I was recently hanging out with my friends when one of them ordered for a Coke. The waiter brought one that was at “room temperature” and one of our friends who works for the beverage company was up in arms demanding that “a Coke should always be served chilled” whether that is true or not is subject to debate but it brought out a staff member who was armed with information and a passionate brand ambassador.
Jay Baer in his book Youtility notes that the single greatest marketing engine that most businesses aren’t leveraging is their employees.
Today we have marketers executing well-crafted plans targeted at the “outside customer” with almost no regard for the internal customer working day in, day out to churn out the product or service being marketed.
So big is this gap that in some companies you have staff who don’t own any branded company merchandise because the people in marketing will not have anyone other than “the customer” lay hands on those coveted goodies. This model of focussing on external messaging leaves the staff disconnected, causes loss of internal support and in some cases even fuels the notion that “All that marketing people do is spend”.
When staff are not made part of the overall marketing plan the company loses out on a key community.
While the task of staff engagement has been largely a HR function we are now seeing more and more organizations moving this role towards marketing. The obvious reason being that employee engagement is aimed at driving the passion and advocacy level among staff as one would do with external customers and marketers are best placed to do this.
So why should a marketing plan involve a well-thought out staff engagement strategy? Here are three reasons.
While most marketing budgets cater for promoters, engaged staff make great brand ambassadors since they are involved in churning out the product or service every day. Staff advocacy is therefore a very important part of the sales and business strategy. Engaged staff are more passionate because they see how their individual efforts fit into the bigger picture. They offer better customer care, better support and in some instances even pay suppliers faster!
Staff members armed with the right content at the right time can be very good amplifiers of the marketing message. The agency can’t be the only mouth piece for the organization in this social media age. Staff should be freed up and encouraged to share exclusive content on the company they work for. However for this to happen properly and deliver the desired result they should be trained, prepared and encouraged to participate.
Staff should not be left on the bench of silo workings but should be systematically mobilized towards playing in the field of brand advocacy. There should be a platform where they can go and access ammunition to be used in promoting the brand or answering customer queries in their circles. Keep your staff members engaged and you have yourself great amplifiers of your message.
While there is a space for external feedback mechanisms largely due to the fact that it’s external, some of the best feedback on a campaign or product could come from staff. The new product launch doesn’t always have to be a secret. An activation campaign should always be conducted among staff to ensure they interact and have a say on what they think about it. Marketers have been known to launch a new product that flopped because of a feature that could have been easily picked out by colleagues in the office had they been kept in the loop. s
Market growth is numbers game and any cent counts. In certain organizations staff will be found using competitor products and one of the drivers for little loyalty and negligible brand attachment among staff is the lack of engagement in the marketing process. Organizations should ensure they market and sell to their staff (where they qualify as target market) before venturing out. Charity begins at home. Marketing plans should have a section and budget devoted to staff activations preferably at the very start of any campaign. Effort should be made to win the staff first as customers before reaching out.
“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” – Doug Conant