When consulting with small to mid-sized business owners on their design and marketing communications strategies, they often worry about what their marketing collateral should look like, it’s colors, design elements, how it should be sent and to whom. These business owners, often entrepreneurs with no business experience, can almost always see the big picture of where they would like to be, but all too often miss the details on how to get to their destination. They fail to see that marketing communications is not just about what you marketing collateral looks like or what your distribution channels should be, but how you communicate internally, outward with your employees and customers.
What I mean is that before these business owners can begin to operate their business, they need to learn to crawl. Taking a look at how their internal operations work and making sure that their internal communications among their vendors, employees and customers are established and communicated, then they can begin to develop external marketing strategies and objectives. All too often, business owners want to fly without their internal engines roaring. They overlook what they may think as trivial, but is rather vital to business success.
I have worked and consulted for many companies in the past and as a result, I have developed a sweet, short list of six tips to success when it comes to marketing communications from the inside, out.
Attitude is everything. If you have a negative attitude, you will create a negative working environment for both your employees and your customers/clients. The opposite holds true for those who have a positive attitude, you more than likely foster a positive and productive working environment. How does attitude directly translate into your marketing communications objectives or plan?
Bosses and businesses with a negative working culture tend to have poor employee-customer relationships. Personal leave time and sick time are rampant amongst companies who promote negativity. Employees become apathetic and that attitude spills outward toward customers who in turn see the employee not as a person, but a representative of your company.
As a business owner or manager, embracing a positive attitude and promoting a positive work culture sends a message to your employees and customers that you are a company that cares. People want to do business with companies that care about their needs. With a lot of business competition in the marketplace across industries theses days, you can not afford to lose customers or qualified employees.
In my library of books, there are two books on attitude that I hold in high regards, Attitude 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know by John C. Maxwell , and Attitude Is Everything: Change Your Attitude… Change Your Life! by Jeff Keller. Both books are easy to read and excellent sources for any business owner and employee who wants to change their attitude for the better.
I once worked for an advertising agency as their marketing communications designer. I basically developed all of their marketing collateral while our design teams worked on client projects. I can remember walking past the owners office, where I heard him saying to his human resources manager that his employees where a necessary evil. He didn’t seem to flinch or care that I heard his derogatory comment toward me and the rest of his 100 plus employees. This owner was one who truly saw his employes who have earned him millions as a necessary evil. He was an employer who didn’t celebrate his employees strengths and as a result his company had a high turnover rate as well as a few employees who left to start their own company and directly competed with him, ultimately hurting his bottom line.
Taking care of your employees, finding their strengths and celebrating them helps foster not only a positive environment (see my first point above on attitude) but employees who become a fan of your business. And we know what a fan is short for, “fanatic”. Happy employees who believe that their bosses and companies look after them and treat them with respect will both intentionally and unintentionally boast about their company and it’s products or services.
Your vendors should not be treated any differently than any other individual you deal with on a daily basis. Your vendors are in a unique position to provide you with business or referrals. If you are treating your vendors right, with respect and building a solid relationship with them, then chances are you are building trust and rapport with your vendors. In turn, your vendors will become somewhat of a silent sales force for you, making referrals to your business. After all, there is an unspoken rule between vendor and their customers, if your business does well, then chances are you will continue to buy from them.
However, the opposite holds true, if you treat your vendors with contempt or beat them down, don’t pay them on time, chances are they will not recommend your business. They may not say anything negative about you, but they most diffidently will refuse to suggest your product or service if someone asks them for a referral.
This is the honest truth, I know of two business owners, there are perhaps a heck of a lot more, who do not value their customers. They are constantly cussing them out, calling them names and have a general negative disposition toward their customers. They even refer to them, not by their names but by expletives, behind their backs of course. These business owners actually get excited when they can “screw” their customers out of extra money for services and products rendered. Needless to say, one of these owners has seen a dramatic loss in clients while the other has had to move his manufacturing business to a building one quarter of the size due to an attrition of business. And let me tell you, the economy is not to blame for the loss of business or downsizing. It’s sheer stupidity and lack of judgement.
If you take care of your customers, they will reward you by making referrals as well as continued business. It costs more to acquire a new customer then it does to maintain your current ones. One way to remember that your customers are important and should be treated with respect is that your customers pay your paychecks. That’s right, they pay you, the business owner and your employees, so wouldn’t it make sense to take care of your money source not only to keep what you have, but grow it through referrals. That is of course, you don’t like money. If you have a difficult time remembering who pays your paycheck, you can always print the words, “Paid With Employee Money” on your paychecks to serve as a reminder who takes care of you.
Your office space and interior cleanliness matter. Not only to your customers, but to your employees. I’m not saying that you need to run out and buy expensive furniture, like cherry wood desks, but what I am saying is that your work environment is important not only to the visiting public, but to your employees.
Your customers will perceive you based on how your building looks, both inside and out. That means, keep it clean. Keep it orderly, with papers, books, etc. placed in organized areas on desks and counter spaces. A clean work environment communicates to your customers that you care, your tidy, and that you are organized. Keep a messy or dirty office, and see how many customers want to come and due business with you.
The same feelings you communicate to your customer by keeping a clean and tidy office is the same ones your employees will receive as well. Set expectations for your employees about how the work environment should look, stick to those expectations, and you will see results. If you keep a messy and unorganized work environment, you will get lazy and unproductive employees who can convey a feeling of not caring to both you, the employer, and your customers.
Asking for feedback will help you navigate your business in the correct direction. It will help you address any issues that your employees or your customers have and give you an opportunity to make adjustments in your customer service policy or employee policy. Marketing Communications should not just be outbound communication. Allow your employees to provide feedback on how they are treated, how they see the company operating and what they would do to improve services and internal communication. As for customers, you may want to ask some of the following questions:
1. How where you treated by one of our customer service representatives?
2. How can we improve our service/product?
3. Did we respond to your requests in a timely manner?
4. Was our staff courteous, helpful, and friendly?
5. Was are waiting area/bathrooms clean?
6. What additional feedback can you provide us regarding our company, service, directions, written material, etc.?
The above are just a few examples of questions you can ask. When giving a survey, it’s always best to use a third party to conduct the survey so that you do not appear biased. However, many companies have conducted surveys on their own with great success. You can do this, anonymously through your website or via a direct mail piece with paid return postage.
In the end, Marketing Communications is not just the responsibility of the Marketing Director or business owner, but everyone in the institutions job, from the top down to the janitor. Spear heading your organization with a positive, “can do” attitude will help create a positive environment where your employees will reciprocate to customers and clients.
The appearance of your business from the inside out does matter when it comes to generating customer perception and helping employees feel positive about their employment. One way to check for feedback from customers and employees is to conduct a survey. Doing so will help correct an internal, potential problems as well as help strengthen customer relations.
Remember, Marketing is not a department, it’s everyone’s responsibility.
About the author:
Christopher D Childs works as a review writer for Resume Writer Reviews. It gives him an opportunity to improve his critical and creative thinking skills. Moreover, he keeps up with modern tendencies of employee engagement, motivation and management.
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