Written by Graham Couling of www.braindropsmarketing.com
Graham Couling is a marketing manager and consultant that specializes in current small business marketing strategies that are practical and effective.
When I was in business school, the “4 P’s of Marketing” were repeatedly jammed into my head, day after day. Many courses, ranging from economics to organizational behavior, had reference to the “4 P’s of Marketing.” If you are not familiar with the 4 P’s, they are product, price, placement and promotion. Essentially, all aspects of any organization need to consider these important fundamentals when operating their business.
Fast forward a few years. I had been working as a sales representative selling consumer goods. It was my job to sell commodity items to grocery and health food stores. I observed and interacted with many types of employees. I worked with retail sales clerks to management in departments like marketing.
Product, Price, Placement, Promotion, and People
Well, one key practice that I repeatedly noted when I went from business to business was that those companies that treated their staff well were the most successful. Sounds too simple, I know.
The companies that asked their employees for their input and implemented what was suggested by them were doing better. Employees, in multiple departments, had input into how the daily operations and direction of the company should go. Policy was determined on staff experience and understanding of what the market wanted. Not what a manager in an office 300 miles away may feel was best based on focus groups and online sales metrics. But practical, hands on experience.
All too often I saw employees that were talked down to by their “superiors” and made to feel inferior and were not consulted when decisions were being made. All too often “managers” made policy and it was “handed down” for implementation.
You can imagine how a non-consulted employee being told what to do repeatedly will perform. You guessed it, with no enthusiasm, and less than stellar performance. If you could measure the productivity of multiple unhappy employees, like you do with online metrics, it would be apparent that most organizations with subpar employee participation would most certainly not outperform their competition.
How Does All of This Tie Into a 5th P?
It wasn’t until after I graduated in 2000, that a “5th P” was considered to be added to the traditional marketing mix. And, what was it you ask? Wait for it…wait for it…”people” was the “new” 5th P!
This might sound odd, but during my time in school, the concept that people in your organization were key to bringing success to your business was never discussed in much detail. And truth be told, at the time, I hadn’t given it much thought either.
So, I took to the internet to review the “4 P’s” - did I miss something in my classes? Was I so absorbed in learning the other pragmatic business skills that I overlooked the very basic part of what makes a business tick? Yes, I had missed something, something big. I am not proud to state this, but it did take me a few years in the business world until I came to the realization and conclusion that those companies that consulted and treated their employees with true respect did better. Not just a little bit better, but better in a big way!
Without going into too much detail, I have worked with a range of companies with various business acumen. I have worked with ones that gave very little thought to asking their employees for input to ones that have open communication on how the business should operate.
A recent Gallup Poll that looked at businesses in the United States determined that less than one-third (31.5%) of U.S. workers were engaged in their jobs in 2014. One point to highlight, Millennials were the least engaged. Not good as many of them have tremendous skill and a lot to contribute.
If you attract the most talented people, ask their opinion, let them have a say in how the business is run. The result, active employee participation and enthusiasm toward achieving business objectives.
How Does this Affect the Digital Business World We Live In?
What does it all mean? It means that your employees, when engaged, are much more likely to participate in online marketing initiatives, share their story with their circle of influence and are more than willing to learn and participate in marketing programs that you need their participation in, like blogging and social media efforts. Try to get a non-motivated employee to write a blog on why they like coming to work every day. My hunch is, it’s not going to happen or the blog post submission is going to read like the minutes from a Monday morning staff meeting on the importance of smiling when you greet a customer as they enter your store.
Listen to Your Employees
Your employees are your business, and the efforts they exude directly impact your business success. The totality of the marketing mix becomes your story, and your employee's story is worthy of sharing, as “the story” is how businesses differentiate themselves in the marketplace these days. Customers like doing business with people, not a nebulous entity with no personality. Listen to your employees, ask them to get involved, praise them when appropriate and lead by example. You will move the needle. You’ll move it a lot.
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