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This article was published 6/10/2018 (754 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Launching a new product or service or hosting a grand reopening, are some of the most exciting moments for companies, their employees and their customers. There is such a wide range of emotions as you move through the preparation, planning, and long hours preceding that moment where you "go live." Everyone is working together.
And then you have liftoff. Isn’t it exciting to see happy customers and employees?
One of my mentors, Walter L., said, "Great marketing begins at home."
What he meant was that everyone in an organization, whether for profit, not-for-profit, corporate or government, is part of the marketing department. This is because every person has a customer contact — external or internal. And every contact is an opportunity to have a positive outcome or create a negative impression. These opportunities happen every day and not just on special occasions.
It took awhile for this point to hit home for me, and began when I was conscious of the impression I was making with my teams and colleagues. I realized these messages were as important a part of our marketing effort, and our brand, as everything focused on people outside the organization.
If great marketing truly begins at home, it makes sense that every employee should know and understand the organization they work for and their role in it. Employees need this information, even if marketing is not their primary responsibility. People who work in shipping and receiving can create a positive impression at the loading dock in the same way as the greeting at the reception desk. Accounting’s interaction with suppliers is as much a part of the brand as the interaction with customers of the retail locations. How do you ensure consistency across your organization?
There are many methods to communicate your message and reinforce everyone’s role. Some people are spokespeople, and this public role has a major responsibility. You are the voice of the company, becoming synonymous with the product or service. It is a role that must not be taken lightly.
Other roles are less public initially, but may create a major impact in the future. For example, the credit department sends notes to customers who are delinquent in their payment. Some notes I’ve seen have been respectful, courteous and are really just a gentle nudge to make a payment. Most people react positively to such messages. Other credit notes are abrupt, accusatory and demand immediate payment or promise "consequences." These notes tend to result in customers getting angry and taking a stand. Sometimes there is an issue with the product or service, and the company representative has not properly advised the credit department. Trust and confidence of the customer can be eroded when they see internal missteps that cause confusion or errors.
Do you provide corporate talking points to ensure consistent messaging? Executives must also be familiar with the company’s marketing strategy and activities. They travel in key industry and customer circles, and must know and support the overall efforts so they can be advocates. There is almost nothing worse for a company’s reputation than senior executives disparaging the company’s marketing efforts in a public setting. The ramifications can be disastrous.
All messages made by an organization, and its employees, will affect a customer’s perception. The customer may send these messages to their senior leadership, and the resulting confusion could jeopardize your new product or service offering.
Customers are perceptive and pick up on these nuances. Consider your personal experiences. When you are in a new store and a harried clerk claims "management didn’t plan this very well," your overall confidence will decline. If you are told the item you have ordered and paid for is suddenly "out of stock," you are never pleased. Customers have always voted with their wallet. No customers results in no business. No business means no need for employees. No employees mean no store.
Do you still doubt that everyone is in marketing?
An important exercise you should conduct includes mapping all your customer contact points and investigating what types of problems can arise. Then you can set about fixing them by making sure that all employees are on the same page. When you see possible breaking points, you will see what you need to fix. You will also find those opportunities to delight your customer. The bedrock of a good brand is authenticity and consistency.
Tim’s Bits: Do you tell your employees how their role fits with the marketing message? Do you assess the key performance factors and celebrate your success? Do you collect meaningful feedback and data so that you can make informed adjustments?
Tim Kist is a certified management consultant who works with organizations to improve their overall performance by being truly customer focused. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim is a certified management consultant with more than two decades of experience in various marketing and sales leadership positions.
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