Don MacNeil is the former Marketing Director of Windsor Jewelers and long-time on-air radio professional.
Is it just me, or…
The Marketing Standing Next To You
If you accept the definition of marketing as being the projection of your brand upon the public, then surely your staffers – at least those who meet your customers – fit under this umbrella. We seldom think of it that way, but it’s true. Yet, from company to company, recognition of this varies wildly.
At Disney, it’s simply everything. Staffers are referred to as “Cast Members” in recognition of the reality that business – but especially their business – is essentially show business. And yes, to only a slightly lesser degree, that includes you and what you do.
In our shopping forays each day, we fairly quickly pick up on who’s been schooled in the importance of customer interaction and who hasn’t. Positive behavior – or the lack of it – is typically traceable to whoever’s in charge. If that’s you, are you personally instructing the new hires, or leaving it to staffers? As fine staff as you may boast, they’re never going to stress the nuances of customer service that you will. In their hands lie your reputation, every working minute of every day.
But let’s take this a step further. We all understand what it is to be told how to act on the job, but isn’t it true that to actually carry out those behaviors we have to feel a confirming vibe from the boss? Don’t we have to see you behaving that way too?
A recent article in Inc. magazine brought this into focus in the form of a confession by an ice cream shop owner. When what he described as his most disagreeable customer had one of his staffers in tears over some minor issue he finally interceded, offering the customer a series of make-goods as remedies, and when the customer rejected all of them, he quietly asked that the complainer never shop there again. But far more important than his taking a stand, was his coming to the defense of his staffer, something he admitted to shrinking from in the past.
The takeaway? Lead from in front. Be seen by your employees to be in the trenches with them, and more importantly, supportive of them. Staffers who witness this will run through walls for you and keep in the forefront of their minds the behaviors you’ve requested.
From our earliest years, we learn to take cues from those we deem to be in charge, beginning with our parents. We become, in a real way, reflections of them. This remains true even into our working years. Your staffers are watching to see what is important to you and what isn’t – they prioritize their efforts accordingly.
Close to home, this plays out in the form of my heating & air company of choice, which each spring relentlessly tries to sell me something or charge me for this or that at every opportunity. Yet their bedside manner through all of this remains at best, detached. Each year I have to once again walk them through who I am instead of being greeted warmly. It matters. It explains why each year I vow to replace them, but never seem to.
I offer this simply as a cautionary tale. If revenue intake is your all-consuming priority, then your people are going to reflect that to the exclusion of what is equally important. Truth is, at least half of your company’s marketing happens every time one of your people meets the public. That vibe, for better or worse, is yours.