Building Front-line Buy-in

If there has been one significant change in the area of marketing and engagement, it is the almost complete ubiquity of “programs”.  Some of them have names like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.  Others have names like Salesforce, Marketo, Dynamics, and Infusionsoft.  Yet despite the great fanfare, why does the system’s promise rarely materialize?

Consider how the system is implemented:
  • A problem is identified.
  • A vendor prescribes the medicine: merely purchase software package X (or spend time doing Z), and all will be well.
  • The software is purchased and configured.
  • No one uses it.
  • The problem remains.
The biggest obstacle to solving the problem is not the lack of software, but the lack of buy-in from front-line staff.  Or in other words, tools make it possible, but people make it happen.  Too often, the “cost” of the software is measured only in the license fees, not the implementation.
Here are eight critical factors that if omitted or poorly executed, will guarantee failure:
  1. Training (and more training, and more training.)
  2. Monitoring activity (by leaders and front-line managers.
  3. Align front-line interests with the organization’s goals.
  4. Incentives / Gamification to encourage usage.
  5. Performance appraisal/personal goals tie-in.
  6. Leaders lead by example:  the new system isn’t just for the rank-and-file.
  7. Sensitivity to the difficulty of change.
  8. Flexibility / Mid-course correction: as the system is implemented, more will be discovered.
This week’s action plan: Are there any programs that should solve “the problem” in your organization, but remain either unused, or actively opposed?  If so, it isn’t too late: what might it take to re-launch the program to generate that buy-in? The list above can help.
Marketing insight #1:  While front line buy-in is absolutely required, there are other important reasons why a system might not be adopted.  Chief amongst them are Incorrect system selection in the first place, poor configuration, data quality problems, and lack of integration with other systems.  Not sure if these are the problem?  A system and process review can provide an objective assessment.
Marketing insight #2:  Momentum is more important than perfection.  Implementing a modest first phase with plenty of “wins” will generate the momentum that is necessary to implement later, more complex functionality.
Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
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Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail’s GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released “Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business”, and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and


Randall Craig has founded several successful start-ups, held a long-time position at a “big-four” consulting firm, and was an executive at an American public company. He currently serves as the 108 ideaspace CEO and chief strategist. Randall has been advising on digital strategy since 1994: he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail’s GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations.

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