Welcome to our week of Reinvention for Business—Day 6! The Ho‘ohana Online Community has graciously agreed to some hale-sitting in Talking Story this week for me, and they are sharing their thoughts with you on our March Ho‘ohana, a challenge for us all to reinvent ourselves in business.
Our Guest Author today is Wayne Hurlbert of Blog Business World.
I can’t recall how I first discovered Blog Business World, however I do remember that Wayne’s blog was one of the very first I ever read. No surprise there, for Wayne is SEO King in my eyes, and I have often said here on Talking Story how much I learn from him. “Mentor” is the word that suits Wayne superbly, for he gives away his knowledge so freely within his desire to see the rest of us succeed. I am so pleased to have his expert hand complete our forum this week.
I have some surprises at the bottom of Wayne’s article! But first, let’s learn from Wayne.
It’s a common sight in many businesses.
The weekly marketing meeting is attended only by those people directly involved in the narrowest definition of marketing. Usually the Marketing Manager will say a few words, the Sales Managers will add a few more, and a few goals will be set. Little if any consideration is given to the front line people carrying out these wonderful plans.
The inside and outside sales staff are given some orders, and perhaps a pep talk, and little else beyond a brochure. The front desk reception people are given very little except a phone script. The office and clerical staff are usually given nothing at all.
When the sales numbers arrive for the time frame in question, the totals on the page often look very bad in the cold harshness of black and white. The marketing division personnel only know that top management will not be happy with the results. Hasty meetings with sales are called. Little is resolved. The original failed plans receive very cosmetic changes. Rinse and repeat.
If this sounds like your company, then perhaps an entire change in marketing perspective is required. Those shifts in marketing thought should involve everyone in the company. All personnel and staff, from all areas of the business, must be a part of the new holistic theory of marketing. The customers of the company must also become part of the overall marketing process.
The definition of who is responsible for marketing the business must be expanded to include everyone within and outside of the company. That requires a major change in company thinking and attitudes toward marketing.
Getting everyone on board
The first step to reinventing marketing, to include everyone connected to the business, in the overall marketing of the company. While that might appear to be radical thinking for traditional marketers, it’s really more in the line of common sense.
Multiply the overall number of people thinking in terms of marketing, and selling the products and services, and those regular revenue reports will look much more pleasant.
The first step is to develop a company wide policy that everyone within the company is involved in marketing. The senior management has to make product and services marketing a total team effort, and become involved themselves. By setting a strong example, and displaying a full commitment to the effort, other employees will join in as well.
The marketing department will be called upon to involve everyone in the organization. The doors must be opened wide, and ideas should flow both ways. Management staff must recognize that some of the very best ideas will arrive from the hands on personnel on the front lines. Their face to face meetings with customers and clients provide valuable product and market research. This front line intelligence should be put to use, and not ignored.
The customer service staff should be well trained in all aspects of the company’s products and services. Instead of outsourcing customer service, take a closer look at keeping the department in house. While short term savings might appear favourable, the potential sales left on the table far outweigh the few dollars saved on wages.
Customer service representatives must be empowered to solve customer problems. All too often, the role of the staff is to get rid of the customers, and to ignore any complaints. That shortsighted approach is precisely the wrong path to take.
The customer service rep who addresses a customer’s concerns, and resolves the issue beyond the dissatisfied customer’s satisfaction, will have won a customer for life. The lifetime value of the saved customers and their purchases, more than pays for the customer service department.
Along with solving problems, customer service can offer upselling to better and higher priced products. They can provide cross selling opportunities to the customer, in the form of a one stop shopping experience. They can assist a customer make a purchase better suited to their needs, than the original selection.
All of these things maintain the customer base for life. The cost of keeping an existing customer is only a fraction of acquiring new ones. Those savings add up, and the customer list grows ever longer.
The receptionist is often the first contact a customer has with the company. Don’t use the front desk as a place to put the newest employee. Provide that person with full company knowledge so the appropriate assistance can be offered to the potential customers and clients. Proper training for telephone staff is essential, and should be taken very seriously.
Keep your premises clean and inviting, and involve all maintenance and custodial staff in the process. Pleasant surroundings boost sales and customer satisfaction.
Get the customers into the act
Your customers are some of the most powerful marketing people you company has at its disposal. Unfortunately, their support is either neglected or even outright discouraged.
We all know about good old word of mouth advertising. As a handy marketing technique, it’s extremely powerful at increasing sales and brand loyalty. Satisfied customers are your company’s best product and service evangelists. Treat them well, and reward them for their efforts.
Ask your customers for referrals. Provide your sales staff with specific questions to ask for recommendations of friends, family, and business associates. If your now fully trained staff does its job well, sales should increase dramatically.
People tend to believe people they know and trust. If your company has made them happy, they will tell others to support your business. Once again, proper customer service pays off in real dollars for the company bottom line.
Customers represent a gigantic hidden source of product and service ideas. In fact, if they suggest a product or service be added your business product line, the customers are far more likely to buy it. They already have a degree of ownership of the product. Help them to help you succeed.
Marketing is not just the responsibility of the marketing department. It involves everyone connected with your business, whether staff or customers.
Get everyone involved, and watch your sales skyrocket.
Mahalo nui Wayne!
Here are the surprises I promised: Wayne is a blogspot.com hold-out, and so because there is no profile page there that I can find, you’ll have to be a good sleuth like me and learn more about Wayne through his voice: This sampling may surprise you at first!
Wayne’s Derby World. Roller Derby, RollerJam, RollerGames, and Rollergirls.
Codswallop and Flapdoodle. Aliens, Mars, conspiracy theories, and other mysteries, discussed by two friends who have no clue, and spend way too much time in the pub.
Smart Man Online. Wayne!
Do you have questions for Wayne? Would you like to add your voice to his? The comment lines are open, and ready for your thoughts.