Engagement Marketing

Employees: Much More than Human Resources

As the face of your brand, employees are your organization’s key contributor to sustainable, competitive differentiation. Think of it this way: product and service innovation can be short-lived in a crowded and commoditized market, but the one thing technology cannot replace and competitors cannot copy is your employees’ relationship with customers.

Here are several great quotes on why employees are critical to an organization’s success.

“When employees are happy, they’re better ambassadors and advocates for the brand. They’re your first point of contact. When you’re at a cocktail party, and you’re talking to some, and they say, ‘I love my company,’ you can’t put a price on that.” Alison DaSilva

“Companies can ignore their internal audience – but that’s as short-sighted as ignoring the external one.” Bill McEwen

“If your organization values the individual, you will inspire the individual to value your organization.” Doug Conant

” … emphasis on people-related issues makes perfect sense in a still-uncertain economy. Building a culture that supports engagement, employee training, leadership development, and high performance is something companies can control, and can mean the difference between growing market share and simply surviving … ”  Rebecca Ray

“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.”  Sybil Stershic

“Dispirited, unmotivated, unappreciated workers cannot compete in a highly competitive world.” – Francis Hesselbein

“Everyone wants to be part of something … everyone wants to feel that they are valued, that they made a difference. To the degree we can celebrate our people, that’s our greatest weapon, our greatest tool.” Bob Wood






Engagement Marketing Training & Development

My Top 7 Blog Posts

Reviewing my blog’s top posts over the past few years, I was surprised with the popularity of my “favorite employee engagement quotes” posts. So I’ll continue to share the best quotes on workplace engagement compiled from both current and classic articles on the subject.

Here are Quality Service Marketing’s top seven blog posts:

A special thank you to my many blog readers for your continued encouragement and support!

Customer service Marketing

The Three Most Important Questions You Need to Ask in Marketing

A brilliant marketing colleague of mine taught me the three most important questions that need to be considered based on the customer’s perspective. These apply to both product and service providers in B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) organizations.

  1. Who cares?
    To better understand who needs the company’s products/services, and how it matters to them.
  2. What difference does it make?
    For insight on how the company’s offerings solve the customer’s problem or fills a specific need (rational and/or emotional).
  3. What’s in it for me?
    To understand real and perceived benefits and the degree to which the customer feels the solution is worth paying for – in terms of money, time, and convenience.

Why are these marketing questions important?
Because they’re what your customers are asking themselves as they consider whether to do business with you or your competitors.

How do you learn the answers to these questions?
Your customers will tell you based on their experience with you, and they’ll tell others as well. If you’re not listening and responding to your customers — via feedback from front-line employees, customer surveys, complaint tracking, social media, etc. — then it’s time to start.




What Marketing is Missing

Marketing may do a great job of communicating brand value to consumers, yet it doesn’t necessarily do the same for communicating its own value within an organization. Far too often I hear marketing staff commiserate about how they struggle to get respect and buy-in for their programs, including from the areas they support such as Sales and Product Development. It’s a serious concern as all departments – individually and collectively – impact brand delivery, thus impacting Marketing’s effectiveness.

What’s missing is marketing Marketing itself — not for its own glory or credit, but for strengthening its relationship with everyone in the organization. It’s not that we don’t know what to do to market our function; it’s that we’re so busy taking care of everyone else’s marketing needs that we neglect our own.

Marketing is all fun and games … or is it?

It’s hard to be taken seriously when people associate you primarily with “fluff,” but that’s what a lot of people think about Marketing. Just because the Marketing Department occupies a place on the organizational chart doesn’t mean people know who we are or what we do.

To get other departments to better understand and support Marketing’s efforts, we need to intentionally get out of our silos and strategically market Marketing within our companies. It’s not that difficult or complicated. It’s a matter of investing the time to educate employees about marketing’s critical role within the organization — as brand steward and promoter … customer advocate  … collector and interpreter of market insight … etc. There are numerous internal marketing tools of engagement that can be used for marketing outreach and getting buy-in in for marketing initiatives.

Just like consumer or business-to-business marketing, internal marketing is not a once-and-done effort. It’s a long-term strategy that’s needed to build mutual trust, respect, and ongoing relationships between Marketing and the organization. Unless, of course, you want to be known as the “Department of Fluff.”


Customer service Engagement Marketing Training & Development

Best Quotes on Customers

Customers – love ’em or sometimes hate ’em – if you’re in business, you can’t live without them. True customer-focus means understanding, respecting, and serving customers as the basis of your business rather than considering them a necessary evil.

Following are several of my favorite quotes about customers and their importance. Think of them as customer-focused words to live by. You can also incorporate them in your customer service training.

“Consumers are statistics. Customers are people.” Stanley Marcus

“If you respect the customer as a human being, and truly honor their right to be treated fairly and honestly, everything else is much easier.” Doug Smith

“You can forget about an over-satisfied customer, but an unsatisfied customer is one of the most expensive problems you can have.” Jan Carlzon

“Anyone who thinks the customer is not important should try doing without him [or her].” Unknown

“It’s very easy to think that you are the expert on your own product. But in many ways, that’s a myth. The true experts are your customers.” Jamie Wong

“Customer feedback is free until you don’t listen, then it gets very expensive in the form of lawsuits, poor word-of-mouth advertising, and adverse publicity.” John O’Malley

“Isn’t it really ‘customer helping’ rather than customer service? And wouldn’t you deliver better service if you thought of it that way?” Jeffrey Gitomer

And when it comes to hiring and training the employees who serve customers:

“The customer-facing organization with the fewest assholes wins.” Olivier Blanchard



Engagement Marketing Training & Development

Best Job Ever! Reflecting on 2014

“To give your best is to receive the best … ” Raymond Holliwell

I’m fortunate to do work that I enjoy. This past year I had the opportunity to train managers how to strengthen employee engagement with internal marketing, facilitate planning retreats, and help marketing team members “get on the same page.” What’s most challenging is that each client presents a unique workplace culture and situation. The process of working with them to achieve positive outcomes in the context of their organizations is rewarding and a privilege I do not take lightly.

In addition to my client work, I met many fascinating folks at a variety of conferences. Highlights of this past year’s speaking engagements include:

  • Asomercadeo’s International Marketing Congress – I traveled to Medellin, Colombia, to share internal marketing practices with South American marketing colleagues.
  • BlogPaws – For the second time I participated in this special gathering of people who are passionate about animal welfare; my workshop there was designed to help rescue/shelter volunteers and staff better understand nonprofit marketing.
  • Volunteers in Medicine – I was truly inspired by this dedicated group of healthcare professionals and volunteers driven to improve health care access for the under-served and under-insured  in their local communities; in multiple sessions we discussed how to strengthen volunteer and board engagement.

Here’s to a new year of new opportunities and challenges and why it will be another successful year:

“The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can do well, and doing well whatever you do.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Hope you find similar success in 2015!


Engagement Marketing

Culture + Brand = Passion for Engagement: Volunteers in Medicine

The value of having a favorable brand is that it inspires public trust and confidence – the stronger the brand, the more likely people will associate with it. A most important contributor to brand strength, and one that is difficult to duplicate, is the organization’s culture.

“Over time … we ultimately came to the realization that a company’s culture and a company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin.”  Tony Hsieh

A strong culture and brand also support effective workplace engagement. Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) is a perfect example of this culture-brand-engagement relationship. With nearly 100 community clinics throughout the U.S., VIM’s mission is to “promote and guide the development of a national network of free clinics emphasizing the use of retired medical and community volunteers within a culture of caring to improve access to health care for America’s under-served, particularly the uninsured.”

Amy Hamlin, VIM Executive Director, with speaker Sybil Stershic
Amy Hamlin, VIM Executive Director, with speaker Sybil Stershic

I had the honor of working with this organization as a speaker at their Volunteers in Medicine Alliance Conference. Preparing for and participating in the conference, I was impressed by VIM’s Culture of Caring, a hallmark of its clinics and overall brand that appeals to patients, volunteers, and staff.

Volunteers in Medicine’s Culture of Caring is an approach:
based on an ethical standard in medicine acknowledging that how people are treated during a clinic visit is as important as the actual medical care they receive. We believe that people who come to a VIM clinic are our friends and neighbors, good people in need of help. Surviving on limited resources, they often exhibit great courage simply trying to get through each day. Recognizing the strengths of those in need and respecting their dignity, the ‘Culture of Caring’ seeks to heal not only physical illness, but also the injury caused by bias, prejudice and indifference.”

As the foundation of its mission and brand, this special culture enables VIM clinics to successfully attract, engage, and retain physician and medical volunteers, as well as administrative volunteers, by offering them high-impact, meaningful opportunities to:

  • serve people in need
  • in a patient-focused environment
  • and with greater scheduling flexibility and more control than in traditional healthcare settings.

The chance to “practice the art of medicine, not the business of healthcare” through its culture of caring to engage volunteers and staff is critical to VIM’s brand strength and sustainability — a winning formula for patients, VIM volunteers and staff, and the communities VIM serves.

How does your culture and brand impact your organization’s engagement with employees and customers?

Engagement Marketing

Summer Blog Break 2014

After an extremely busy six months of speaking engagements and client work, it’s time for my annual blog break. I find summer is the perfect time to clear my head, catch up on a backlog of reading (preferably outside in the sunshine), and stimulate new content marketing ideas.

This is only a temporary break from blogging. I’m working on several client and writing projects this summer and will continue to stay active on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media networks. Until I return to blogging in mid-late August, you can find many great current and archived posts on:

Have a happy and safe summer!

Marketing Training & Development

Marketing Animal Rescues & Shelters – BlogPaws 2014

One of the reasons I love my work is that I get to meet dedicated nonprofit professionals and volunteers eager to share their stories. They’re also eager to learn how to further their respective organization’s mission in the marketing workshops I teach.

The volunteers and employees from a variety animal rescues and shelters who attended my recent BlogPaws 2014 Conference session, Fundamentals of Nonprofit Marketing: Building Share of Mind & Heart for Your Rescue/Shelter were no exception. These people involved in animal welfare are most passionate and inspiring. While rescues/shelters benefit from showcasing cute and appealing animal images in their marketing and social media outreach (i.e., the “aww … ” factor), they face intense competition from other rescue/shelter groups doing the same. They also run the risk of “wearing out people’s compassion.”

Animal Rescue/Shelter Marketing Challenges

In their efforts to save animals and find them “furever” homes, animal welfare volunteers and employees are challenged with service demands that often exceed their resources. Yet they manage to do what they can to:

  • educate the public about animal welfare, including raising awareness of animal abuse
  • advocate for spay and neutering
  • obtain the necessary support of volunteers, pet foster parents, donors, veterinary assistance, community sponsors and partners
  • communicate via social media to support their special events and the important work they do.

Intentional Marketing

Like many nonprofit organizations, animal rescues/shelters strive to maximize their mission with minimal resources. With this mode of operation, marketing is often a casualty — ” Marketing? Who’s got time to do marketing?!” But being a well-kept secret won’t sustain an organization. That’s why building and maintaining brand awareness through marketing needs to be intentional, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It starts with understanding that each point of personal and/or media contact between the shelter, its stakeholders, and the market-at-large (e.g., every phone call, shelter visit, special event, email, letter, press release, Tweet, Facebook post, etc.) impacts the public’s perception of that shelter’s brand. Recognizing people’s individual and collective impact on the brand, intentional marketing then focuses on how best to ensure its brand contacts are as positive as possible.

Employees and volunteers who run animal rescues/shelters are already intentional in their commitment to help animals. By marketing intentionally as well, they’ll be able to continue their valuable work.

“Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.” —  John Muir


Marketing Training & Development

Is Your Recruiting Hurting Your Brand?

Talk about first impressions! Managers responsible for recruiting new employees have a significant impact on both the employer brand and their organization’s overall brand.

Here are two examples of how an ineffective recruiting experience – described by a potential candidate looking for work in the nonprofit sector – resulted in a negative brand impression. [Note: I’ve heard similar job applicant horror stories in the for-profit sector as well. ]

Example #1. “I had a telephone interview for a grant writer position in an arts-related organization. It was clear during the interview that the supervisor had no interviewing skills — she did not seem to know what she wanted to ask, nor could she process my responses. She was very busy concentrating on what to say next rather than evaluating my answers. Mid-way through the interview she sighed with exasperation and said she had no idea how to talk with me because I was not ‘part of the art world.’  At the conclusion of the interview the HR person asked if I would be available for an onsite interview, and I said yes. I never heard from them again.”

Example #2. “In my experience with another organization, the telephone interview was a fiasco. Three people on a speaker phone interviewed me; I could barely hear one of them and was never quite sure who was speaking.  The first question asked why I had applied for the position. My response addressed the unique combination of duties, appeal of the variety of work involved, etc. When I finished my response they told me they were no longer certain that the position would be structured as posted. They then asked a series of narrowly focused questions that indicated very clearly that they had not read my resume or that they were incapable of shaping the questions to elicit additional information. At the conclusion of the interview, the convener told me that additional interviews were being scheduled the following week and that he would be in touch ‘either way.’ Two months passed and I received an email from him saying they had decided to put the position on hold while they reviewed and possibly revised the position’s responsibilities.”

Bottom line brand impact

The job candidate had previously worked in HR. Here’s what she had to say about her experiences with the two organizations that interviewed her:

“As a former HR and management professional, I am appalled at the ridiculous turn the interview process has apparently taken. I am struck dumb by how little regard or understanding these folks have of their role as brand slayers. They seem completely unaware of the fact that an interview is not a one-way street.  While they are asking questions and making some attempt to assess the applicant, the applicant is gaining a great deal of insight into the nature of the organization and the people who inhabit it!  My respect for these organizations is diminished, my interest in supporting them in any way is erased, and my new and distinctly negative view of their capacity is going to be a topic of conversation for some time to come.”

Do the people who recruit and interview potential employees for your organization understand how their actions affect perceptions of your employer and external brand?