Marketing Supercedes A Single Department
You want great market share and profits for your business -- who
doesn't? Have you put more pressure on your marketing department to
generate more leads for your salespeople? Do you feel like you're
continuously throwing cash at the problem? Many companies do just that
when they want to increase their performance.
There are subtler ways to increase your enterprise's standing in the
industry before you invest more capital. In my last column, "Marketing
Is More Than Just Materials," I discussed how your marketing must
be more than your product brochures. I noted that saving your customers
time, communicating clearly, taking responsibility, having an attitude of
gratitude, and keeping your word were winning tenets to follow in
business. These principles generally referred to internal employee
Well, here is Phase II: Marketing supercedes a single department.
Instead, it is about public interaction and perception based on your
corporate decisions and operations. Marketing has to be more than the
responsibility given to one person (or many) -- much more. Marketing
depends on the interdependence of all your departments.
Today, I want you to think about how marketing is the responsibility of
each department in your company. These may include executive management,
sales, marketing, human resources, public relations, technical support,
accounting, and even shipping and receiving. If you're a smaller
enterprise, consider your personal actions.
I start here because this is where most of us start with any company. How
many rings does a caller sit through before you answer? This says loud and
clear how much a customer calls mean to you. How is your voice mail set
up? Can I zero out to an operator at any time? This may sound standard,
but even in our industry many fail at this initial contact point.
Often, I ask the receptionist some general questions about the company
I'm calling, and he or she knows little about their employer. Outside of
temporary staff, this should not happen. Every employee should have your
company's unique market positioning statement and at least your general
mission statement down cold. This is just one way to make a client feel
they are working with competent professionals.
The people selected to run your company broadcast the attitude of your
company. They communicate an unspoken message in the mood of their public
speeches, in their strategic plans, and the internal policies they create
(since these policies never stay internal).
Executive management brings with them reputations and a public
perception from their former employment and exploits. Are they known as
turn-around experts, empire builders through acquisitions, or conglomerate
administrators? Let's say the new CEO is known as a turn-around expert.
The market might then think your company is having some difficulty they
hadn't heard about.
The strategies management presents to the industry via media and
investor relations and marketing campaigns reveals their attitude towards
customers, distributors, resellers, and the industry itself. Are you a
leader with vision, or just a manufacturer?
Product development is the perfect place for continual marketing. How
responsive to customer demands and complaints are you? How many times do
customers have to call or e-mail before they feel someone has taken
ownership of their software development problem?
When you are designing a DSL communication solution, how are your
customers involved before testing trials? Companies often design the
mousetrap and then ask customers how it can be improved. It may be your
customers don't even have mice in the first place. The funny thing is they
will still tell you how to improve the mousetrap -- just to help you.
You'll spend more energy and money to eventually find a small market with
little profitability or growth.
Sales are the numeric indicator of quality products and good
marketing. Each sale is an opportunity to sell more and more often.
Salespeople have been labeled as hunters, focused on acquiring new
clients; or as farmers, focused on cultivating existing business. Make
sure you have a balance of each type and that they work, communicate, and
collect commissions together.
In our communications industry, the biggest problem with sales still
tends to be the heavy use of jargon and acronyms. This can make customers
feel confused and uninformed, and leads to frustration and a longer sales
cycle. Use your explanation of jargon as a marketing opportunity to be
consultative without being condescending. This policy will reflect back on
your company as one that is respectful and cognizant of your customers'
ability to understand your technology in addition to its true business
The marketing department fails when it keeps information and
strategies to itself. The traditional "fraternity-like"
competition between sales and marketing is destructive and unproductive --
try to eliminate this competition in your company.
The marketing department is responsible for others' attitudes towards
it -- for example, the common feeling that "marketing just spends
money and is not accountable like other departments." Your marketing
team may feel the need to protect their jobs by maintaining
self-importance. If marketing keeps their expertise to themselves by not
training the entire company on how to better market themselves, the bottom
line will suffer.
Placing an ad in the paper, a magazine, or on the Internet is a beautiful
way to gently educate people about your company. Haven't you read the
recruiting ads, even when you weren't looking for a new job? Think about
the way you feel about the company that is advertising for C++ developers,
or the one that offers assistance with continuing education. You do
develop a perception of each company based on even the tiniest classified.
How does your company contribute to the industry as a whole? Do you sit on
any standards boards or industry associations? Do you provide education
through white papers, or "tips and tricks" articles to the
These are all ways to market your company for little -- or even no --
money. With the growth of the Internet, there is an even larger demand for
content. Make it some of your expertise that helps a potential customer
understand what a CompactCPI chassis does.
Tech support is an area where you can lock in your clients for life. You
should train your customer service reps with the intent of marketing new
products and services. I want to stress that this should be a proactive
process not a passive one. Customer service representatives do sell
product well when approaching the client with great consultative sales and
marketing tactics. Did your software development kits work the first time
out? Did they ship on time?
The accounting department is a wonderful partner to the marketing
department. When you send out an invoice or statement, it is a marketing
moment. You and your customer are both confirming your relationship with
the transaction of money.
As the seller, you remind customers of the benefits they are receiving
with their investment. The simplest example of this occurs on my long
distance bill when the company tells me how much I have saved since
signing up with them. I may switch providers (which I have done several
times), but I always seem to return to this company. Why? They are
the only ones who focus on what I save and not what I pay.
Shipping And Receiving
What does shipping and receiving have to do with marketing? The way
you handle your own product is a direct representation of the way you
value your own technology. Are the boxes sturdy and protective? Does your
company's attention to detail extend to the labels being placed straight
on your packaging? Treat your product like the Crown Jewels and customers
will feel like they are getting the equivalent, only at a better price.
Superceding A Single Department
All of the different functions within your business present opportunities
to market your company on a continual basis. You can do this without
increasing your costs or needing more resources, such as people and time.
Each time you have a customer interaction, you must communicate the
benefits of dealing with your company, in addition to the wonders of your
specific technology. You communicate this indirectly with the actions,
helpfulness, and efficiency of each department in your company.
Each department communicates with your prospects and your existing
clients regularly. They influence customers to buy more, buy more often,
and to remain loyal customers. Every department is a marketing department.
Martin Wales is the eFounder and Chief Catcher at Customer
He welcomes your e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He is a technology-marketing specialist, speaker, and facilitator focused
on maximum results with minimal risk using your existing resources.