I have worked for brands where huge teams were involved in a product launch and the customer proposition, advertising strategy, creative approach, targeting and the press release were all planned to the minutest detail. But for many, once that press release was issued, the demand generation campaign went out the door or the product was on the shelf, that was it. Job done. On to the next one.
But what about the people who make the sale to the customer? At what stage are they briefed on the rationale behind the campaign that they are expected to talk about when customers ask? Where are the details that underpin the thought leadership – or is it hoped that they will read the same newspapers and customer collateral as customers? How many times have you as a consumer spoken to a customer service centre and realised you know more than the person on the other end of the phone?
I was chatting to a friend over Christmas who told a different story about his brand. They had been the subject of a Watchdog-style TV programme and the chief executive had gone to great lengths in the run-up to the show going on air to brief his employees on what to expect and to reassure them that the story was not representative of their company. I applaud this approach, not least as it is so rare. The businesses I have worked with often bury their heads in the sand and hope that no one will watch the programme, then come up with a host of excuses if tackled about it after the event.
I urge everyone to make a New Year’s resolution to involve their employees in marketing activity – share your plan with them, brief them on announcements before they read it in the newspaper, and give them more information than can be gleaned from the usual customer channels.