Engagement Marketing Training & Development

2006: Recognizing A Special Anniversary

This new year is a very special one: 2006 marks the beginning of my 18th year in business as Quality Service Marketing.

Most small business statistics cite the first five years as being critical for survival, which is the reason I celebrate my business anniversary in five year increments.  But the number 18 has special significance for me – in Hebrew numerology, it represents “life.”  So I wanted to recognize this special year by acknowledging:

  • My clients (past & present) – I’ve enjoyed working with all of you, and it’s been an honor to serve you over the years, helping you with internal marketing & communications, marketing & strategic planning, and marketing & customer-focused training.
  • Special thanks to my long term relationships with Peg Portz & Jim Brown at Lehigh University’s Office of Distance Education; Pat Lawless at the Northeast PA Area Health Education Center; Ned Boehm at Keystone College; and Pat Goodrich, Lynn Brown & the rest of AMA’s professional development staff.
  • My colleagues – I’m fortunate to have a truly incredible network of marketing professionals & mentors whom I’ve relied on since starting QSM.  Time & space preclude me from mentioning everyone who’s helped me, but I need to acknowledge a number of special advisers (in no particular order): Frank Haas, Chris Bonney, Alan Kay, Toby Bloomberg, Len Berry, Steve Brown, Mike McDermott, Bill & Carolyn Neal, and Linda McAleer (she may not remember, but she helped convince me to start my business).  Special thanks, also, to my colleagues who continue to help make QSM look good: Glenn Wampole of Waitz Corporation and John Bartorillo & AJ Zambetti of Maslow Lumia Bartorillo Advertising.
  • Last (but certainly not least), my family and inspiration – my devoted husband, Michael (who’s still waiting for me to define success beyond professional & personal fulfillment. He loves to say, “Show me the money!”), and my wonderful son (and technological adviser), Jason.  I also need to acknowledge my mother, Ruth Fischman – a retired English & journalism teacher, who is still there for me when I need help with my writing.

Thanks to all for helping me reach this milestone 18th anniversary.  I couldn’t have done it without you!

Engagement Marketing Training & Development

Internal Marketing’s Ultimate Question

I had the privilege again this summer of serving as an Executive Visitor at the Iacocca Institute’s Global Village for Future Leaders of Business & Industry at Lehigh University.  And my topic was (drum roll … ): internal marketing – the importance of taking care of employees so they can take care of customers. Specifically:

  • Why organizations need to be employee-focused and customer-focused
  • What managers need to do to gain employee commitment to organizational goals
  • How managers can strengthen employee-customer relationships.

It’s a delight to share internal marketing with such an energetic & enthusiastic group.  Regardless of where the Global Village interns were from (including Sweden, Austria, Singapore, Canada, South Africa, Puerto Rico, Israel, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Hong Kong, and the U.S., to name a few of their home countries), they quickly grasped the concept of internal marketing.  In each session, someone asked the ultimate question: “If internal marketing is so basic, why don’t more companies do it?”

A simple question with no easy answer

The best explanation I could come up with, given our limited time together, was to remind them that internal marketing is really an issue of leadership & values … evident in organizations who truly care about both their customers AND the employees who take care of them.

Yes, unfortunately, there are companies out there who only give “lip service” to valuing their employees (as mentioned in numerous posts throughout my blog).  And there are managers who feel they don’t need internal marketing – the ones who presume “I wouldn’t be where I am today if I wasn’t doing something right!”  (Hmm, I wonder what their staff and customer turnover is like?)

What I learned the hard way

So I shared what I learned a long time ago in my business.  The companies who need me the most are not the ones who hire me because they’re clueless when it comes to internal marketing.  While the challenge they present might entice some consultants, I no longer waste the time & energy to sell them on the concept when they just don’t get it.

I’d rather focus my time on helping my clients – those who recognize internal marketing’s value and are committed to doing something about it, as well as those already doing internal marketing who want to do it even better.  In other words, I don’t have to sell them on internal marketing because they already get it.  It’s why I love working with them.

Engagement Marketing Training & Development

Internal Marketing’s Critical Connections (Part 1)

Internal marketing’s focus on valuing both customers and the employees who serve them requires strengthening three critical connections:

  • Connecting the employee to the organization
  • Connecting the employee within the organization
  • Connecting employees with customers.

This post begins a series on each connection, starting with connecting employees to their organization through orientation (for new employees) and constant communication (for all employees).  This establishes and reinforces employees’ fit in the scope of the organization (“big picture”) and what’s expected of them in helping the organization fulfill its mission & goals.

Becoming a Part of the Organization

Orientation’s role is to educate the new employee about:

  • The organization – its mission, values, goals, how it operates, where it’s going, etc. 
  • The specific job function – answering the employee’s questions on “What do I do & how do I do it? How will I be evaluated?” etc.
  • The industry in general – this is important for giving new employees a broader perspective by addressing how the organization is positioned within its industry; who its partners and competitor are; and trends (positive or threatening) that can impact the organization and its industry. (Unfortunately, this component of orientation – connecting employees to the “big picture” –  is often ignored.)

Starting off right

Starbucks‘ CEO Howard Schultz greets all new hires via video in which he shares the company’s history & culture, what it stands for, and where it’s going … he refers to this critical time as the “imprinting period of the new employee.”

Eat’nPark, a Pittsburgh-based restaurant chain, focuses on making new employees feel truly welcome.  Before a new hire starts in one of their restaurants, the manager circulates a “Welcome to the Team” card to be signed by staff.  This card includes a post-it note with brief information about the new team member – the person’s name, job position, and a fun-fact about the person’s hobbies or interests.  The welcome card works on several levels: it makes the new person feel welcome, facilitates communication between the new hire and current staff, and helps minimize some of the initial awkwardness of everyone getting to know each other.


Evaluating Orientation

After new employees complete their orientation, don’t forget to get their feedback in formal or informal evaluations.  A great question to ask employees after they’ve been on the job for a period of time (six weeks, three months, or longer) is “What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started?”

To be continued: my next post will address the communications aspect of this connection.

Engagement Marketing Training & Development

Internal Marketing Fundamentals – Gaining Employee Commitment (Part 1 of 3)

In my initial post, I promised to share what’s involved in internal marketing, a concept focused on employee & customer care.  Remember, if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.

The foundation of internal marketing is based on what I call the ‘3 Rs’ of gaining employee commitment:

  • Respect – give people the tools to do their jobs
  • Recognition – catch them do something right
  • Reinforcement – continually support a customer-focused culture.

This week I’ll start a series on each of the 3 Rs & how they underscore internal marketing.

1st R: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

An organization respects its employees when it gives them the tools & info they need to do their jobs.  This involves communication, training, and empowerment.

Communication – people need to know what their organization stands for & what it’s all about (= mission), what its goals & objectives area, and what’s expected of them in helping to achieve these goals; i.e., how they fit in “the big picture.”

How can people be expected to contribute to an organization if they don’t know where it’s going and what’s expected of them in helping it get there?

Unfortunately, this type of communication is overlooked — it gets mentioned a few times and is assumed to be understood. So managers need to find ways to constantly reinforce employees’ fit in the organization, including explaining how their works contributes to customer satisfaction & the bottom line.  (Substitute “stakeholder satisfaction & mission fulfillment” here for nonprofits.)

Training – respect also means helping employees develop/enhance relevant job skills.  This includes:

  • training on how to do a specific job;
  • orientation to your organization and industry (it’s surprising how often the latter is ignored);
  • product knowledge training (features & benefits of your firm’s offerings);
  • interpersonal communications skills + customer relations skills training (also assumed);
  • and other ‘soft’ but important training like supervisory & management development.

And finally, respect means Empowerment – giving staff the latitude & authority to take care of customers (as well as other employees) without having to stop to ask permission every step of the way.

An easy way to remember Respect in this context is “explaining, training, and refraining” — explaining where employees fit in the organization & what’s expected of them … training them to do their jobs … then refraining from getting in their way.

It’s a no-brainer: employees who are properly equipped to do their jobs can better serve customers.


How does your organization demonstrate respect for employees?  Feel free to share your comments in response to this post.

And stay tuned for my next post on Recognition.