It’s not surprising that for many marketers, enterprise activation can be a nebulous term. And frankly, the idea potentially encompasses so many functions across a company—from operations to customers service to fulfillment, that even deciding which activation points to focus on can be a daunting task. Regardless of the specifics, what does the general term mean anyway? Enterprise activation is about creating a shared vision for success then aligning and coordinating the internal departments, resources and processes needed to deliver exceptional brand, user or customer experiences.
Whew. Encompassing, indeed. And to complicate things further, choosing and prioritizing the messages and tactics needed to pull that off can differ wildly, company to company. But no matter what the size or type of enterprise you’re seeking to activate, here’s a list of five basic activation areas every company should undertake.
1. Craft a vision statement
A vision statement is an essential tool for promoting understanding throughout any organization. The most successful of those should define an aspirational state of what the enterprise would like to achieve or accomplish and provide a clear guide for evaluating business choices today, as well as evaluating and prioritizing future plans of action.
An example: Amazon’s vision statement: “Our vision is to be earth's most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.” Its bold language leaves them focused on their purpose, yet open to innovative arrangements like affiliate marketing and contract fulfillment, and unique lines of business like Amazon Web Services (AWS). And, undoubtedly, it seems to be working for them.
2. Prioritize an enterprise-wide goal
If you have a viable vision statement, now you need to define a measurable goal that stakeholders throughout the business can focus on to guide their individual efforts. Whether it’s a customer related goal (increased awareness levels, positive net promoter score, improved conversions, etc.), a specific business goal (revenue targets, improved operating margin, broad market share, etc.), or operational (zero waste to landfill, 100% renewable energy usage, etc.), the act of choosing “the big one” for the enterprise to rally around can be instrumental in activating the enterprise. There is always opportunity to be found in getting everyone in the company to pull on the same rope. But you’ll improve greatly your chances of making it happen when you define what the rope looks like.
3. Define and measure your KPIs
To extend our rope metaphor, your key performance indicators (KPIs) tell everyone just how far they’ve moved whatever goal is on the business end of that rope. It’s not always possible to choose a KPI that is a direct measure of progress against the goal. But there is always some viable proxy. For example, if you don’t have a budget to conduct formal pre/post campaign awareness studies, you could examine your web analytics for any changes in the frequency of unique visitors. The main point is that you choose a KPI that is sufficiently available and transparent to be communicated throughout the company in as close to real time as possible, so that stakeholders throughout the enterprise feel their actions are directly influential to its movement and can use the measure of it to evaluate their effective progress against the enterprise-wide goal.
4. Cross-departmental process evaluation
Potentially the most resource-intensive and complex points in this post, cross-departmental process evaluation is about cataloging and auditing those company processes that have the greatest impact on your chosen goals and KPIs. The purpose is to uncover where there may be processes that are bottlenecks to reduce, or accelerative behaviors that should be promoted throughout the enterprise. An example would be if your main goal is to increase revenues, and the KPI for measuring progress is converted web leads. Upon examining the cross-departmental processes, you find the web site is delivering an adequate level of form fills and warm leads, but processes or systems for distribution of and follow up on those leads within the sales department is inordinately delayed. That makes it very clear you should focus remedial efforts on shortening the time between lead acquisition and first follow-up to improve efficiencies and maximize conversions.
5. Employee communications & campaigns
At the foundation of activation is understanding. You’ve crafted a vision statement and defined all the variables that go into achieving and measuring the impact of them. But enterprise activation is never as simple as a “build it and they will come” kind of program. Activating any enterprise requires communications. In practice, that may manifest as something as simple as a t-shirt or mug with the vision statement silkscreened on it, or as complex as creating digital signage in the company elevators, or coding a bespoke social network for use inside the company. There’s no simple, best-practices solution for employee communications and campaigns. How much of an effort this is correlates directly with the scale and global footprint of the enterprise.
Go forth and activate
If branding and marketing is about talking the talk, enterprise activation is about making sure the business is truly walking the walk.