Most businesses don’t shy away from investing hand over fist in plastering their brand messages all over billboards, online advertising space, social media, AdWords, etc. How much is your business investing in teaching your own people who your business is? I’m willing to bet it’s a lot less.
Taking a very counter-intuitive approach, businesses often seem to value getting the message out there more than the knowledge those in charge of broadcasting it have. Sure, your sales team is probably pretty knowledgeable in terms of what you do and what it’s worth to the customer but that’s only one link in a very long chain of individuals whose understanding of your product can mean the difference between a coherent and profitable brand or a hopeless mess. Let’s have a quick look at the most important groups of people whose clear understanding of your product can have a serious impact on your business.
Owners and Business Managers
You don’t have to be the sharpest knife in the drawer to figure out that, as the first link in the business chain, the owner or whoever is tasked with acting on behalf of said owner has to have extensive knowledge about the business and its products. Still, you’d be surprised how few of these folks have a firm grasp of what they’re doing and how, especially if you take market positioning into account.
If you’re emotionally detached from your own business, why should others get excited over it?
One might understand what their business is up to and have absolutely no clue where they fit into their own industry. This is often due to running poor competitor analysis, to the point of turning this very useful process into nothing more than competitor stalking. As the final decision-maker within any company, the owner should have a perfect understanding of exactly what sells a product, to whom, how and what customers are looking for. This is also the person who should be able to talk the sales guys under the table when it comes to explaining the brand’s value and be able to adapt his or her pitch to reach anyone from a manager to the cleaning lady.
These folks are tasked with talking about your brand, building hype around your products, making them look stunning and giving your business a nice polish whenever possible. If they don’t get it, you’ll soon have an incoherent mess on your hands, as they build a somber visual concept for your toy company or deliver communication materials full of colloquial terms for your corporate, black-tie event. Getting the message across to these teams, weather in-house or outsources, is crucial to building a valuable, recognizable brand.
Granted, sometimes creative teams either don’t get it, don’t care to get it or aren’t capable of rising to a given standard but sadly, more often than not, the biggest issue with creating valuable advertising and branding materials isn’t a crappy advertising agency but rather the client’s mistaken ideas and assumptions as to what the brand ought to be. Your success doesn’t hinge on how well a designer understands and creates your whimsical vision of how your business card print shop should look like. In fact, it’s very much about your ability to create a clear distinction in said designer’s mind between your brand and all others and simply letting designers do design.
Much like designers, content writers and other creatives, marketing teams are the ones who introduce potential consumers to your product. Now, how on Earth will they be able to highlight its value if they themselves have a little more than a clue about what that value is.
Admittedly, in a media environment saturated by hundreds of thousands of pieces of content created, distributed and redistributed every day, marketing trends have shifted from content curation rather than creation. Marketers, therefore, rely less on generating content and more on finding it. In this context, it’s particularly important to have a very methodical approach in collecting content that is on topic, up to par and relevant for your consumers. Sharing hemorrhoid remedies on a tea shop’s Facebook page might not be the best approach in building brand loyalty, even if most of your audience is over 60 years old.
Marketers and creatives look to business owners and managers for information and resources and will work based on whatever you give them. Next time you complain that the 3 page flyer you had them build based on generic information isn’t exciting enough, you might want to reevaluate your own approach and resources.
Customer support reps
Do you pride yourself as being a reliable business partner who builds long-lasting relationships with its customers? You might want to make sure your customer support department is a reflection of that ideal. Valuable customer support isn’t built on the back of poorly-paid, disinterested interns who play it by ear.
If you’re brand is supposed to be “energetic” make sure the customer support rep sounds excited and is always smiling (yes, people subconsciously know when others are smiling on the phone and respond to it). If you’re supposed to be an “efficient” brand, put a detailed procedure together so your customer support team can offer solutions quickly and consider investing in a computerized system customized to your team’s needs.
I’ve purposefully left out sales teams because they are generally either trained or learn about the brand and its products on their own, however, that’s far from enough. Investing in branding and advertising is all well and good but unless your own people are what you preach your brand to be it’ll be about as useful as giving a drowning man a pint of water. And here’s some food for thought – if you can’t get the message across to your own people – you might want to reevaluate why you’re in business in the first place.