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Digital Transformation

Importance of Marketing in Business Growth & Cultural Migration

Argyle_Ex_ForumI’m at the Argyle Executive CMO Forum in Atlanta. They focus on best practices in B2B marketing and have some great topics and content. This session focused on strategic marketing and cultural change. Jones Lang LaSalle speakers had some great success thinking strategically:


Ray Bouley, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Communications was interviewed about changes at Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL).

Mike Sivewright, marketing director and president of the Atlanta region, participated.

Question: What were you looking for at JLL for your change?

Answer: We had just brought in a $650M acquisition. The Atlanta office lacked a local identity and cultural. Historically, JLL hasn’t done a lot of advertising or external branding. The marketing department was a production shop with almost no PR, communication, etc. JLL needed to create a vision to unite everyone to move forward. Finally, we needed to create a local culture and communicate it.

Note: Coming to a large global organization meant running a company within a company. It was progress over perfection. Ray was used to trying for perfection.

Question: What did you do to set yourselves up for success?

Answer: First, I had to get to know key leadership. Then we needed to figure out the global goals.  Then take the things we needed to accomplish over a three-year cycle. You had to figure out the core objectives when it comes to localization of the brand. I didn’t know how to identify the culture because of my limited time at JLL. But in a short period of time, we realized there was a lack of articulation about the brand.

Mike: We spent a lot of time figure out what we wanted, to be the preeminent business realty firm in the southeast

Ray: The brand existed. That was a given. We just didn’t define and articulate it internally. We weren’t in a good place at that point. We took some time to talk to a lot of people and defined the goals.   This was great because it helped drive the marketing strategy.  We were doing all of this before we went to the external market.

Mike: We were focused internally rather than on the external market. We knew if we were together then the financial side would come together.

Question: How does a marketing person start with that?

Answer: In marketing you need to ask for the cultural change. This is strategic. Marketing is now accountable for everything it does. It doesn’t mean anything for your short term gain if you don’t achieve the long term goals.

Mike: We are in change management.  There were a lot of wins and some disappointments.

Question: What were the problems?

Answer: When you walk into an organization an their definition is business development rather than strategic marketing. I spent 80% of my time helping JLL getting over that hurdle.

Ray: we went through an exercise about what Marketing does and doesn’t do. We had to get past the unproductive asks. Hugely powerful brokers needed to understand the bounds. We put in a workflow management system that “allowed you to say no.” or at least a conditional yes.

There were a lot of times where we both felt uncomfortable.

Question: How many times did that discomfort make you worry about your job?

Answer: We both looked back and forth to stretch our boundaries.  When I first started, we couldn’t put our finger on anything which said, “This is our culture.” I wasn’t talking about a digital magazine. It’s purpose was to have people read and say, “This is who we are.” It was also used as a recruitment tool. JLL was known for having great people and culture. The magazine became a cultural statement of who we are.  We used it to differentiate ourselves and to help recruits understand a cultural fit.

Great Quote: “If you are going to really manage change, you need benchmarks for people to look to.”

If you aren’t thinking beyond the traditional financial goals, you can be exceptional. Revenue wasn’t an initial goal.

Question: How did marketing help?

We were able to help JLL to help understand their experience and not discount the value of that experience.  We built intellectual process graphics that highlighted the value JLL brings.

Ray: we drove a lot of efficiency in the production value of the team. As we had capacity or efficiency gains. As that happened, we capture the extra time to create better efficiencies. That included the ideation lab with win strategies. Marketing became a destination. This was a physical thing as well. Get them to come to marketing physically and put them out of their comfort zone.  Mike took some heat in some of this investment but he took it knowing there was a payoff.

Question: When did you first recognize when change started to happen?

There’s not light switch when it starts to happen. I inherited a team that was one step away from leaving. I communicated the future state and talked about the changes coming. The team turned around in a short amount of time and started to do things they didn’t do. Then, when we put in the workflow management system there was tremendous pushback. It within the first 120 days when I think we saw we were heading there.

Question: Are there any last thoughts you want to share with the group?

This was career defining. We did things we didn’t think we could do. You need to find that yourself.


Year 1: investment – flat on revenue side

Year 2-3: 32% yearly profit growth

Attrition: 2014-2015 had zero attrition for brokers. Salaried staff was below 3%.

JLL recognized the success in Atlanta and decided to do a decentralized national marketing program.

Question from the audience: Regarding the brand promise, how did you identify, believe and track the brand promise?

Answer: The brand promise exists whether you like it or not. We figured that out and stretched it. A lot of the tracking comes from a global cultural survey. We used to have 50% participation in that survey. It’s now at 86%.

From a culture standpoint, we were a full point below the national average. We now exceed the norm by 25%.

Question from audience: Can you talk about the skill set of the team you inherited and how you transformed it?

Answer: I inherited a group of people who were traditional doers. One had deep skills in business development side. I asked them to come to me with solutions to problems that scared me. By inspiring people to go beyond where they think they are in their own box. Then you have to back them up. The team was good. We taught them how to improve those strategic skills.

Mike: We scaled up the team and brought in some specialized resources to augment the team.

Question from audience: At what point in time did your customers see the change?

Ray: I know we had impact within first six months. I was able to go to a client and talk about how our people think vs what we do.

Mike: At the same time were were defining a vision, we were making some structural changes. We completely changed out the leadership team.  We found “situations” that didn’t fit our cultural values and made the changes. The external community realized there was a  change pretty quickly. It took about 12 months.

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Michael Porter

Mike Porter leads the Strategic Advisors team for Perficient. He has more than 21 years of experience helping organizations with technology and digital transformation, specifically around solving business problems related to CRM and data.

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