“Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”Steve Jobs, co-founder and former Apple CEO
As a marketing enthusiast, I’ve often encountered myself in a particularly passionate debate with my peers over an intriguing topic: marketing being, within an organization, a department’s role. It is often believed that it’s solely marketers’ job to attract customers, spread messages, lead new campaigns, generate leads, manage social media, generate engagement, and build customer loyalty. However, believing so dangerously hinders an organization’s marketing’s potential and capacity.
The fact of the matter is that marketing encompasses a way broader spectrum. Marketing is too big of a role to be left to the marketers of an organization to deal with. Everyone in the organization should get onboard with an organization’s marketing team.
Imagine going on a hike with a group of friends to a beautiful place filled with magnificent landscapes and intriguing animals. Let’s say only one of you took a camera – no one else thought about taking pictures. Imagine all these exotic animals passing by and the exquisite landscapes everyone is eager to capture. Yet, only one of you can. Not only will the one friend holding the camera be the only one able to capture such moments, but will also have to be the one distributing the pictures to the rest of the group. The group’s ability to capture memories will not only be limited, but will also be dependent upon one person’s photographic abilities.
The same happens when it comes to marketing within an organization. Marketing should be a collective task. The reality is, every single person working in the organization says something about the organization. And vice versa. Just as the employees are an integral part of an organization, the organization should be an essential part of each employee. Each one should say something about the other. As a result, marketing becomes an integrated and holistic role that every single employee shares the responsibility to play. Just as with the camera in the hiking trip example, there will be much greater potential and way more opportunities to capture when everyone becomes involved.
Therefore, an organization’s capacity to accomplish its objectives and sustain financial performance will be further intensified when its employees understand the role each of them play in attracting, delighting, and retaining customers. For instance, the way employees interact with one another, says something about an organization. Similarly, the way customers are greeted, says something about an organization. The way stakeholders are treated, says something about an organization. The work environment and organizational culture, as well, should say something about an organization. Everything a company does and says, should say something about the values an organization holds dearest – the values an organization are guided by.
The most fascinating part of all these is that, nothing goes neither unseen nor unperceived in our modern and globalized world. The media will make sure of it. Newspapers, magazines, social media, and the press will help the public know either the good or the bad things going on within an organization. Such news will inevitably land in the eyes and ears of consumers – leaving companies vulnerable to consumer sentiment towards their brand and organization. As a result, marketing’s holistic role grows even further. Attracting, delighting, and retaining customers, then, becomes an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ responsibility.
What customers hear and see about an organization will invariably define either their support or disgust towards an organization. And customers’ power and decision, shouldn’t be underestimated. Through their consumption decision, customers hold great power. Moreover, companies should be wary of the fact that today it’s easier than ever to voice one’s opinion – through the diverse number of digital platforms available. Glassdoor, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social platforms make it easier than ever to both customers and employees to voice their thoughts and opinions towards organizations.
Such factor should empower organizations to instill within their work environment a values-driven culture where employees feel valued. Coming to work, rather than being a task to perform, should become a responsibility to feel proud of – one where meaning and purpose can be derived from. Organizations facilitating such environments will, ultimately, make great marketers of their employees who will speak wonders of their organization and will work hard towards making the organization proud.
Marketing is, and will always be, holistic. Marketers unconsciously know it. Customers, on the other hand, know it perfectly. The best part of all these is that, great achievements can be obtained when everyone in an organization is steering towards the same direction. Happy employees mean happy customers. Happy customers and happy employees mean positive press and media. Positive press and media mean free advertising – as they will share the good things about an organization with the public. Happy customers, employees, press, and media will lead to increase in sales, market share, stock valuation, and potential for expansion. Understanding marketing’s bigger picture is a win-win for any organization.
Yet, to get such enlightening and profitable cycle started, the question remains: How do you keep your employees happy? The answer might sound simple, yet it’s deeply profound. The best way to keep your employees happy – which will lead to happy customers, positive press, and free advertising – is to direct what marketing does best inside rather than outside an organization. Outside marketing efforts include – as defined by marketing’s job description – performing efforts to spread campaigns, customer interaction and engagement, sales, and build loyalty towards a brand. Through outside efforts marketing will conduct ads in Google, Facebook, and other digital platforms and make sure their digital platforms are SEO friendly. Only marketing can do that. And they might excel at it. Marketing will do everything in its power to delight customers. But what about efforts to keep their internal customers – an organization’s employees – happy?
Remember, the cycle starts with the employees. Therefore, disregard those beliefs that state that the customer always comes first. It’s the employees who always comes first. There are a variety of ways in which organizations can delight employees, and they shouldn’t be just about offering competitive salaries. While money will always be a factor, winning over employees is not about conquering their minds, it’s about winning their hearts. You win employees’ heart through career progression and development plans, formal training sessions, offering a collaborative and participative work culture, making them part of important decisions, different kinds of benefits, flexible work schedules, the option to work from home, and – most importantly – through recognition.
By far, recognition is the most powerful form of inspiration and motivation an employee can achieve. Imagine what would happen if a basketball coach ignored his top performing player in the team? Since his coach ignores him, his teammates will do the same. Yet, he is earning the biggest salary in the team. Would the top performing player feel happy? Would he feel valued? Will he be likely to stay in the team? He will probably ask his agent to look for new opportunities in other teams – which, given his talent and reputation, will be plenty of. The same happens in business with top performing employees.
Recognitions such as “Employee of the Month” awards go a long way. Unlike money, such recognitions appeal to employees’ heart. Organizations should awaken such emotions within employees to capitalize upon its benefits – higher productivity and creativity levels, team morale, and employee retention rates. Yet, such recognitions should be given strategically – they should be awarded with the audience the employee values the most. For some, it might be family – a paid family vacation to the beach or skiing would mean the world to him/her. For others, it might be his/her boss – a personal note from his/her boss and a photo with him/her winning the award would spark the deepest emotions. Others might enjoy personal notes and compliments from customers. Organizations should capture these amazing opportunity to win over its employees.
Marketing encompasses all aspects and areas of an organization – both inside and outside of it. The better organizations understand it, the better their performance will be.