January 15th 2013
New Year’s resolutions mean change. We love to make change at the start of a year –makes us all feel that we are moving forward and that this year will be the bigger, better year.
But put the words ‘internal’, ‘culture’ or ‘brand’ in front of change and staff in any organisation get very jittery – or just bored.
After all, change in marketing or communications has become big business and a big process with lots of well-paid, well-spoken and persuasive change consultants. And these helpful people often tell organisations that ‘change’ involves a complete overhaul.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. No, we at Marketecture say it can be simpler. And it’s mostly a matter of putting the human element back into why there is a need for change.
Take a very current problem: generating sales leads. Are your sales leads dropping? Are you feeling the recession pinch? Are you wondering where the pipeline has gone?
At a board meeting I can imagine the discussions ranging from ‘Our people just don’t cut it – we need a better culture’ to ‘We need to change our look – our brand just isn’t competing anymore’.
But it could be simpler.
Could it be a case of not having training that helps your sales team really communicate with clients or not having done anything that builds a strong feeling of team work in often remote workers?
Or could it be a case of not having actually done any marketing for a long time and now seeing the drop off in brand recognition? Today’s world doesn’t just rely on the same clients coming back – you need to both nurture existing clients in a proactive way to get them to stay with you and refer you AND at the same time show a compelling story about why you provide just what people need in your market. You can’t just sit on your laurels.
In fact, one of the biggest issues both internally and externally that often leads to the fatal discussion at senior management level about a need for change is a lack of thinking about ongoing marketing and communications and building a dialogue – not just a campaign.
Internally, messages are often via the most dull channels and are more about procedure and ‘do this/do that’ type messages than building community. Or you have the ‘fun factor’ in newsletters and stories that try to create the ‘team’ feel by focussing on ‘quirky’ stuff you may not know about staff members. What about not just sending out messages, but giving people access to tools that enable them to connect with each other? There is a lot of technology that supports a real organisational dialogue – led by teams not by communications people. And you don’t have to go hi-tech. An oldie but goodie I have used is SharePoint. While it can be pretty basic, it gives your teams the ability to talk to each other and lets them take charge of building communication and shows that even with restrictions on what you can do IT-wise, you can do more than just set up an intranet full of information.
And externally there are two key areas organisations can fall down on.
The first is doing the same marketing every year and then wondering why giving your sales team a pile of glossy sales brochures is not working as well as you hoped.
While you do need collateral of some sort – those handouts at events do often lead to sales – today’s market needs a more innovative approach and it’s about building a full picture of your organisation’s personality not just its products. For example, talking about what makes you tick or your organisation’s view on an issue that is really topical provides people with more insight and content that they WANT. Not feeling sold to and not feeling you don’t really get the market. For more on this I would really recommend getting a copy of our Content Marketing Cookbook by visiting http://www.marketingmagazine.co.uk/bulletin/dailynews/article/1165786/?DCMP=EMC-CONBreakingnewsfromMarketing
The second issue is taking your existing clients for granted. You may have a dynamic marketing plan focussed on new sales growth but do you have a problem with retention? Are you guilty of signing people up then letting them get on with it? Do you really think your monthly e-newsletter cuts the mustard?
What you may be missing is the messages around what you are doing differently – your innovations, your changes in product, your insights. Basically treating them like part of the family – not just a revenue stream.
With existing clients you need to remember that they refer – and referrals mean so much more than a cold call not matter how good the marketing is.
So don’t just change. It may be a new year but thinking more strategically than ‘resolutiony’ may save you a lot of money and sanity!