Everyday Marketing Tips
By Mark Kakkuri
You’ve heard the axiom: Everybody’s in sales. It’s true. Every person in an organization selling any kind of product or service has opportunity — even if only informally — to represent the organization, effectively serving as a kind of salesperson. It doesn’t matter if “sales” is a part of that person’s official title or even their job description. Each employee’s deportment can affect a consumer’s decision to consider or purchase a product or service from an organization.
Similarly, everybody’s in marketing. Now more than ever, every person in an organization selling any kind of product or service has an opportunity not only to represent the organization but also to actively promote what it sells. To be sure, we’re considering a gray and fuzzy line between sales and marketing. In other words, lots of overlap exists between the two. But marketing here includes not just the passive representation of an organization or even the simple distribution of information but also the active promotion of its products or services. With just the proliferation of social media, any organization with employees can put them to “work” in marketing by providing some simple coaching and guidelines. And then they can turn employees into brand champions.
Social Media Marketing
Sometimes organizations ask employees not to post anything on social media related to the organization’s sales or marketing (or anything). While an understandable course of action for some circumstances, it potentially eliminates several opportunities for sales and marketing. For those organizations willing to endure a little risk in having employees use their social media accounts for some informal sales and marketing efforts, the investment really is minimal and the reward can be substantial.
First, not only allow or encourage your employees to use their social media accounts but also provide them with the right tools to make it easy for them and worthwhile for the organization. Create some ready-to-go graphics (e.g., product images, infographics) and verbiage employees can drop into their social media feeds. In other words don’t encourage to post something on behalf of the company without providing something to post. Even if you don’t provide them with material to post on their social media feeds, let them know when the organization does and then ask employees to share it on theirs.
Second, don’t be afraid of potentially negative feedback on social media. It’s never enjoyable to deal with a discouraging word, so consider this: Either the negative comment is true or it’s not. If it is true, then you can respond professionally: Own up to it, and provide a plan for making it right. If it isn’t, then you should still respond professionally, declare it’s not true and offer to engage, if needed, in further communication by phone. In either case, you might learn about what needs to be improved about your product or service or you’ll learn how the organization or its products or services are perceived in the marketplace.
Third, keep social media in perspective. Though it may seem ubiquitous, in all likelihood there are many customers out there who are not active users of it and therefore unaffected. Moreover, social media generally has a short shelf life. A steady stream of positive social media posts, in the long term, tends to win over isolated instances of negativity.
Employees As Brand Champions
Beyond social media, employees can become brand champions or proponents and therefore valuable assets to the sales and marketing effort. This occurs primarily through active and regular communication with your employees about the organization’s mission, vision, values, goals and more. This means company leaders take time to carefully articulate what the company is all about — not just what product or service is sold there but why — and make sure employees understand as much as possible about the company’s plans for the immediate calendar year, how it will address marketplace challenges and more. Then, company leaders should stop talking and listen to their employees’ thoughts and ideas about the organization. Simply, the point is to spread ownership of the organization or enterprise as wide as possible, making employees sense their importance to its success.
Brand championing also occurs through the passive communication available through even simple things like providing employees with branded goods — clothing items, beverage holders, pens, notebooks or other tools and more. Yes, even these “trinkets and trash” (the branded items we all like to snag from conferences and seminars) have a place in this effort. Just remember to purchase decent, useful items. On your first distribution of these, create gift bags and pass them out at an organization meeting where you’re discussing vision and goals and such. Give employees two of everything — one for them, one for a significant other or for a potential customer they need to find.
Social media and branding are just two ways of increasing sales and marketing. Really clever organizations will max these techniques out and customize them to the organization’s specific needs, even combining them and phasing out their use over time. The key is to get as many in the organization as involved as possible, not merely to capitalize on each employee’s potential network but to increase each employee’s ownership of the company’s success.
SIDEBAR: A LINKEDIN PROJECT
Here’s a simple way to get your organization’s employees more actively engaged in sales and marketing. Encourage them to sign up for LinkedIn and help them populate their profile and make connections in and out of the organization. Create a LinkedIn company page and begin sharing positive company information in the LinkedIn feed. Ask employees to share the company feed in their own.
LinkedIn offers some basic analytics so you can see how a post does over a prolonged period. Track the number of followers the company has over time — as well as how many likes or shares a particular post achieves. For employees who actively participate or hit a reasonable threshold of social media activity, reward them with a nice piece of branded gear or clothing (and mention this in a company LinkedIn post). You’ll promote the company by promoting your employees, and they’ll help get work to others who have never otherwise thought of your organization. This increases awareness, which has the potential to increase leads, build a brand and so on.
Mark Kakkuri is FMG Publications’ Online Editor and an independent marketing consultant. You can connect with him on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/markkakkuri.