team work between both Marketing specialists and SEM professionals to create and effectively implement the latest and most beneficial SEM strategies for your business.
- Technology professionals: A company's Tech team is another vital piece of the SEM team effort. Tech teams are often responsible for following through with an SEM campaign and implementing technical changes to company Web sites or perform other important responsibilities. This may disrupt the current work flow of the department, and may cause some hard feelings. At E-Power, we've unfortunately seen our work get tabled by a Tech department who didn't understand the need for the changes. It is important for the Tech team to understand the benefits a specialized SEM firm can provide. An SEM firm often values the roles of Technology professionals, but it is necessary for a Tech department to recognize the roles of SEM specialists as well.
It takes solid leadership and a strong commitment to overcome the resistance to change. Last month, I wrote about Corporate Culture, SEM, and You, and how to smooth the transition when bringing an SEM firm in. Those tips are very relevant when faced with resistance, especially now that you have a better understanding of how and why different departments may react to the news that your company will be utilizing an SEM firm. Ultimately, a professional and comfortable environment must be established for everyone involved in the SEM campaign. It is extremely important for your company that all employees, both from the SEM firm and within your company, are held accountable for their portion of the work. Your company's future is at stake. Are you taking the appropriate steps to move forward?