The growth of digital marketing has marginalized a key marketing channel – your people.
HR managers are a key marketing channel in talent acquisition. Sales, account management and customer service drive customer acquisition marketing.
How did this channel get so ignored?
The simplest answer is that people are less predictable.
When you write an email marketing campaign, you control what’s being said and how it’s being said. You get to decide when it is deployed.
A marketing automation tool allows you to choose the order and cadence of your messages.
These tools also give you analytics and a clear picture of what’s working. With people, you have to work harder to get that information. You have to ask questions, you have to listen. And you need to have the time to do it all.
With digital marketing, the input is controlled and the output is measured.
When you get people involved, you need to let go of that control and work harder to get that measurement. There’s no way to control exactly what a sales manager says to a customer during a real-time conversation.
To take that a step further, your experienced salespeople and managers are likely to have long, deep relationships with their customers. If you’ve ever tried to interject or assert control over how they interact with those customers, you know it’s rarely well-received.
What happens when this channel isn’t part of your strategy?
Inconsistency is the biggest pain point when you omit your people from your marketing mix.
If I’m applying for a job at your company and the website says something different than what I’m hearing from the HR manager, it’s cause for concern. There’s no way for me to judge the truth about working there. In a competitive hiring market, instilling confidence through consistency is a competitive advantage.
From a sales perspective, an inconsistent experience influences the decision-making process. It might cause a lead to pause, to research or to evaluate you against your competitors. The sales process is a preview of being a customer and if they experience inconsistency during one, they’ll assume inconsistency in the other.
How do you include the company’s staff in the marketing mix?
This can take a lot of forms. The right choices for your marketing strategy depend on things like the structure and strengths of the people in your organization.
There are some fundamental ways to make this group a centerpiece of your marketing mix.
Invest in training them – If you do nothing else, include training other departments when you’re rolling out anything new. Make sure they’re fully versed in the company’s message, in any product marketing rollout and anything else the marketing department is doing. Get good at packaging the information and making it relevant to them.
Engage them in getting feedback – These internal audiences will have the most consistent touchpoints with your end audiences. They will be the first people to hear when things are working or not working. Make a plan to ask them, catalog that feedback and review trends with them.
Build & design the things they need – A large part of marketing’s job is to empower these people. They are the ones that influence results. They drive sales, they attract talent. Do the work to figure out what they will actually use, what will give them the confidence they need to consistently achieve their goals.
A word about engagement
All of the above sounds great but it’s no secret that these efforts could be met with some friction. Marketing itself can often be dismissed or undervalued by these same departments.
Similar to the way you use marketing know-how and strategy to promote your business and products, you need to package and message this work to get internal adoption.
Invest time in crafting your message about how this will benefit them. Make a plan to repeat the messages. It’s often easy for things marketing creates to be out of sight, out of mind. It’s even easier if you only tell people about them one time. Think of these internal audiences like your customer. The more they “buy” your product, the better your results.
For ecommerce companies, influencer marketing took off because they leaned on people who had followings and relationships. Your influencers might very well be people on your team. Find ways to work with them, include them in your plans and invest time in their involvement.