The marketing department is under a lot of scrutiny
The chief marketing officer (CMO) is under a lot of pressure to produce consistently measurable results. Additionally, the CMO is bombarded with new social media tools and technology as well as endless content marketing advice to be relevant with target customers, while the CEO is saying “show me how all this content you’re producing results in sales.”
This article is not intended to convince you that good content marketing can positively influence sales. Visit the Content Marketing Institute for a healthy dose of that evidence. Rather, this article serves to convince C suite executives to embrace the new paradigm of “social business.”
Spread Marketing Across the Organization
In a social business, the marketing efforts are spread across several functions of the organization. The logic for this model is actually very pragmatic. Your customer has access to a digital megaphone. She can say good things or bad things about your brand in many social media channels. And, there isn’t anything you can do to stop her. Consider also that your customer has friends and friends of friends who might listen to her. What she says online can influence the perception of your business or products. In short, she can influence your sales.
Now, ask yourself if your marketing department is big enough to listen and engage to all those digital conversations? Hopefully, your marketing team is using social media management technology to listen and engage. But, if you expect the marketing department to efficiently listen and engage to those conversations on the social web AND also create a whole bunch of relevant content, AND plan all those events you budgeted to host or attend, AND execute all those advertising campaigns that are considered important to your brand, AND manage your website (or online store), etc.….If you really expect your marketing department to manage ALL that, it’s no wonder the CMO’s office is a two year rotating door.
The CMO is Not a Super Hero
The CMO described in the previous paragraph doesn’t exist. In today’s digital age, the most successful CMOs establish the vision for marketing success and create partnerships of shared responsibility with other business functions. I submit that at a minimum the functions which should participate in the marketing of your business should include the sales team, customer service team and the production team. Let’s look at each function’s role in marketing.
Today’s Sales Professional is Marketing Savvy
Today’s sales professional is active in at least two social media channels. In B2B sales, building and maintaining an active network on LinkedIn is not an option. Twitter is another social channel where both B2B and B2C sales professionals can participate in the marketing communication effort. One simple way sales people can participate in the marketing effort is by sharing relevant industry content with their network through LinkedIn or Twitter. Some of it should include content produced by the marketing team such as blog posts, e-books, videos, etc. And, some of it should also be third party, industry content such as industry reports, relevant articles, etc. By sharing relevant content with your network, the sales professional builds credibility for herself and her employer. And, sales leads will occur from this activity. An excellent example of sales professionals in social action is SAP.
Today’s Customer Service Rep is Digitally Active
Customer service staff should be empowered to communicate with customers in social channels. I don’t suggest moving customer service entirely to social media. I do however suggest that some (or all) customer service professionals should be proactive and reactive to customer issues through social channels by listening and engaging where appropriate. These interactions should be “H2H” or human-to-human. As a consumer, I want to deal with a real person at a business, not the company logo or a faceless form. In B2B companies another type of customer service engagement is the people who deliver a professional service. Often, these are highly skilled staffers with titles such as “consultant,” or “engineer.” These employees should be willing to engage H2H with customers and prospective customers in social channels including blogs, Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter. Two outstanding B2B examples of “customer service” engagement through engineers or consultants include Indium and Kinaxis.
Today’s Production Team is Social
If you are a maker of any type of product, you have “production” people. In manufacturing the production people may work in a factory. In a software company production people are developers. In a hospital they are the healthcare practitioners. In a law firm they are the practicing attorneys. They are all the same in the context of “making a product.” Not all production people need to participate in online engagement. That’s where some planning is important. The CMO should partner with the leader of the “production” team (whatever that is in your business) to identify the person or people who are best suited to participate in social business conversations. It may take some experimentation but with a collaborative mindset, the right people can be integrated into the marketing effort. An excellent example of production people in action at a social business is Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
Employees Are a Branding Asset
The mindset that the corporate brand is the only “brand” asset has been obsoleted in the digital age. Employees can develop a valuable brand that can be “shared” with the corporate brand. Not all employees are well suited for shared branding. And, not all employees are qualified or even willing to participate in the shared branding process. That’s why planning between the CMO and functional leaders is so important with full support from the C suite. In order for that to happen, department leaders need to embrace the fact that marketing is not a department and be an enthusiastic partner in the planning process with the CMO. This collaboration should focus on the integration of corporate branding and employee branding. An excellent example with CEO level participation and support is Tribridge, an award winning IT service provider.
I know the “2.0” moniker has been over used. I’m as guilty as anyone as the author of the book Marketing 2.0. But, I can’t think of a more suitable way to frame this marketing paradigm shift. In the new paradigm, organizations who embrace the merger of corporate branding and employee branding intuitively recognize that marketing is an enterprise wide shared responsibility not just one department.