“There is nothing more innovative than agriculture. We have to feed the world,” says Julie Scheife, Director of Digital Engagement at Land O’Lakes. While this ethos has guided the company’s products for over a hundred years, digital change hasn’t always been central to their marketing strategy.

That all changed in 2016, when the company launched their Digital Marketing Leadership Team – a cross functional group of changemakers from various backgrounds, who were tasked with transforming the way Land O’Lakes told its brand story. Julie and her IT counterpart Erika Johnson led the charge and together crafted a “recipe” for global digital change.

“We had a lot of stories to tell. The way we could deliver them to our members, our customers, and our consumers was the digital space.” – Julie Scheife, Director of Digital Engagement at Land O’Lakes

The key to their recipe for change? A strong Marketing-IT partnership. Here’s how they worked together to chart the future of digital for Land O’Lakes’ marketing organization.

Assembling the right team

At Land O’Lakes both Marketing and IT had independently tried to develop a strategy for digital transformation, but it was only once they joined forces that they achieved widespread success. Erika and Julie credit this accomplishment to three critical steps that they took early in the process.

  1. Buy-in from the top
    The Digital Marketing Leadership Team was sponsored by both the CIO and CMO, which kicked the partnership off on the right foot and helped shift the culture towards digital-first from the top down.
  2. Filling up the roster
    Land O’Lakes brought on additional marketing-focused IT specialists, ensuring that the project was staffed with the right number of people with the right mix of skills. Above and beyond skillsets, they needed a group who had the drive and curiosity to solve problems of the scale and complexity of Land O’Lakes’ digital transformation.
  3. Bringing the team together
    Once the right talent was in place, the biggest hurdle was to eliminate silos across functions and specialities. The leadership team encouraged open and consistent collaboration in order to help everyone become more efficient and usher in digital change.

“It’s been great to work closely with marketing to understand where they are coming from” – Erika Johnson, Senior IT Portfolio Manager

Assessing the situation from all angles

Having assembled their team, Erika and Julie were ready to kick their transformation into high gear. But it was important for them to thoroughly understand the project’s goals before they started implementing solutions. Erika and Julie used three primary types of insights to create a rally cry for the team, establishing a “north star” that everyone could aim towards.

  1. Think about your customer
    The Land O’Lakes team wanted to gain an in-depth understanding of the lives and needs of their customers. In particular they wanted to find out how digital was changing the way they lived and worked and how Land O’Lakes could fit into that story.
  2. Talk to your peers
    Julie and Erika met with marketing and IT leaders at peer companies both inside and outside the agriculture industry. They asked about their peer’s experiences with digital change, gathered best practices, and identified potential roadblocks.
  3. Consult your employees
    The Land O’Lakes team carried out a thorough employee survey, asking for feedback on the current state of digital within the company. Erika and Julie were able to leverage the direct feedback – particularly from younger members of the organization – to craft their digital goals and drive urgency around retaining brand innovation.

Building and delivering a roadmap

Marketers know the value of having a plan before you execute any initiative – and digital transformations are no exception. The big difference is that unlike a campaign or a piece of content, this plan has to be crafted in close partnership with IT.  

For the Land O’Lakes team this roadmap focused on building an insight capability to better understand their customers, implementing a system to improve their content based on these findings, and discovering new ways to get smart on digital distribution and relationship marketing.

For Erika, creating a detailed roadmap gave the team a rubric for making decisions on inbound requests. If an internal leader made an additional ask or wanted something to happen quicker or in a different order, the team could refer to their agreed upon process and priorities.

Reflecting and refining the process

Above and beyond all of these innovative plans and processes, the Land O’Lakes team’s success is directly tied to their ability to critique their own work and learn both from their achievements and their challenges. Erika and Julie view their digital transformation as an on-going process, and they are constantly adjusting their approach to evolve their brand for the future as it arises.

To learn more about how Percolate is helping Land O’Lakes deliver on their digital transformation goals, download our case study.