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If you were to ask any member of your team what your brand stood for, or who your perfect customer is or even what makes your business truly different to your competitors, would they know the answer? And more importantly, if you were to go and ask several of your team these same questions, would you get a consistent answer?

Ensuring that your team both knows and understands and is also really passionate about your business is one really cost-effective way to help create a solid and successful brand.

If you are investing into marketing to external stakeholders and customers, it makes complete sense to market to your internal team.

In this episode I chat to Chris Wallace, a marketing consultant who specialises in helping businesses communicate their brand story to their most important customer; their teams!

You can find Chris Wallace here:

Twitter: @ChrisWallaceIVG

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/innerview-group/


Episode Transcript:

Jane:

Hi Chris, and welcome to the How to do Marketing Show

Chris:

Thanks so much for having me. I’m looking forward to the conversation.

Jane:

Me too. And Chris, where are you actually joining us from?

Chris:

I’m in Philadelphia in the US, so the Eastern time zone.

Jane:

Fantastic. Well, thank you for joining us all the way from Philadelphia. Now before we kick off, and I asked you some of my questions about the marketing topic that we’ve chosen to chat about today. I would really like to ask all of my guests about why it is that they do what they do, and you help companies align their brand and product stories with their customer facing teams. What is it that you love about working in this space?

Chris:

It’s a great question to start with. I think that the most important thing for us, really everybody on my team is everybody that works with us, everybody that works with my company, they’ve all been part of the frontline staff before everybody’s been in sales or been in customer service or had one of those jobs before. And what we find too often is organisations throw really so much of their priorities and so many challenges at their frontline teams and team to really help put the puzzle together for those folks and make their lives easier. We see the benefits that it has not just for the employee, but for the customers. And we get a lot of satisfaction out of that. So really helping be the voice of those frontline folks back in the boardroom and in the C-suite with the executive teams that that really drives us every day. Okay.

Jane:

So you’re frontline force. I think I heard you say that’s your sales people, is that your customer service people as well, like who do you define as frontline force?

Chris:

I mean, we think anybody who interacts with the customer directly, right? That could be their sales team, it could be customer service, it could be a technical team technicians. We’ve worked with pest control companies who have people, technicians in bands and they’re going out and they’re servicing customers homes. We look at all of them, it’s the frontline staff of the organisation. Right?

Jane:

Brilliant. So I interview a lot of guests about marketing to customers and stakeholders who sit outside of the business. So let’s say for simplicity sake call that external marketing, you however specialise in what we’ll call internal marketing. Can you explain what internal marketing is all about?

Chris:

Yeah. I mean, really what it comes down to is the marketing department. In so many cases, you used the word external they’re delivering a story. They’re delivering a promise externally to the customers. They’re trying to attract the customers with that promise. What we do is we make sure that that promise is understood. And more importantly, that people believe in that promise. They understand what it is that they’re saying they can do for customers, but they actually believe their organisation can do it. And we don’t believe that the typical training or job aids and things like that in the past, we don’t think that gets people to believe in anything. They can get them to know about it, but knowing something and believing in it are two very different things. So you look at the marketing pieces, we always say marketing is behaviour change on a mass scale, right?

You’re trying to put a message out and get a lot of people to change their behaviour around your message. Well, we look at the ways that marketers do it externally, and let’s be honest. Marketing can be a lot of fun. And then you look at the waste that most organizations equip their internal teams to serve the customer. And it’s not very fun. It it’s not engaging. And our goal is to get them to want to do it, to get them to believe in it, not just know what it is. It’s not enough just to have the information. You really have to be able to turn that into a story. Yeah.

Jane:

Absolutely. So it’s internal marketing, external marketing, it’s all the same thing. It’s just who is your target audience? So essentially internal marketing is just defining your segment, your target segment, as the people who work for your business.

Chris:

I couldn’t have said it any better. I mean, that’s the way we talk about it is the employees, the people we always say that marketers always measure, what the customers think of their brand and of their products and services, but rarely do organizations measure what the people who talk to the customer think, and think about the things that you buy on a day to day basis might be a little bit different this year. This year has been a little bit crazy, but in normal times, you think about you go to buy something and the person that you buy it from can impact your decision. Well, not leaving that to chance and making sure that that person really does stand behind the message they’re delivering and they know what message to deliver. That’s really important. That can be the difference between winning and losing customers 100%.

Jane:

And the other thing that I think is really important for small business owners to understand as well, is that if you’re out there, investing in that external marketing piece, if you’re out kind of really telling that amazing story to potential customers and they get back to your business and they get a really suboptimal customer experience, because your frontline people just are not as excited about your businesses as you are, you’ve basically wasted all of that marketing investment.

Chris:

Yeah. I mean, whether you’re a small business or a large business, right. We always say that if you look at the difference in performance spending a little bit more money to make sure that the people inside your organisation are equipped, that they know what are the campaigns that are going out, what are you telling the customers? What is the role that they play in making sure that this is a campaign and the marketing is successful. You spend a little bit more to do that, and maybe you convert 10% more sales or 12% more sales, it easily pays for it. And then you think about how you measure the success of that marketing. The success of that campaign just went from mediocre to through the roof, just with that extra 10% conversion. So when you start looking at your cost to acquire new customers and the effectiveness of your marketing, and think you, when we talk about marketing insurance, right, it’s insurance to back up your bet that the people who represent you are going to are going to back up that message and back up the money that you spend to reach the customer a hundred percent.

Jane:

So that’s one reason why internal marketing is so important to make sure that when the customer actually gets to your doorstep, when they get to your front line, that they are able to convert that. What are some other reasons as to why internal marketing is so important for any sized business?

Chris:

Yeah. There’s a number of different reasons. We have a pyramid where we talk about the different metrics that are going to be impacted by the type of work that we do. But once you start getting past, let’s just say sales and revenue and things like that. And then you start to get into things like employee retention, customer retention, some of those things that are measured out over a little bit longer period of time. But you know, there’s something to be said for, there’s a CMO that we work with. And right before we signed up to do work with him, and he said, explain to me, what you do in the most simplest terms. And I said, we sell your company back to your employees.

That’s what we do. We take your brand and we sell it back to them. We remind them what makes you so valuable. We remind them what makes it an interesting place to work. And I don’t consider us an employee engagement company, but when you were driving an influence based campaign, as opposed to just giving people training, it does remind them how great a place they actually do work. And you start to see benefits throughout your business beyond just the sales. Like I said, employee retention, customer retention lower recruiting costs, lower onboarding costs. I mean, all the things that come with that yeah.

Jane:

And a higher conversion rate of customers you would think. And I think that’s really true. Something that I’ve observed with a lot of small businesses is even when a business or a small business refreshes their brand. So even if a small business has had the same old tired branding for the last 15 years, and they go through a brand revitalisation process and engage their employees along the way, getting input, if we’re using photography within the branding, we go and get people within the organisation photographed, et cetera, et cetera, customers, then being part of that journey. And then seeing that brand revitalisation come to life. The last project that we worked on, where we actually presented a couple of the staff members the new annual report, one of them burst into tears. She was just so touched by this revitalised brand. That’s so beautifully told the organisation stories. She cried.

Chris:

Yeah. It’s personal. Right. And I think it’s even more important in small organisations. And I mean, I’ve been an entrepreneur for going on 10 years now, and there’s certainly been pivots in the business and, us changing the strategic positioning and things like that. And throughout all that, you have to make sure you’re bringing the employees along for the ride, because if you’re not the interactions that they have, whether it’s, somebody doing sales and business development, or somebody interacting with a client, they need to be able to articulate what makes your organisation unique. And that’s really what it comes down to is differentiation. There’s so many different options, whether it’s for marketing services or consulting or for automobiles, or it doesn’t matter what it is. I always say that the only brand in the world that has true product superiority is apple. Apple is the only brand in the world that truly has a product that stands on its own. Beyond that everybody’s got stiff competition brands have to find a way to stand out for something other than a product. And it comes down to this idea of brand and the way that people back up the promises, but it’s every day that has to be reinforced

Jane:

One hundred percent. So if some small business owners who are listening to this think, okay, right, I’ve got to get onto my internal marketing. How do they start? Is there a particular framework or process that you can recommend that they can follow to kind of help them take their organisation on this journey?

Chris:

Yeah, I think so. The most important thing, especially to a small business owner, and I’m on a number of shows where I’m talking to a small business audience, the most important thing is internal marketing is we don’t look at it as an additional expense. This is not doing something more, that’s going to add a lot of money to your budget line. What we’re talking about is just a change in mentality, right? It’s a change in mentality of switching from looking at this information as something that you want to get people to comply with and switching that mentality to something you want to convince them as the right thing, right. Again, you’re selling it to them, but convincing them, getting them to opt in and influencing them to the right the right outcome.

So I would start by saying the minute you start looking at them as an audience to be won over, as opposed to people to be forced into compliance, you’re on the path to being able to do internal marketing. It really is just a different mentality. But I would say the number one thing that you can be doing beyond that is gathering input from your people in a regular structured format. I’m not talking about a once a year employee satisfaction survey. I’m talking about really measuring their point of view on the brand, on the products. What do they think is working? What do they not think is working and gathering that input? Not only is it valuable to be able to learn how to reach them and understand their point of view, but it also can become a great way to gather frontline feedback and use it for product development. Use it for marketing campaign development, gathering their input is business intelligence. Yes.

Jane:

Yeah.. That’s a really great suggestion. So kind of just changing that mindset and making sure that you are including your team as one of your target audiences, and just as you are kind of communicating those campaigns and rolling out those campaigns to your external market, just put in that extra line item or that extra column in your marketing plan spreadsheet, and just think about, well, how are we actually taking the frontline on the journey as well? Okay. That makes sense.

Chris:

Okay. Organisations do it now. They have a plan for that. But the reality is if most organisations big and small, if they’re honest with themselves and they go back and they look at it and they’ll say, it’s just not that interesting. Right? Then, it becomes, we’re going to check the box. You mentioned rebranding, right? We typically work with larger companies. And when the larger companies we work with go through a rebrand, what do they do? They drop a brand guidelines book on people’s desks. And they say, here are our new colours. Here’s the new tagline, but most organisations don’t do enough to really bring people along and help them understand what this means for them. What does it mean for their day to day? What does it mean for their conversation with customers? You have to look at it and just be honest and say, is this something that would influence me to act in a different way? If the answer is no, you’ve got to refresh it in some way. Yeah.

Jane:

That’s absolutely right. Yes. And particularly because outside of the marketing department, there’s a good many people who don’t really give a toss, about what’s happening with the marketing. It doesn’t really affect them in their silo. And so when you’re trying to bring these other people along for the people who just don’t really think about marketing, or don’t understand the value of marketing or the value of brand, is there a particular style of communication that you recommend, be it storytelling or presenting case studies or maybe internal videos, or something along those lines, something a bit different than slapping the old style guide on the table. Is there a particular way to communicate or bring people on the journey that you’d recommend?

Chris:

Yeah. I mean, the number one tool that we use, the most tried and true tool that we’ve ever used is peer-to-peer influence using frontline to frontline testimonials, workshops, huddles, whatever different format that can take. We’ve used everything from you know, peer to peer huddles that are done for an hour, once a week, where people are getting together and talking about here are my interactions with customers. Here’s what I’ve been saying. Here’s what’s been working, here’s what’s resonating and they learn from each other all the way to we use if they have an internal social media, like an internal message boards and things like that, where people are posting, every time they have an exceptional customer interaction they’re going on and they’re sharing, here’s what’s working well, here’s what’s resonating with customers.

It’s so great to get this great feedback from the customers and see it work. And they’re sharing ideas with each other. People don’t trust corporate. I mean, they don’t trust the leadership team. It’s when they see somebody next to them that they admire, and they respect who, who is going to say here’s an idea. That’s who they listen to. So we put them in a position where they’re getting horizontal leadership is what we often refer to it as from their peers.

Jane:

I love it. That’s a really good idea and testimonials again a very successful tactic to use in your external marketing. So why not apply that to your internal, we’re all humans at the end of the day. Now, what are some of the challenges that people might come across with their internal marketing? What are some of the challenges that you see in your line of work?

Chris:

Probably the biggest challenge is the organisations take their external marketing and they reproduce it in some form and they give it to their teams and they basically take the brochure. That’s going to sit in the lobby that the customer would get, or the product slick or whatever it is. And they take the same customer facing piece and they use that as the tool to equip their frontline teams. But the reality is the way that people will process the information, the person who has to talk to the customer doesn’t need the exact same language as the external, they need to understand what is the context for this? When do I bring this up? It’s really what is typically shared with people, but not the, how do I integrate this? How do I tell the story around this? You mentioned storytelling, right? The key here is to tell a story that people will want to retell. And if you take it out of context for them and just give them the same marketing pieces that you would give directly to a customer, that’s where we see a big disconnect. That’s a big challenge.

Jane:

That’s lazy marketing at the end of the day, isn’t it? I mean, that would be the same challenge. If you took, your marketing that you developed for the baby boomer, the 65 plus age group, and tried to apply that to a millennial market, you might be trying to sell the same service or product, but you’ve got to position it differently based on the context of the people that you’re talking to.

Chris:

It’s very true that contact, you know a friend of mine is a professor at Harvard Business School, and he always says, context matters in selling more than any other discipline in business context is so important, right? Putting information in putting concepts, into context for individuals is so critically important. And you know, a lot of organisations, they struggle to make that extra step. A lot of times it’s because there’s a disconnect between departments. And a lot of times it’s simply not marketing. It’s not their job to do this marketing, hands it off to somebody else. It gets turned into training, or it gets turned into whatever the case may be. It gets turned into manuals, whatever it ends up getting turned into. But our case to marketers is your frontline teams can decide what your brand is going to be. Right. They’re the face of your brand when the customer shows up, they’re the face of your brand. Marketers need to take more responsibility for this.

Jane:

Hundred percent. It’s such a massive touch point. Yeah. I agree. And what are some of the benefits? I mean, we spoke earlier in the chat about an increased conversion rate, but what are some of the other benefits from a business perspective if they really managed to nail their internal marketing? What might they say?

Chris:

So I would say conversion, definitely. But I would say depending on what their objectives are one of the big things that we see is what I’m going to call attach rate or upsell rate. A lot of times the stuff that we work on, the programs that we work on, are a company has something new. There’s something new that they’re bringing to market. Now they have a core business, and this might be an add on or an additional feature or some sort of ancillary, but related products. And those are the things that organizations struggle to sell to a great degree. They launch it. We’ve got this next great thing it’s going to bolt on with this sale. But the sales team doesn’t adopt. They’re afraid of it. They don’t know, they don’t get it. They don’t want to get it.

They tune out. But what we ended up doing is helping them really integrate that and finding that. Now you find yourself in a spot where not only do you do close sales at a higher rate, but you’re selling more, your average ticket price, your bolt on rate, whatever you want to call it, customers are buying more and the customers are happy at the same time. If you do these things well, they are going to buy more and they’re going to be happier. The size of the order or the size of the ticket or whatever you want to call it. And customer satisfaction work in unison. If you do a good job, those two things go up at the same time.

Jane:

And I can only just be taken back to my days at McDonald’s. McDonald’s are kind of notorious worldwide for their suggestive selling, for their upselling and suggested selling. So, we were trained to the degree, it was training, but there was more to it to ask every single customer, would they like with that? Would you like a drink with that? Or would you like to upgrade to a meal or whatever, but we weren’t just trained to do that. There was a lot of explanation and there was a lot of kind of scenarios. And there was a lot of kind of incentive in it for us. If our bosses could actually see that we were doing that. And I can imagine, I think the whole culture was based around that framework kind of really succeeding. So our whole kind of values and culture was based around that style. And I imagine that they made an absolute truckload of more money just by really inspiring us to ask people if they would like fries with that.

Chris:

Yeah. And when you think about it, nobody at McDonald’s ever adds the ice cream sundae onto their meal, and is mad about it at the end. Right. They’re always happy with that decision, right. That’s not a decision that they regret. They spent more, they’re happy. But here’s another thing kind of goes back to what I said at the beginning, if the person who’s having that conversation, the phrase, do you want fries with that? That’s kind of a punchline. A lot of times in business, because in selling circles, people will say, well, that was just a, do you want fries with that offer? And it was sort of an afterthought at the end. If it’s an afterthought at the end, it shines through to the customer. The customer knows that you’re just doing it to try to get something tacked on. You have to find a way to work it in a way where it’s very clear that it’s about them. The offer’s not about you. It’s about them, too many organisations put people in a spot where they just do that. Do you want fries with this offer? And it’s not authentic. It’s not genuine. Now. Mcdonald’s has found a way to institutionalise it, being a genuine offer. But other organisations really struggle with that. Yeah

Jane:

Yes, you’re so right. What are some of the consequences for not doing internal marketing? So if people don’t take the effort to really engage their team with their marketing messages, what could be some of the consequences?

Chris:

Well, I think there’s a couple, you look at the typical, the typical corporate initiative falls well short of its objectives, right? So you go through a lot of R and D you go through a lot of investment in marketing. So I would say investments that don’t necessarily pan out because your organisation does not execute right. Execution is the most important thing in business. It’s typically not strategy where organisations fall down. So in terms of the consequences, the first I would say is just simply you fall short of your goals, right? The bets that you make don’t pan out because your teams are not delivering. So I think that that’s one. I think that’s one example that you can point to beyond that you think about the people that work for the organisation, and just generally losing their morale, their enthusiasm not finding new ways to engage them.

I always say that people don’t go to work. And then when they leave, they take their work hat off and they put their consumer hat on. That’s not how people live in 2020, they’re sort of in this always on consumer mode. Well, if that’s the case, treat them like a consumer, like you said earlier. So, make them a marketing segment. I just think that the relationship that companies will have with their people, by taking the mentality, will take them a lot further. And there are brains who have that and there’s not and there’s some really strong examples of that.

Jane:

Absolutely. And I have yet to meet a business owner who is not keen on reaching their goals, or exceeding their goals. So that’s a big one. So if we’re talking about these benefits and these consequences, you’ve spoken about some of the metrics already, in terms of customer retention, perhaps conversion rate, employee retention. Are there any other kind of specific metrics that you’ll put in place to benchmark or measure a company’s internal marketing efforts?

Chris:

Yeah. I mean, we’ve actually developed one. I look at all of those are results, right? Those are sort of outputs of the effort, but we have a leading indicator that we’ve developed called the brand transfer score. And essentially what the brain transfer score is, it’s built on a market research platform essentially. And we mostly, like I said, most of the organisations we work with are fairly large. So we take an external market research tool and we use it inside the organisation to benchmark what the attitudes and perceptions are. So we go through and we measure the leadership team’s perspective on their brand, around their product or whatever the case may be. And then we measure the various frontline audiences, whether they’re sales, customer, service technicians, whomever, and we can track over time the comparison between the frontline teams and the leadership team and see how closely their perceptions align or misalign. And then we can watch that number change over time. We can correlate that to movement and improvement in your brand transfer score is going to lead to better conversion. It’s going to lead to better customer satisfaction scores, things like that. So we’ve built our own manufactured, our own leading indicator. So organisations can know, are we on the right track or not?

Jane:

And that’s something just kind of thinking through that at a top level, it’s probably something that a small business owner could do as well, just in terms of, let’s say a small business of 20, or maybe even 50 staff, they could look at their management or their leadership teams just by maybe five basic questions around how they’re perceiving the brand, because obviously the notion is that they’re the ones that are in the strategy meetings. They’re the ones that are setting the marketing, kind of direction into place for their perception should be hopefully fairly correct of what’s actually going on. But then just taking those same five questions to your frontline staff about how the brand’s perceived or how the products are perceived or even just kind of testing them maybe on what information, that they’ve got about those particular products or services. I’m sure that could be probably done in a simplified way for small businesses. What do you do once a year, or how often do you benchmark?

Chris:

We’ll do them every 90 days. So typically we’ll do it every 90 days. So if we launch a new initiative with a client we’ll measure, before we start, we’ll give them a baseline metric. And then after we start doing our work or doing our internal campaigns, we will go back and remeasure at the 90 day mark. But there’s one thing I would really caution against when you’re going to gather that type of feedback or do that sort of analysis. You really have to measure specific things. Now I’ll give you an example. We have a partner company that we work with large organisation up in Canada, and they measure confidence. They ask their frontline teams, how confident are you in your products? And they have these confidence indexes. And I keep pushing back on the person that I know there, because I keep saying to him, asking somebody how confident they are only tells you so much people may say, well, I think my boss wants me to say that I’m confident.

But if say they’re confident, but they’re confident in telling a story that might be different than leadership. It’s worse to have them confident in the wrong story than it is for them to say, I don’t have confidence, right? You’d rather know that they’re not confident and figure out why then to have them confident in the wrong thing. We probably see that more than anything else with the study that we do, we’re able to come back to people and say, they’re saying they’re confident. You’re saying you’re confident, but they think the story is this. And you’re telling them the story is that and your off. So they’re out talking about this when they need to be talking about that and we’re able to get underneath it. So I would just caution against what I would call like typical, just normal survey questions. Like how confident are you in that type of thing, you have to ask specific things. What is it about the product that you believe makes it excel? What is it about our brand that sets us apart and really identify what those key points are? Not just ask general question.

Jane:

Yeah. That is a really good tip. And that I think applies not just for the internal questioning, but it also applies if you’re actually going out to market and asking your customers questions as well. I think that the more specific you can make your question, the better data you’ll be able to get back in the better decisions, the more accurate decisions that you’ll be able to make. Really good point. Thank you. So after hearing all of your fabulous insights and expertise, if someone would like to actually reach out and connect with you, how they’re best to find you?

Chris:

Well, there’s two best ways. First I’ll let you know our website is interviewgroup.com.au . So interviewgroup.com is our website. And then I’m very active on LinkedIn. So when you look for me now, Chris Wallace is not an uncommon name. So you have to look in Philadelphia in the States and you’ll see me there. You’ll see the interview group tag there, and I’m happy to connect, happy to answer any questions or follow up with folks after the show.

Jane:

That’s brilliant and very generous. Thank you so much, Chris, for sharing all of that. Fantastic insight. Really appreciate it.

Chris:

I appreciate the opportunity, Jane. Thank you.

 

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