Getting buy in for your digital strategy

16th July 2014

How to get funding, support and sponsorship from senior management

Depending on culture and other factors you will have a degree of control over ‘digital maturity’. What has become apparent is that there is a clear connection between digital maturity and the ability of digital leaders to secure buy-in from their senior management. Where there is buy-in, the board is prepared to invest in a programme of change that puts digital marketers centre stage. Where there isn’t buy-in it’s common to see frustration and resulting churn and disruption in digital teams. It’s an all too common problem.

So when considering the motivations of senior management, we sometimes use a concept originating from Amazon – that of the H.I.P.P.O. (HIghest Paid People in the Organisation). So…your vision may be clear, but to share that vision in a way that inspires and energises the HIPPOs is another challenge entirely.

Here are some tips and tactics we’ve put together from our experience as an agency

Building a business case

Before you start preparing your case, consider three important questions about your HIPPOs:

  1. What are the short and long term strategic priorities of your organisation?
  2. What benefits can be expected from your initiative, and how do these align with organisational goals?
  3. What are the leadership styles and motivators of your HIPPOs?

Once you can answer these questions, you’ll be able to build up a picture of where your vision fits into the business from the HIPPOs point of view. That gives you a head start in building up an argument that becomes more and more compelling – until the penny drops.

Not only do you need to say the right things to your HIPPOs, you also need to say them in the right way. This means speaking in their language and communicating in a way they can relate to.

Speaking HIPPO

Clearly you’ll need to focus your pitch on the benefits of your plans versus other equally deserving initiatives. The HIPPOs will be sure to pay attention when you show how you’ll anticipate customer needs and leapfrog the competition. And for those risk-averse directors, you can focus on the risk of doing nothing and being eclipsed by other, more nimble operators.

Adding third party credibility is another way of weighting things in your favour. That could mean referencing research findings, using surveys or bringing in an independent expert. And remember, there are low-cost ways to achieve much the same thing. Consider doing your own user testing. By recording simple DIY videos of real users performing common tasks, you will open the eyes of senior stakeholders – there will always be surprises.

Of course you can also let the stats do the talking for you…

Track and measure your KPIs

Showing ROI from your spend is crucial to getting future buy in from your HIPPOs. Without this, how can they approve further spending when you next arrive, cap in hand? Without doubt, your Key Performance Indicators (KPI) should be well-defined and easily trackable, so you can prove that your digital vision is working for the business. Your KPIs will align with the overarching strategy, demonstrating how your plan feeds into core goals and aims of the business.

Your goal should be to transcend basic metrics such as visitors and leads generated. You’ll need to tempt your HIPPOs with the promise of measuring concepts like ‘engagement’. With the right software, you can set up personas, goals and score content to measure ‘customer engagement’. Turning engagement from a vague concept into accessible numbers you can visualise will go a long way to justifying digital investment.

As an agency we see a lot of companies at different stages of digital maturity with different degrees of senior buy-in. The good news is that, with the right support and software, companies can mature rapidly. And remember getting buy-in is not a single task…like digital transformation, it’s an ongoing process.