Marketers are born communicators, but how many of us do all this wonderful work, then don’t share it with colleagues or the C-Suite? We get so wrapped up in our external campaign launches that we forget our most important audiences – those who pay us and those who serve our customers!
Let’s start with our colleagues. There are three important communications objectives here:
1. Make sure each associate understands and can articulate your brand position and value proposition.
They need to be able to consistently and positively answer the following questions:
“Why should I do business with you?”
“What makes your organization different or better than your competitor down the street?”
It’s marketing’s job to do the brand homework and come up with those answers. But it’s not enough for you to embed this brand position in ads and products. It needs to be embraced at the highest levels, so it can be reflected in policies, procedures, recruiting and training practices. And it needs to be understood by every colleague so it’s consistently delivered to customers at all touchpoints, all the time.
2. Make sure your colleagues intimately understand your campaigns, products, and offers before you launch them.
In the last post, I highlighted the disconnect between the telecom provider’s ad campaign and training of their call center personnel. This lack of effective communication happens all the time, especially at large organizations, and it results in lost opportunities and wasted resources.
Best practice suggests that you treat your colleagues as a critical segment to be communicated to for each campaign, and develop a “media strategy” to effectively deliver the message, including training if necessary. It's important to have fun with this! I’ve seen organizations develop product or campaign knowledge quizzes, with prizes. You are competing for attention with your colleagues just like you are with external prospects, so develop something engaging that they will want to pay attention to. Help them understand how the program benefits them as well as their customers and relate it to their pocketbook if at all possible.
3. Make sure your message is seen and heard.
Your colleagues, especially your front line employees, are bombarded with messages all day in both their physical and email boxes. In fact, many of them receive so much information they can’t physically read it all. That means that you could communicate an important new campaign or program, and many of your customer contact people are not even aware of it.
How do you get around that?
1. Use multiple channels and vehicles, not just one.
2. Get on the radar screen of their bosses, and try to get them to reinforce the message at weekly staff or sales meetings.
3. Think about developing a regular “must read” communication that has valuable information – that they and their bosses see value in. Work with your sales and service managers to co-develop this, because chances are, they are having the same communication challenges with their teams. This will help solidify your relationship with your important sales partners.
Okay, so enough about colleague communication. What about the executive team?
I’ve been guilty of keeping a low profile. I would develop and launch marketing programs, measure the results, give credit to the sales teams, and keep executive management in the dark, because nothing good can come from getting up in front of executives and sharing your campaign before it’s launched. God forbid, they might not like it!
Maybe you’ve been guilty of this too, but it does a huge disservice both to you and your team. Most executives don’t have a marketing background and don’t really understand what you do or the value you add to the organization. But many of them (and your board) hear about marketing all the time. How it’s going digital, how analytics is so important, and how it needs to be measurable. It’s your job to educate every chance you can, so they begin to understand what marketing is, why you are doing what you are doing, and the difference it is making. Where possible, talk about quantitative goals and results, not just activities. How many new customers were attracted, and how much incremental revenue was generated?
Establish a “scorecard” that summarizes the critical goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) and deliver them to your executive team at least quarterly and try to present the same information to your board at least once a year.
This information and education process will pay dividends. Your proactivity will give them comfort that you are abreast of trends, and they will be less likely to question your programs. Focusing on results rather than activities will position marketing as a revenue partner, and an investment rather than an expense. And changing that perception can make all the difference during budget season, when the CEO and CFO realize that, to increase sales, they need to increase marketing!
Learn more in our free webinar
For more on this topic and the other ways you can start 2017 on the best note possible, be sure to register for our webinar, "Jump-starting Your Sales Efforts in 2017," on Jan. 26 at 1:00 p.m. CDT. Register below.