Outside-In Marketing

In these days of ever-increasing customer expectations, the success or failure of a company's marketing efforts depend upon the attitudes and actions of the employees on the organization's front lines - or your "live channels," those who serve and sell to your customers. Not only are they responsible for implementing the programs, their frequent customer interactions put them in a unique position to glean valuable information about how well things are - or are not - going.

Getting buy-in from these employees is a critical part of a campaign's ultimate success. We've found that many of the techniques that work well for traditional marketing programs are equally effective at persuading employees to adopt new systems or processes. We call this approach "Outside-In Marketing."

It's well known that one-off marketing campaigns are less effective than broad campaigns that use sequenced contacts integrated across multiple channels over time. The same holds true when communicating with employees. Repeat your message, using many points of contact, in multiple channels. Employees also need to understand their return on investment (ROI). Marketers go to great lengths to articulate consumer value propositions, and the same holds true for crafting employee value propositions.

Just as in external marketing campaigns, it pays to know what differentiates your audiences and why. The more you reach out to an individual group's needs, the more you will find enthusiastic support. Every marketer knows the importance of targeting and segmenting customers, and this same principal can be applied internally as well. To ensure your initiative is embraced, make key influencers part of the team and charge them with spreading the word to their peers. These de facto leaders within the organization will help pave the way for acceptance.

It helps to figure out at the beginning of the initiative just how you're going to measure success, as the attitudes and processes that must be measured are less concrete than what's typically measured for external campaigns. Often it's the people who are closest to the customer in the live channels - those making the marketing initiative come to life - who can provide the most immediate insight into how well the program is being adopted by other employees, and how well it's being accepted by customers. They're also in the best position to recommend small process changes that could produce enormous benefits.

Done right, this type of ongoing measurement/feedback/improvement loop becomes self-perpetuating. Actively listening to your employees and implementing their suggestions helps foster loyalty and support for the program, which in turn encourages them to continue providing feedback. When you embark on a marketing project - whether it's a new product rollout, a branding campaign, or a shift in customer strategy - think "Outside-In Marketing." You, your employees, and your customers will be glad that you did.