Monday, March 22, 2010

An invitation to expose yourself: How well does your inside match your outside?

By Marc Sokol
No, we are not talking about undergarments! But we are talking about what happens inside your organization that either helps or hinders the execution of your sales and marketing strategy.
This is a new guest blog for MNAMA. Each month we will take a brief look at the organizational dynamics that drive your team to success or that drive you to drink.
As a psychologist, I tune into what makes people tick and how people relate to each other. As an organizational consultant, I’ve helped teams and organizations recognize what it takes to make change happen, to become more effective, and to see just how easily companies become dysfunctional even when they have good intentions.
This is an opportunity for you to sound off, to ask your community what they think and what they would do. I’ll have an occasional opinion to share as well. So let’s get started!
First, a few questions:
  • How well does the internal culture of your company match the brand message you share with customers? Does your inside mirror your outside?
  • How well do the front-line employees of your business understand the marketing strategy? If you are on that front-line, do you get a clear message, a mixed message, or no message at all?
  • How much latitude do you and others have to serve customers in ways that reinforce your brand and make a difference? (Or do you feel like passengers on the Titanic wondering which part of the ship will go down first!)
  • When it comes to helping your company execute an effective sales and marketing strategy, what drives you crazy about the way your company is managed? How is the alignment between what they say vs. what they do?
If one or more of these questions strikes a chord with you, or if reading them absolutely makes your hair stand on end, then take two minutes and leave a comment.
It’s time to sound off!
Marc Sokol is an organizational psychologist with an eye for how people and teams can be more effective, even in a dysfunctional company. He is part of M Squared Group, a data-driven marketing consultancy.

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Amanda Broman said...


This is a great post! Reading those questions was all too familiar with what we are working to improve at my organization. We are in a time of transition and I think that is when it is most important to have those questions answered and communicated to everyone.

Thanks and I look forward to reading your future posts.


Jackie said...

Great post Marc, what hits home most with me is that I think front-line employees (customer service, sales, tradeshow staff) in many ways ARE the brand. And when employee's actions and the brand message do not align, customers will see thru it! People like to do business with their friends, people they trust. I think our front line matches our brand message, but it was challenged when our "small company" image was altered when we were purchased of a big corporation. I do think we were able to show to our customers that we are still the same people to do business with.

Sabera said...

Jackie, thanks for sharing the insights about your company! In so many ways I feel this is the ideal manner to transition to a 'big' company.

Marc, I relate to your post in a really personal way, seeing examples of each of the questions you've raised, as a customer and an employee. I've often met friends who tell me that working for one division in their company is a nightmare, while in another division, it's a productive work environ. Look forward to more posts on this interesting topic!

Marc Sokol said...

Amanda, Jackie, and Sabera,

Thanks for your input. I agree that front-line employee are in fact the brand equity of any business, certainly in the eyes of customers who come into contact with them.
- From the standpoint of these employees, the question is whether Marketing and Executive Leadership are making promises that can not be delivered OR are they presenting a realistic preview of what it will be like to work with this company?
- Executive Leadership, at the same time, has to partner with the Marketing Division to determine what they see as a value proposition that will win in the market and then ensure they have front-line people who are willing, able and supported to deliver on that value proposition.
- The big red flag is when each of these groups miss the opportunity to talk with each other and think the others 'just don't get it'.

Jackie, you are spot-on with the challenge of any acquisition -- customers of an acquired company want to know if they will be casualties of the changes that are occurring. This is the moment of truth for any service oriented business. And if your competitor is being acquired by a bigger firm, it's also the time when their customers are most likely to switch if their expectations aren't met.

Isn't it interesting that we don't see Marketing Department and the Customer Service Department work as closely as we see Marketing & Sales do, or as closely as we see Sales and Service collaborate?

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