Who doesn’t love a 20% off sale?
That is enough to feel like you are really getting a deal. It is enough to matter to most people.
The same is true in reverse. If you lose 20% of something, that starts to hurt. Stock drops by 20%. Someone eats 1/5 of your birthday cake when you’re not looking. No one is happy losing 20%.
At InnerView, we use our Brand Transfer Score process to measure how much of your marketing message is getting lost in translation with your frontline teams. After collecting data from more than 7,000 frontline representatives across dozens of major brands, we found that the average marketer is losing 20% of their brand (or product) message between their office and their sales channels.
Marketing is crafting one story, while the people they have serving their customers are interpreting another.
Quantifying Brand Risk
Marketing and brand teams have been telling us for years that they know this breakdown is happening. They have learned to live with it. They accept it as a cost of doing business. But 20% is too high of a cost to ignore. The problem is easier to overlook if no one tells you how bad it actually is.
More than 80% of marketers have told us that their frontline representatives are critical to the success of their marketing strategy. They rely on the frontlines to deliver the message to the customer. The average Brand Transfer Score tells us that leaders and frontline teams are misaligned on what they are saying and how they are behaving.
That misalignment doesn’t necessarily represent a tangible dollar figure, but it does represent a lot of risk. There’s risk that your people are not saying the right thing to customers. They are forgetting the 20% that truly makes your brand stand out. They are losing sales because they are telling their version of the story, rather than the right version of the story. All of those examples add up quickly, and they also compound. A lost sale or a bad experience can cost companies a lot more in future customer value and loyalty.
Push vs. Pull
It’s impossible to keep everyone “on message”. What we have found through these Brand Transfer Studies, though, is most organizations are struggling for the same reasons.
Communication with frontline teams is primarily an exercise in pushing out information. Emails, trainings, and one-sheets are the usual suspects. The assumption is frontline teams will consume the facts, digest them and then know how to deliver the information in the right circumstances to the customer.
This approach fails to account for a big gap in the relationship between marketing and frontline teams. The frontline representatives are skeptical of whether marketing understands their world or the exchanges they are having with customers. The frontline teams don’t need more product information. They want leaders who are in tune with the conversations happening every day and are willing to provide the tools to help them better serve customers.
Not only do we observe this dynamic regularly, but this conclusion is supported by research we have done. For example, we found that frontline teams are far more likely to be confident in their brand’s value proposition if they have a regular dialogue with marketing around customer needs. This comes in two forms – marketing teams sharing customer insights and marketing asking frontline representatives for their input on customer needs.
A two-way collaborative dialogue is a great recipe to gain alignment in any relationship. For marketers, it is a great first step in closing the gap between the vision they have for their brand and the perception their frontline teams have. The BTS process our clients go through gets that dialogue started. It allows marketers to understand their teammates and to tailor the messaging and support to their needs.
What would you do to gain back 20% of your message? Be willing to listen first, and the gap closes quickly.