With a new year comes new initiatives. That includes product launches, new brand campaigns, new pricing and promotions. Marketers will be judged on how effectively they can drive results around each one, so there is no time to wait around for someone else to take charge.
Unfortunately, launching new initiatives is not easy. Getting the new strategy from the management team down to the frontlines requires a lot of coordination and time. According to new research from Tom Steenburgh from the University of Virginia, the traditional methods of mobilizing your sales team are not working.
Therefore, as marketers get set to launch their new programs for 2019, I offer the following tips for getting your front-line teams both excited and “on message”:
1) Ask Their Opinion – As a marketer, you always ask what your key customer segments think of your new product, campaign or promotion. Your internal partners are a critical audience too. If they hate it, you’re better off knowing early so you can fix it.
2) Recruit Ambassadors – Your staff is too small. Everyone’s is. Employees want to be challenged, so find some volunteers to be internal champions for your new initiative. Let them be the face of the effort so it gets the attention of their peers.
3) Ditch One Old Tactic – Ebooks are not hip anymore. Computer-based trainings are a snooze fest. Look at the tools you are providing your customer-facing teams and commit to replacing one tactic you think is stale. Different will be immediately perceived as better (at least fresher).
4) Find “Wins” and Celebrate Them – Seek out front line team members that are having success with your new initiatives. Find out how they are doing it. Tell others what they are doing. Repeat!
5) Get in the “Trenches” (as a leader) – Schedule time to go out into the field and interact with customers alongside your sales teams. Listen to the customers. Listen to your brand representatives. You will learn a lot about how your product is perceived.
6) Get in the “Trenches” (as a customer) – Go to where your products are sold and shop them as if you were a customer. Don’t have a checklist or a specific agenda. Have as normal of an interaction with the people who represent your product and see how aligned they are with marketing.
7) Share Customer Insights – You are likely using data to shape marketing strategy, but that is not all it is good for. Your sales team would love to see some of the customer insights you have. It helps them understand the strategy better and how they can talk about your products.
8) Turn Facts into Stories – If you do share customer insights, help your internal teams understand the story, not just the facts. Statistics don’t move people to change their behavior, the consequences of the stats do, though.
9) Find Inspiration from Another Industry – You are an expert in your field, no doubt. However, the best ideas for your industry will likely come from another sector. Find a friend, former colleague, neighbor (whomever, it doesn’t matter) who is in another industry and spend a day learning how they market. How do they communicate with their customers? How do they communicate with the customer-facing teams? You’ll see something good or you’ll see something broken. Either way, you’ll find some insights that will make you better.
You have aggressive goals this year. You are not going to accomplish them without help. Marketers need to turn customer-facing teams into their own personal marketing army if they are going to achieve the success they want. Pick one off this list and get to work.