“Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.” ~John C. Maxwell
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. In another word, “Marketing is Influence.”
I recently read a line: “Everything is marketing.” I thought, how true!
Marketing has even been defined as: “The whole company, taken from the customer’s point of view.”
Leading in the Marketing
I have worked for marketing companies most of my career—two powerhouses, one startup. I have executed some amazing campaigns for some amazing clients. I have learned in the process that a great deal of time and money goes into building a brand, gaining attention, and telling a story to consumers. Without this funding, no growth happens and people lose jobs.
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 influence directed to the employees?
- How are they being influenced?
- Where is the internal leadership that leads to healthy corporate sustainability?
Today’s tactic of “you’re lucky to have a job” may be one source of motivation. However, coercion that alienates employees is not the answer to winning in the marketplace. This exclusion leads to turnover, lower morale, and lower productivity.
This is not the anser; inclusion is.
Internal Marketing Leadership
Knowing that inclusion is the answer to getting the most out of people whose task it is to work together for a common goal, I decided that this was going to be my mantra.
So when I was asked to troubleshoot Customer Support at the startup company, I knew what needed to be done.
I had heard tons of complaints about the Customer Support employee’s 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. So I had a big challenge ahead of me to try to turn this wayward ship around and turn this loss center into a profit center.
The team was based in California (our headquarters were in New York.) so they were far from the everyday action. This made for a very difficult situation. It seemed everyone in New York had something negative to say about this group, but very few actually interacted with them.
But why? Looking at this objectively, one would say “Here is a team of support agents who were fun, flexible, socially active, 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. So what is the problem?”
Why didn’t they communicate effectively and play nice?
Customer Service is Marketing; it is Change; and it means Revenue.
Customer Service is where the rubber meets the road. It is truly the best advantage point of influence for a company.
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. To begin to really lead your business, supporting Customer Service is another change that has to happen if businesses want to succeed.
Unfortunately, tuned-out top leaders don’t see that customer service is change management at its finest!
They simply don’t recognize that the same elements needed for employee buy-in and great service are the same elements needed for customer buy-in and great sales.
These buy-in elements are:
Just think of all the companies you love and hate, and why. When they come to mind, I’ll bet that your customer service experience played an enormous role in making up your mind, or changing it.
Am I right?
Change Though Exchange
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 naturally, 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, We even 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 which 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. It is also the leader’s job 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?
L2L Contributing Author
Image Sources: era-az.com