"We fear change," said Chris Ferris, VP of Marketing at BubbleUp at the AMA Houston June Academy. At Texas Children's Hospital, Ferris successfully proved the importance of social media to senior leadership by addressing their fears about using social media. He convinced them that the feedback received would help them create a better product and deliver a greater service to current and potential customers. After making his case, the organization grew from no social media presence to staffing two full-time marketers.

By using data and solid information, marketers in their own organizations can convince other departments or stakeholders to bring their digital efforts up to speed. Delving into how people can bring change into their organization, Chris recommends starting with the "why" behind the change to increase buy-in. His lessons for change include: hard work; find an internal champion; use leverage; ask for forgiveness, not permission; pilot test; and use data to make your case.

Shining light into fears, uncertainty, and unknown while countering with data allowed Ferris to persuade senior leaders. Michelle LeBlanc, Eric Melchor, and Aaron Reeves echoed the importance of data in their process of working with clients. How does each succeed in championing change?

LeBlanc tests new tools and stays up-to-date on the latest social media updates to see if something new will create better results for her team and clients. She regularly allocates time for herself to try a new tools and spend time reading about trends. Even if she considers herself an "outlier" in the amount of time she spends, staying on top of changes helps her to create targeted campaigns, exploit the full functionality of social, and be ready to jump in to the next feature roll-out. Leblanc "creates a budget from the analytics, not previous budgets" to keep the team strategically aligned to latest technologies and tactics that are working for clients.

Melchor combines his intuition with data, without letting intuition rule. He recommends using Facebook or client's homepage scroller to test concepts. Using these litmus tests let him avoid costly mistakes and get an idea of what resonates with customers, since it may not be what he expects. He says that initial campaigns coming out of the data should "have a direct affect on the organization by increasing revenue. Then you can get buy in for the other things you want to do."

Reeves starts with on-page SEO and site speed to demonstrate quick wins for clients. By making these changes in one client he was able to lower the cost per lead from $600 to $90. Demonstrating large, quick wins increases client trust and helps him continue delivering great work. Collaborating in person, while working from home - developing a style that works for his life - helps Reeves stay in the right mindset to continue driving change.

Kimberly Derry of Jones Carter who attended the June Academy said, " The most helpful thing was the information about sites. Our site needs to be updated and I loved the tools we could use to show them about changes. We need some refreshing. I found a way to make my case."

The Academy attendees, dedicated to learning how to champion change in their organization, came to "learn some new trends" and have a "refresher" on digital marketing. They left with a set of tactics, tools, and courage to assuage fears that resist change in their their own organizations.

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