First 30 Days Blog

14 jun

Marketing from the Inside Out to Win Buy-in and Succeed at Change

MichelleKerriganI read a line recently, “Everything is marketing.” How true. We all have the potential to influence people every day. If you don’t believe that, you probably don’t buy products, share opinions with friends, or have a Facebook page.

I’ve worked with marketing companies my entire career—two powerhouses, one startup—and have executed some amazing campaigns for some amazing clients. A great deal of time and money goes into building a brand, gaining attention, and telling a story to consumers. But what goes on inside the brand? And is anyone supporting it?

Here’s the bottom line: a company’s success is largely based on what its employees do (or don’t do), just as much as what their customers do (or don’t do). So where’s the marketing to employees? How are they being influenced? Today’s tactic of “you’re lucky to have a job” is wearing pretty thin. Coercion is not the answer to winning in the marketplace; maybe marketing from the inside out is.

One of the many things I was asked to change when I led operations at the startup was Customer Support. I had heard a lot of complaints about their lack of knowledge regarding product, policy and membership, their inability to get issues resolved, and their habit of giving away credits (a.k.a. revenue) to soothe angry customers. So, I was very apprehensive accepting this new challenge.

The team was based in California (our headquarters were in New York) so they were far from the everyday action—a difficult situation in any large operation, impossible in a startup where change is an everyday event. It seemed like everyone in New York had something to say about this group, but very few people actually interacted with them. Why??

Here was a team of support agents who were fun, flexible, positive, social thru and thru, and passionate about our product and all kinds of media (music, movies, TV, web). In short, they were our target audience. And, one more thing—the perfect change agents.

Customer Service is Marketing and is Change. It’s where the rubber meets the road, the best advantage point of influence. Yet, it is often overlooked and underutilized. Many companies find the word ‘service’ boring. So it is not surprising how little support customer support gets—another change that has to happen if businesses want to succeed. They don’t see that customer service is change management at its finest, that the same elements needed for employee buy-in and great service—communication, participation, education, support, commitment—-are the same elements needed for customer buy-in and great sales.

Just think of all the companies you love and hate, and why, and I’ll bet your customer service experience played an enormous role in making up your mind, or changing it. Correct?

So, I knew I needed to begin a dialogue between Customer Support and Marketing, Customer Support and Product Development, Customer Support and Merchandising….you get the idea. Whether you’re influencing employees or customers, the dialogue has to be continuous, connected and contagious to work. Marketing from the inside out is effecting change through exchange. The success you have with your internal audience will help you win your external one. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Our VP of Marketing and his team got Customer Support involved in everything we were doing, and a great exchange of ideas and enthusiasm happened across all levels. We discussed customer wants and needs, new feature buzz, targeted campaigns, and product development. We shipped our latest store merchandise out to California so they could see and feel what we were selling, and flew our product manager out to train agents for a new launch. The agents tested new products and shared invaluable feedback from our customers’ point of view which helped us tailor our offerings the right way. Everyone was focused, collaborating, and on the same page: exactly where you want your customer to be.

Marketing rewrote our entire knowledge base, and we began a new story, from the inside out.

It is the job of today’s business leaders to market from the inside out, to take every opportunity to influence employees because, after all, they’re customers too. Begin the dialogue, open doors, get people involved. Share marketing ideas, do internal market research, get product feedback. Create a culture that is customer responsive by being employee responsive.

Be the brand you want everyone to identify with. Your best campaign could be sitting right in front of you.

Marketing has been defined as: “the whole company, taken from the customer’s point of view.”

How do your employees see their company?

Copyright 2010 Michelle Kerrigan

For over 25 years, Michelle Kerrigan has been helping organizations and individuals improve performance and productivity in the day-to-day workplace. A trusted expert who uniquely combines extensive leadership and operations experience with powerful coaching and organizing techniques, Michelle helps clients develop skills and confidence critical to the bottom line. More at

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Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on June 14th, 2010 in Career, Global/Social Change | 0 comments Read related posts in , , ,

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