After cutting the hell out of my company from 30 to 7 people it amazes me that the seven that we have are enthusiastic and excited about distinguishing themselves from their competition. They want materials and marketing programs designed at setting themselves apart - designed to create a palpable difference in what they are doing. It is refreshing to say the least.
This differs greatly from trying to motivate 30 unmotivated, uninterested, unspectacular people who really don't give a shit about anything but picking up their paycheck every two weeks.
One of the most frustrating things about being a marketing person where the marketing philosophy is disconnected from sales is that the marketing is rendered impotent. It cannot be championed because sales is championed. Marketing, culture and differentiation must be driven from the sales leadership as well as the marketing leadership for any change initiative or marketing focus to be executed correctly.
Take for example the Customer Service Pledge that I designed for my company. It was designed as a tool to help combat some of the early customer inadequacies that our customers pointed out to us. Lack of return phone calls, lack of availability at signing, etc. were all ills that I hoped to stamp out through the implementation of this pledge.
The pledge was somewhat successful but not entirely. While some agents used it as a differentiator at first; human laziness tends to set in and inertia grinds them to a stop in using the form. The pledge does no good if it is not being sent out to the potential customers. Further the pledge wasn't being effectively enforced. The sales people weren't held accountable for acts of transgression. So the pledge - while nice and warm and fuzzy failed to produce the culture it expoused because there was lack of follow up from the leadership who was supposed to implement it.
And there lies the biggest problem for the marketer. Getting the leadership that must do the front lines execution of the plan excited and passionate enough about its need to make it a priority of theirs. If their isn't a burning need perceived by the leadership marked to carry this message out and through the masses it has no chance. The marketing team must make sure that the leadership sees it as a burning issue - a strategic competitive weakness - that can be corrected to add to the bottom line before they will put their effort behind it.
It is only when tying the customer and corporate benefit together that most sales leadership see the light go on. They have a harder time understanding and appreciating the fringe benefits of such a "culture" piece.
It's also a failure on the marketing side to not reinforce the values of the pledge and the importance of the document to the company's culture. Whether sales leadership pumps it down and out to the team is somewhat irrelevant if the marketing team stays on task and message and makes it a priority to spread out through the organization. This can be done via evangelists in the department who constantly promote their vision to peers.
By keeping focus (something marketing departments are notorious for losing) the marketing department can help cement and maintain the key core components of company culture and customer marketing via vigilant communications of those values to individuals through out the organization.
So, at the end of the day it is the responsibility of the marketing department to make a conscious effort to:
- Identify the core values that will create customer value, improve corporate culture, and differentiate the sales offering.
- Ensure leadership buy-in through passionate pitch to those responsible for championing the corporate message out to the customer interface. Maximize congruence between corporate goals and values and those outlined in number 1.
- Maintain focus on those issues through constant evangelism and communications to those tasked with implementing and executing - living those core values.
- Revitalize or replace all customer interface people who purposefully subvert, derail or ignore the value initiatives.