Oct 25 2004

Everyone's a Marketer, Part I

Everyone’s a Marketer, Part I

While there’s a specific marketing department at most companies, I think in today’s inter-connected, service-oriented business, everyone in the company is a marketer. Ok, it’s probably more true in some industries than others, but consider these pockets of marketing activity from non-sales/marketing personnel:

– Our front line customer service manager, Anthony, is on the phone with hundreds of customers each week answering questions about their email subscriptions or helping them unsubscribe. His mission? Make sure they understand our services and try to get as many of them as possible to stay on with us.

– Our client data coordinators Jeremy and Tom talk and email with clients regularly as we send data back and forth for processing. They have an ever-present opportunity to ask clients for more data, to talk to them about their email programs, to give them advice or help on their business.

– Any receptionist greets people every day on the phone and in person. How many of those people’s first impressions of your company come from this individual? How many of those who call or stop by are customers or potential customers?

– Our database administrator Kevin and our head of product management and quality assurance Dan talk to customers about their needs for reporting, or for custom functionality, not just trying to get the answer but trying to understand the business drivers behind the needs and think about the implications of those needs for other customers.

– Any hiring manager or recruiter is doing screening interviews with candidates for a new position. One of those candidates will end up as the “chosen one” — meaning our recruiter has to be selling that person (and therefore all candidates since the winner is unknown at the outset) on how great our company is from first contact.

– Our accounting team Liz and Paul call clients when they have overdue bills. Getting this right is a true art form — it’s tough to simultaneously be The Enforcer and also express appreciation for the customer’s business.

All of these things sound distinctly like marketing to me. So, with all of this non-marketing marketing going on, what should a smart company do? Weave the work of the marketing department into the daily lives of all employees: make sure everyone knows core messaging and value propositions, teach everyone to think like a marketer, provide easy mechanisms for people to report market feedback and needs into the marketing department.

We don’t do nearly enough of this at Return Path, but we have it as a goal to improve on these things.

Next up in this series: marketing yourself.