“Hi, I have a customer interested in X and I want to share our POV on that. Can you tell me where I might find something?”
I get a message like this directly or see something similar posted in a chat channel, at least once a week. Hold on a moment for the deceptively simple answer.
“I saw you posted on LinkedIn yesterday about X and would love to have you talk to one of our prospects about the topic.”
Again, I get these on a regular basis, and there is a two-part answer I usually provide. Back to that shortly.
“Wow, that upcoming webinar looks interesting, is there information I can provide to some customers about it?”
Trust me, I am not picking on anyone here, as I know that every employee in our company – like most businesses – is incredibly busy. But, there is a theme running through these and similar comments that marketers see far too often. It’s a theme that cuts to the very heart of modern marketing in a digital world. That theme, rooted in the revolution that has given voice to individual customers around the globe and placed them on (near) equal footing with brands, is that marketing is no longer the proprietary domain of marketers. Marketing, at least through social channels and earned media, is now part of every employee’s job. The problem is, they either haven’t been told or haven’t been listening (or perhaps a little of both).
Teaching employees how to do marketing doesn’t necessarily mean you have to actually teach them anything about marketing. Like learning to ride a bicycle, it is often easier to do it than to understand balance, momentum, and the actual amount of damage hitting your skull on the pavement may cause. Rather, some simple rules allow a win/win situation to emerge for the marketing team and the company as a whole. Less work, better results!
The first question above usually means that an employee hasn’t embraced the company website as the first place to look for all customer-facing information. It may also mean that the marketing team hasn’t yet been able to get everything onto the website (I know it is harder than it seems). Either way, the general direction must be that employees think like customers and look at the business from the outside in, usually starting with the website. If there is a public POV on a hot topic, such as in a blog post, webinar, or idea paper, it should be readily available on the website and the URL (direct or a search string) should be easy for employees to pass on.
It’s terrific when I get asked to talk to customers about something I posted on LinkedIn or Twitter, or in any public forum. That is one of the favorite parts of my job as CMO! The missed opportunity, however, is – when the employee that asks me to do so never shares that post with their own network. I understand that some people are reluctant to do so, and some companies even have restrictive (and archaic) rules about employees sharing on social media. But in general, every employee of contemporary businesses has some social presence. This can be used as an opportunity to amplify the voice of the company. The most galling thing of all is when I see those same employees sharing content from other sources and not from their own company. Plug in and turn it up to 11!
You schedule an important webinar. It goes up on the website in the events calendar. The marketing team drops a perfectly crafted email to customers and prospects. It gets posted on LinkedIn and Twitter. Momentum is building as people register. Then someone asks for a custom email about the webinar for their special audience. You know, “can marketing make it look pretty so I can send it to these important prospects?” No. This is where employees need to realize that custom crafting content that already exists in multiple easily accessible forms is not marketing’s job and shouldn’t be anyone’s job. Instead, employees need to take the existing announcements, find the one that makes the most sense, and share that. It can be as easy as sharing a LinkedIn post or sending a quick personal email with the registration URL. Unlike your coffee at Starbucks, there are not infinite ways that marketing will craft content.
There you have it, three simple rules to help empower every employee to do a bit of good marketing and to help marketing teams leverage them effectively. If you are not seeing engagement in your employee base, ask yourself the hard questions about why and then make sure you are giving everyone the tools necessary. Hopefully, these rules will free up a little time for the marketing team to head over to Starbucks and get that grande, extra-hot, oat milk, two pumps chocolate, one pump caramel, extra shot latte they deserve.
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