Tag Archives: Surendra Phatak

Why aren’t we marketing change?

Last week I made a statement ‘ We need to change how we change’ and I promised that I am going to discuss all the things we need to change about the way we change. So here I am..

The second thing that irritates me about change management programs is that these programs are always communicated but never marketed or sold to the employees. If we are going to treat employees as customers then we need to market the change programs to them and convince them to buy products/services (benefits) delivered by the change programs.

I have a lot of respect for internal communication as a discipline but when it comes to change programs communication isn’t enough. We literally need the employees to buy into the change and the benefits that the change will deliver. I have time and again felt that internal comms teams are great with communication but come up short when it comes to marketing and selling. That is where I believe marketers can come in and help drive campaigns to sell Features, Advantages and Benefits of the change programs.

The whole marketing world is trying to target customers on a one-to-one basis. The marketing community struggles with data and what that data can tell them. That is why I feel every marketer should relish marketing the change management programs. You exactly know who the customer is. You know where your customer is. You have almost all the data you need about them. Why wouldn’t you want to take on such a campaign?

Yet I have come across very few marketing professionals working on change and transformation projects. Don’t get me wrong, there are many marketing professionals working in the space but they are not doing a marketing job on the change teams. (at least in my experience.)

There might be many reasons for the missing marketers but here is the real one as per me – Marketing is not given as much importance as all the other aspects of a change program. I might sound like a broken record here but that stems from the fact that we do not treat employees as customers so we do not really feel the need to sell to them!

So here is what I have told you yet

  • We need to change how we change
  • We need to treat employees as customers
  • We need to market change

I am going to talk about many more aspects of changing how we change but that will have to wait for another week.


We need to change how we change!

We do, we really do.. The more I learn about how we drive change in organisations, more I am convinced that we need to change how we change. This problem is severe when it comes to change driven by IT systems. Funnily enough, that covers each and every change programs now a days.

I am going to spend a lot of time about what we need to change but let me start with something fundamental – We seem to be calling internal customers as ‘users’. For the lack of better word, I hate that and with good reason.

If you ask me, most of the issues with our change management approach stem from there. The moment we say internal customers are ‘users’, the way we treat them changes fundamentally

  • Customer is always right, but user… may be not! Users needs to be told what is right..
  • We are obliged to deliver what the customer asks for, but users? may be not..
  • If customers are not buying our products and services we question ourselves. If users are not ‘adopting’ the system, we question them with the assumption that they just don’t get it.

Just for a second, let’s assume internal transformation teams are start-up projects and employees are their customers. Do you think that business is ever going to be successful with the way they currently treat their customers?

I am sure I am not the first one who has thought about this and I will not be the last one. There is a big body of research done on why transformation programs fail and I am sure in that research someone somewhere has begged transformation teams to start treating internal employees as Customers. I am sure the IT and Transformation teams have the right intentions but something somewhere must be making it impossible to treat employees as Customer. More about that in the next post..