All Businesses Are Marketing Businesses, and Everyone is a Marketer The path to success lies in fostering marketing as a culture
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"We've managed to grow without any real marketing."
Translation: We've managed to grow without any "traditional' marketing.
"We're trying to build an integrated marketing function."
Translation: We've figured out that marketing does not exist in a bubble. It needs to work with Product Development, Human Resources, Sales, etc.
"Our product sells itself!"
Translation: We realized that the quality of delivery and customer experience were part of our branding and marketing.
Customers no longer differentiate their experience of your product or service, their experience with your customer service, their experience at your physical or online store, or even the experience of meeting one of your employees in a neutral setting from your marketing and branding. We are now solidly in the era of engagement, and marketing is no longer a department. It's not even a function. The path to success lies in fostering marketing as a culture.
Where do we begin?
Certainly, no matter what business you're in, you're in the business of marketing yourself and your products or services. Every employee and every department in your company contributes to making your branding and marketing pervasive. Yes, they already contribute. The only question is whether their contribution is positive or negative.
Adopting a culture of marketing helps everyone understand why what you do is so remarkable, and what part they can play in advocating this to the customer. Before you can help your team understand that they aren't just helping you achieve marketing goals, but are intact marketers themselves, you might want to understand these 3 factors.
- The Product (or service) is the Marketing
Your existing customers are more valuable than new customers. That might sound simple, but it's easy to forget when we focus on growth. The experience these current customers have with your product or service dictates your growth trajectory. Instead of hoping marketing will provide you with a silver bullet, put your product front and center where it deserves to be anyway.
Leads that come through customer advocacy and referrals not only have a higher probability of closure, but also a greater velocity to closure. It's important to know which of your customers are your advocates, and what you're doing to turn the rest of them into your champions as well.
In our company, lead generation targets are owned by everyone, not just marketing. Project managers partner understand marketing targets, and partner with them to ensure customer perceptions align with branding goals. Marketing gathers feedback from users and shares it with product development. The shared goal is always to maximize the product or service experience.
2. Experience is the Marketing
Customer experience is not just your customer service. It's not just the speed at which customer queries are resolved. It spans across the customer's lifecycle. Although the responsibility of customer experience has never rested with just one department, it has largely been limited to customer service, support, and product development.
With customers growing more empowered and competition growing fierce, customer experience is now everyone's responsibility. Customers now expect a personalised, contextual interaction at any time they come in contact with your company. They expect you to really understand their problems and provide clear paths to their resolution.
Every touchpoint a customer has with our company is mapped with a focus on improving the experience constantly. From the simplification of reporting formats to the process of asking for feedback at regular intervals, every process is looked at from the customer's perspective to find areas of improvement. It's not just about measuring customer experience to get to a score. It's about constantly increasing value, which in turn impacts the bottom line.
3. The Company is Marketing
…and Everyone is a Brand Steward. When someone meets one of your employees, they form a perception not only of them but also of you. Can your people articulate your mission, your vision, and your philosophy the way you want them to? Do they paint the right picture of what you do and why you do it? You never know if the person they have met is a future customer, a future investor, or a future employee.
Every touch-point with the market is an opportunity to make or break your brand. It's not enough to try and enlist the support of your employees in carrying your brand forward. They need mentoring and coaching to understand how this brand, in turn, impacts their work, and how they can influence it positively. They need to be equipped with the tools to represent themselves and their company in the correct light.
For example, training programs in our company are aimed at educating employees about why the company exists, its mission, and why it is special. Monthly and quarterly meetings aim to help them understand what's happening in departments other than their own, and how it impacts them. Before someone can take up the mantle of brand stewardship, they need to understand what the brand promise is, and how they are a part of it.
Marketing is everyone's job now. Your product, the overall experience or dealing with the company, and the experience of integrating with anyone who works at the company, are all parts of your marketing toolkit.