Caterpillar’s Product Support division needed help creating a unified marketing strategy and customer-facing experience, but sub-groups within the division needed to align internally first.
The division faced many challenges:
- Siloed, fragmented marketing. The unit was divided into various sub-groups which developed their marketing strategies independently. This resulted in fractured marketing communications and inconsistent messaging.
- Channel fragmentation. Sub-groups used different channels to share their message and content. Even content on the corporate website it was disconnected.
- Varied readiness levels. Sub-groups within the division were in varying stages of digital marketing maturity. As a result, content and communication quality from group to group varied.
- Different versions of success – Each sub-group had a slightly different version of success based on the unique needs of their product.
The goal for our work included:
- Creating a value proposition that was broad enough to be applied universally across all product groups. Provide guidelines about the value proposition could be adapted to meet the needs of the product group.
- Developing a general digital strategy that could be replicated across all groups. Strategy included a framework for media, website, and lead conversion activities. With better coordination across groups overlap and duplicate efforts could be eliminated.
- Developing a conceptual model for the division’s website. This to-be strategy would bring all sub-groups under one roof, maximizing their marketing effectiveness. Rather than use independent microsites, they would use Cat.com, the corporate marketing platform.
I worked as a strategist on this project, working closely with Product Support leaders to address the fragmentation. Activities included the following.
I aligned stakeholders across the globeGathering stakeholders across the globe together for a facilitated discussion of the challenges and opportunities facing the unit.
I developed strategic recommendations from global researchDeveloping strategic recommendations from global research which considered all sub-groups, their goals, and their marketing needs.
Strategic recommendations considered:
- Alignment of messaging, content, and channels with business goals across diverse set of customers, regions, and dealers.
- Alignment with companies’s customer journey map framework and Learn/Shop/Buy model
- Integration with POPs business units
- Connectivity of multiple experiences & platforms
- Early ideas for integrating messaging in the technology/ solutions space
I built a 20-foot long ecosystem map with wireframes
Building a 20-foot long ecosystem map with wireframes to illustrate a radically different digital marketing and website strategy. We affectionately refer to this as the “monster map”.
The map is blurred for confidentiality, but it itself visualized:
- How existing Product Support content, platforms, and campaigns could be integrated
- How new content and campaigns could be incorporated
- How a consistent framework for product support messaging, content, and layout would unify the experience (even if on different platforms)
- Key on the left side provided definitions for icons used throughout the map
I conducted collaborative workshops and presented map
Conducted collaborative workshops and presented map to leadership, marketing manager, and team members, each time gaining deeper buy-in.
I Iterated the map based on feedback from others
Iterated the map based on feedback from others. Soon, the map represented a shared vision where all parties could see where they fit into the mix and understood the value of combining forces.
These exercises were incredibly effective at aligning the day-to-day realities of cross-functional teams on the ground with the perceptions held by leadership. This effectively:
- Galvanized the product support unit by bringing marketing teams and leadership under the same umbrella with a shared vision.
- Sparked open dialogue that resulted in innovative ideas and provided a basis for discussion with technology groups.
- Inspired action. Future digital marketing activities were crafted with this vision in mind.
Lesson 1: The Importance of Stakeholder Analysis
Regardless of the type of project I am working on, I have always conducted stakeholder analysis of any internal players as a part of my personal process. This was a habit from my early change management training that never died.
The stakeholder analysis that I completed in the early phase of this process was used here to aid with consensus building. It helped me develop an empathic perspective on how each individual’s goals could be achieved within the recommended approach.
Because I had taken the time to understand their objectives, I was able to help them see themselves reflected in the map.
Lesson 2: The Importance of Visualization in Strategic Storytelling
Though I had a written strategy, I knew that an idea this big could only be communicated via visuals.
I enjoyed seeing people interact with the visual, write their thoughts on it, and make it their own. The best ideas and great dialogue amongst the group happened in front of that map, which was full of post-it notes and handwritten sharpie messages after each session.