Early in my marketing career, I worked with a brilliant car dealer in Broken Arrow, Okla., who created an automotive dynasty in the Northwest, only to sell it and start again in Oklahoma. He is now on his third family of mega-dealerships in Albuquerque.
He would have me fly into Broken Arrow on Thursday nights so I could help kick off the weekend marketing by running the Friday sales meeting. I would start the meeting with something fun and motivational, show the commercials for that weekend, walk through the media-buy details and cover the campaign messaging with the salespeople. By the time the meeting was over, they would be educated, motivated and ready to make the weekend a success.
I’ll never forget the time I was there when the car dealer asked me to do the Friday sales meeting — even though we didn’t have any advertising running that weekend. I thought it odd, even unethical at the time, but later realized how shrewd he really was. The results that weekend were almost as strong as when we had invested thousands of dollars in advertising — all because the salespeople thought we were on the air. It’s a lesson I’ll never forget.
Engaging your team is a key step in executing an effective marketing strategy that is too often overlooked. Whether you’re a business with one or 1,000 employees, involving, educating and communicating with your employees about your marketing efforts can be a powerful and profitable move for your company.
Before you implement a strategic plan, launch a new website, submit a press release, start a social media contest or kick off any kind of advertising campaign, you should walk your employees through the plan, share your strategy and show them the tactics you plan to implement in delivering your marketing message.
• When you invest in marketing, you are investing in your employees.
• It makes them proud to be a part of your company.
• If you believe in your company, so will your employees.
• You’re reinforcing why they work for you.
• You’re showing confidence in your product and services.
• Your employees (and their friends and loved ones) will be your best marketers and salespeople.
The most important employees to know about a campaign are often overlooked: The people who will hear first from your potential customers. This could be the person who oversees your website and social media communications, or the person who answers the phone or greets people who walk in the door. They are the most valuable reinforcement of your marketing efforts.
If someone walks in and asks about a certain product, the sale you have going on or the story they saw about you on an Internet news site, they can immediately validate it and offer more information. But, even better, if your customer-facing employees ask customers if they’ve stopped by because of your marketing and they don’t know about it — it gives your employees a perfect opportunity to tell them all about it.
I go back to my automotive days to best demonstrate this. At one of my Oklahoma client’s dealerships, if anyone called the dealership during the weekend, he or she would get a live person answering the phone asking, “Are you calling about the sale we have this weekend?”
Or let’s say you walked into one of his stores: You would first see banners on the lot and hang tags in the vehicles reinforcing the campaign. You would then be greeted by a receptionist or salesperson, wearing a button that reinforced the campaign, who asked if you were here for the campaign. If you weren’t aware of it, they would quickly show you the newspaper ad. Everyone was on board and reflected the same message they saw on their phones, computers or televisions.
Now here’s the best part: Educating your employees about your marketing plans doesn’t cost a dime. It’s a step you can add to your marketing efforts that will enhance your efforts greatly, make for more engaged and motivated employees and bring you better results.
I learned many important lessons working in the automotive industry, with creating results-oriented campaigns near the top of the list. But the best lesson the car business taught me is what I learned that day in the Broken Arrow sales meeting: If your employees are excited about your marketing, there is no limit to what it can accomplish.
Camille Blakely is president of Blakely + Company, a full-service marketing and communications firm in downtown Colorado Springs. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.