I read a line recently, “Everything is marketing.” How true.
We all have the potential to influence people every day. If you don’t believe that, you probably don’t buy products, share opinions with friends, or have a Facebook page.
I’ve worked for marketing companies most of my career — two powerhouses, one startup — and have executed some amazing campaigns for some amazing clients. A great deal of time and money goes into building a brand, gaining attention, and telling a story to consumers. But what goes on inside the brand? And is anybody listening?
Here’s the bottom line: a company’s success is largely based on what its employees do (or don’t do), just as much as what their customers do (or don’t do). So where’s the marketing to employees? How are they being influenced? Today’s tactic of “you’re lucky to have a job” may be one source of motivation. However, coercion is not the answer to winning in the marketplace: inclusion is.
So when I was asked to troubleshoot Customer Support at the startup, I knew what needed to be done. I had heard tons of complaints about their lack of product knowledge, their inability to get issues resolved, and their habit of giving away credits (a/k/a revenue) to soothe angry customers.
The team was based in California (our headquarters were in New York) so they were far from the everyday action — a difficult situation in any large operation, impossible in a startup where change is an everyday event. It seemed everyone in New York had something to say about this group, but very few actually interacted with them. Why??
Here was a team of support agents who were fun, flexible, social through and through, and passionate about our product and all kinds of entertainment media. In short, they were our target audience. And, one more thing — they were the perfect change agents.
Customer Service is Marketing, is Change, and is Revenue.
Customer Service is where the rubber meets the road, the best advantage point of influence. Yet, it is often overlooked and underutilized. Many companies find the word ‘service’ boring. So it is not surprising how little support customer support gets — another change that has to happen if businesses want to succeed. They don’t see that customer service is change management at its finest, that the same elements needed for employee buy-in and great service — communication, participation, education, commitment — are the same elements needed for customer buy-in and great sales.
Just think of all the companies you love and hate, and why, and I’ll bet your customer service experience played an enormous role in making up your mind, or changing it. Correct?
Marketing from the inside out is effecting change through exchange.
So, I began a dialogue between Customer Support and Marketing, Customer Support and Product Development, Customer Support and Merchandising … you get the idea. Whether you’re influencing employees or customers, the dialogue has to be continuous, connected and contagious to work. The success you have with your internal audience will help you win your external one. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Our Marketing team got Customer Support involved in everything we were doing, and a great exchange of ideas and enthusiasm ensued. We discussed customer wants and needs, new feature buzz, targeted campaigns, and product development. We shipped our latest store merchandise out to California so they could see and feel what we were selling, and flew our product manager out to train agents for a new launch. The agents tested new products and shared invaluable feedback from our customers’ point of view that helped us tailor our offerings the right way. Everyone was focused, collaborating, and on the same page: exactly where you want your customer to be.
Employees engaged in the brand, support the brand from the inside out.
It is the job of today’s business leaders to market from the inside out, to take every opportunity to engage employees because, after all, they’re customers too. Begin the dialogue, open doors, get people involved. Share marketing ideas, do internal market research, get product feedback. Create a culture that is customer responsive by being employee responsive too.
Be the brand you want everyone to identify with. Your best campaign and biggest revenue driver is sitting right in front of you.
Marketing has been defined as: “the whole company, taken from the customer’s point of view.”
How do your employees see their company?