Showing posts with label internal marketing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label internal marketing. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Marketing: The Common Thread of Every Business Tapestry

From Advertising & Business Development through Sales & Customer Service, Marketing plays a huge part of business growth. It is an integrative thread woven in and out of the overall business model. It links together information that can be reviewed, assessed, and evaluated to determine future growth strategies.

Marketing is as much about the individual as it is about the collective whole. It touches every staff person, subcontractor, vendor / supplier, and customer. The public perception of your business is defined by the interactive color tapestry that bleeds bright with each momentous achievement and can fade just as easily with each misstep.

Every threaded needle starts somewhere. For Marketing, it all begins with ownership and executive leadership. An owner is responsible for the size & scope of the tapestry and the breadth of colors that a business projects. Even the smallest business can shine as bright as a corporation when a leader weaves a design people like.

The next interwoven piece is Internal Marketing. Internal Marketing essentially is the process of marketing a business' mission and vision to all of its employees in order to improve morale, core competencies, and, ultimately, customer relations. This involves everyone, from office administration through sales & service personnel. The mantra of effective Internal Marketing is: support the staff that supports the business and business will grow.

Finally, the Marketing thread weaves it's internal formulated pattern through the various arms of your Business Model that touch each customer, business relation, and the general public. These might include:
  • Business Development
  • Advertising
  • Public Relations / Publicity
  • Sales
  • Customer Service
Each of these business components can change the overall business tapestry. When one or more is stained or frayed, changes will be needed. Since Marketing is the common thread of business, you can change the color or direction of the tapestry by taking away what works and what doesn't. The marketing thread is responsible for breathing life, adding color, and changing the direction of how every business grows.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Connecting Across the Social Media Universe

A majority of the people I work with are small business owners. One of the most common concerns I hear about revolves around how to manage all of their social media marketing efforts in the most time efficient manner.  

My response typically involves explaining the difference between Social Media Marketing and Social Media networking. Both involve relationship building, and both are crucial to business success. However, Social Media Marketing is about helping the business as a whole grow, whereas Social Media networking is more about helping the individual grow.  

Focusing on Social Media networking is a great place for small business owners to start. It sets the stage for personal growth, but it can also lead to establishing the individual as a thought leader. So how does an individual make the most of Social Media networking? 

Be Accessible

Recently, I communicated with a friend of a friend through facebook messaging. She is applying for a position that requires knowledge of social media marketing, and she wanted to know if I had suggestions in how to show the employer that she possesses solid Marketing acumen. I looked for her Linkedin profile and couldn't find her. I then asked if she could forward me the link for her Linkedin profile; she never responded. Additionally, I sent a facebook connect request. She told me that she didn't like to connect with people she didn't know online.

The first step of effective Social Media networking is being accessible. Employers, customers, professional acquaintances - anyone and everyone should be able to see your personal and professional profiles across social media platforms. As a small business owner, you are your business' first and best marketing resource. Chris Brogan & Julien Smith refer to this concept in their collaborative book and now coined phrase, "Trust Agents". Other terms exist as well including "thought leader" and "expert", but what is most important is that this is how others perceive you and not how you should refer to yourself.

Participate

Years ago, when I first became actively involved in construction, I started noticing CSI and other initials behind various people's names. As it turned out, being a CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) member was held in high regard by construction industry professionals. Moreover, other certifications one could get through CSI were held in even higher regard because they demonstrated a person's knowledge of the construction industry and a thorough understanding of the construction documents.

I also started seeing that people (including an ex-employer) were paying dues to be able to use the initials but then never participating. Yeah, sure, they might show up at an event or two throughout the year, but they would never volunteer to be on committees or boards.

Social Media, like industry specific groups, isn't just about connections; it's about how you engage with other social media participants. With social media, the old adage, "if you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem" holds true. If you only have social media profiles because everyone does, then you're only creating online clutter. Why would anyone want to connect with someone who only wants to friend, circle, or follow other people to build up their contact list but then not engage on any level?

There are various ways to actively participate online: posting questions and articles that you think others might glean knowledge from, joining groups and giving insightful perspectives, writing white papers / technical papers for your industry and sharing them, and blogging are all great ways to stay engaged and involved. 

Building Relationships

Whenever I connect or am asked to connect with a person on one social media platform, I always cross reference their name across other platforms. There are several reasons to cross reference, not the least of which is determining if they are spammers or a real person or business entity. I also do it to see how innovative they are. Lately, my measurement tool has been Google+, the largest, newest social media platform. If a person is on facebook but not Google+ and they claim to be a progressive thinker, I have to wonder if they're being truthful.

Not all social media platforms function the same way or serve the participants in the same ways, but all of them can be used to build meaningful relationships. Additionally, there's no reason you can't have business messages on facebook and playful banter on Linkedin. And now, with smartphones and tablets, there's definitely no reason that concise communications can't be achieved through instant messaging on social media platforms as opposed to, say, emails.

Connecting across the social media universe is a rewarding and life-enriching experience.  It has become just as important as networking face-to-face; not more important, just another great step to successful relationships. Whether you're a student looking to learn from a business professional in your field of study, a product representative looking to connect with an architect across the country, or a follower of a blog from someone on the other side of the world, online connections set new bearings for relationships.  

Friday, September 28, 2012

Opening Doors in Marketing

There are so many doors I have opened in my life and my career. Remarkably, the one that changed my business perspective the most was being a window and door salesperson for commercial buildings. That experience opened my eyes to sales & marketing in ways that I still think about today.
You can have a building with expansive walls of glass, walls with only a few punched openings, or even (on rare occasion) no windows. However you can never have a building without doors.  Doors can serve multiple purposes, but like good marketing, each door represents a gateway of opportunities. On one side of the door, there is a business that is ready to work with and serve the world outside, and on the other side is a world of possibilities.
Opening doors in marketing means going beyond just opening doors for business - that's the easy part.  As a successful product representative, I learned two main strategies. First, that Sales & Marketing are unconditionally intertwined. Second, I learned that there is always a door to open if you know where to look. And, man, oh man, are there all sorts of doors to fit any given marketing situation.

Doors for Prospecting
Salespeople are typically the first face a prospect sees outside of direct marketing. More than cold calling or leaning on existing clients that treat you well, sales & marketing starts with networking. And, I'm not referring to the online networking.  Successful sales & marketing people join industry specific (and in some cases non-industry) organizations and groups.  
Taking it a step further, successful sales & marketing people also get involved on Boards & Committees. By doing this, customers and prospects perceive them as attentive and caring thought leaders and not someone looking to market their business' name by just showing up.

Doors for Educating
As a sales & marketing person in the construction industry, I learned the best client is the one that never pays you - the Architect / Engineer / Designer. By marketing your product and services to the key decision makers, in any industry before final plans are made, you will ensure more opportunities. This could be through online webinars, being a key note speaker at a professional event, or with a focused lunch and learn style presentation.
Doors for Rewards
Direct marketing is great, but when it involves giving a prize, well, nothing beats that. This could be done through a direct mailer scratch-and-win game piece or online with a check-in promotion from a location-based social media platform. Additionally, marketing doesn't stop after a business sells a product or service to a customer either. Effective marketing is continuous and catches the customer both immediately after their purchase and even months after.
A business can't discount Internal Marketing either. Continuous improvement programs are great, but opportunities for rewards, recognition, and advancement will help ensure marketing success.

The revolving door of marketing spins so fast that some businesses find that they're on the way out quicker than it took them to step in.  When considering marketing improvements, it seems that if a business isn't always on the cutting edge of marketing options, they're bound to be left behind. There are always new doors to open.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Internal Marketing for Prospective Employees

How often do businesses think about or utilize Internal Marketing?  If you aren't familiar with the term, it is essentially the process of marketing a business' mission and vision to its staff.  The goal is to foster positive employee morale and core competencies and, ideally, improve external customer relations through a variety of measurable methods. But how often do businesses practice marketing to prospective employees?

Businesses should want prospective employees constantly knocking on their doors

In growing a business, it is as important to market to prospective employees as it is to market internally. Taking the thought a step further, marketing to prospective employees is tantamount to marketing to prospective customers.  Businesses should want prospective employees knocking at their door every day as much as they want customers to contact them on their own.  If a business can't convince someone to want to work for them, how can they possibly hope to be perceived as the business that customers want to call on?  

The interviewer and the interviewee are interviewing each other

Have you ever been uncomfortable in an interview?  It is an "inter"view; not an employerview.  An interviewer should feel just as much in the hot seat as the interviewee.  If the interviewee has no response to questions or comments, little response, or doesn't exude a sense of excitement about working for an employer during the interview, then the interviewer has failed.

Creating a welcome and comfortable atmosphere

As valuable as it is to create a fun & friendly working environment for a business's staff and customers, it is equally important for interviewees to feel this as well.  If a business allows for casual dress and a generally happy, jovial atmosphere where employees are free to express themselves, then express this before, during, and after the interview.

Offering the right tools to do the job

No matter what position a business is hiring for, it is critical to offer the right tools to do the job.  If hiring for an internal position, a business needs to have up-to-date technologies and technological devices.  I recently talked to branch manager of a national corporation that offers IT training solutions to businesses, but doesn't arm any of their sales staff with laptops or smartphones - HELLO!

Adopting technologies to adapt to the marketplace

Like every other aspect of business and marketing, evolving technologies and a rapidly growing world are impacting every aspect of any business in any market and in any industry.  When a business struggles to adopt the newest innovations and technologies, it fails itself, its customers, and anyone that might want to work there.