Best Companies Don’t Need Marketing

August 5, 2010

Interesting set of articles on Inc’s Magazine June Edition “Inside America’s Best Run Companies”, showing how the best small business companies run and the perks and benefits they have to attract and retain top talent. Take for example the following stats mentioned in the magazine:

  • 75% of companies offer educational assistance to its employees
  • 83% of companies practice open-book management
  • 28% of companies pay 100% of employees costs for health insurance
  • 95% of companies offer flexible work arrangements

On top of that, they highlight some of the nicest perks some companies offer, like:

  • On-site pickup and return of clothes that need laundering (McGraw Wentworth)
  • Subsidized meals delivered at employee’s desk (
  • Two weeks of full-paid leave to work for a nonprofit (Patagonia)
  • $5,000 spending money if you travel abroad plus one extra week vacation (LoadSpring)
  • Professional cleaners go to your home every two weeks, at no cost to employee (Akraya)

If you come from the typical 9 to 5 job where being there is what is expected and you look forward to vacations like a prisoner eager for his 1 hour outside in the patio, then the list above is nothing short of a paradise. The reality is, more and more companies are adopting practices like these (especially telecommuting and flex hours) because technology is such that not only allows you to do it, but makes you more productive.

But companies don’t offer these nice perks just because they are run by nice people. They offer them because the market for talent is fierce. Finding and retaining the best people has always been a challenge, no matter your industry. When you have a little bit extra to offer, being that the free lunch or whatever, you are a step above the competition. And the word gets around and your hiring costs are reduced because people are now finding you for a change.

The best marketing ends up being what the employees tell their friends about their companies. How they like (or don’t like) the perks, and when magazines like Inc pick that up and write a story.


What Type of Marketer Are You?

May 18, 2010

After interviewing many marketers for different positions at my company and meeting marketing professionals regularly at events, I came to the conclusion that there are two types of marketers:

  • Passionate Marketers
  • Job Marketers

The first group is comprised of those that, as the name suggests, have a real passion for marketing. They read about marketing, they talk about marketing outside work, they go to events and try to educate themselves. They often participate in discussion forums and might even have a blog. Everyone in the family knows they do marketing, friends ask them for some advice and they often times talk to telemarketers trying to sell newspaper subscriptions at eight o’ clock at night because they think it’s fun. Telemarketers often regret the call because the passionate marketer keeps analyzing their sales pitch instead of buying something.

Job Marketers are, unfortunately, the majority out there. I’m not sure whether it starts in school, their first full time paying job or it’s just the way they are. This bunch sees marketing only as a job. If they were offered more money to create TPS reports they would switch to doing it in a heartbeat. Outside work they don’t want to check out a blogabout the newest lead nurturing technology, or fly out to attend a marketing conference. They see these activities as “work” and as such, shouldn’t be performed after 5:29pm.

Funny thing is, Passionate Marketers are not necessarily better at marketing than Job Marketers. Both can be very effective at what they do.However, from what I’ve seen, passion makes some rise quicker through the ranks and get accolades, while the simply “employed”stay for years at the same company and position because, hey, that’s just a job.

When hiring someone for a marketing position, it’s important to know these different types exist. Hiring marketing people is tough enough as it is, one has to understand the type of person they need for each specific position. If you want a marketing assistant that will be still with you 30 years from now, a Job Marketer may be just what you need. Who do I want to work with? Passionate Marketers. From interns to the VP. Not that the other group wouldn’t be fun (after all this is a characteristic about how they feel towards marketing in their careers, not their personalities), but when you have people who are passionate about what they do, it tends to rub off and the whole team benefits. We need more people who are passionate about what they do.

What type of marketer are you?

Is Your Brand Trustworthy?

May 16, 2009

This week I attended an event put together by the American Marketing Association (AMA), Tampa Bay Chapter, in which Todd Taylor, Area Director for FranklinCovey, was giving a presentation on  “The Speed of Trust”. The presentation was based on the new book by the same name, authored by Stephen M. R. Covey, the son of famous author of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen R. Covey.

I haven’t read the book, but the content of the presentation was interesting and provided some food for thought. The premise is that people do business with companies they trust. Employees are more productive if they work in an environment that feels trustworthy. Company’s costs go down when trust is rampant throughout the organization, and customers come back to do more business with you if they feel they can trust you.

Here are some of the main ideas behind The Speed of Trust:

Five Waves of Trust

Trust is like a drop in the water that creates waves reaching out, ever expanding. This is the core message from Covey’s trust theory, described as 5 waves of trust:

  1. Self: the confidence we have in ourselves, how we set and achieve our goals, our ability to inspire trust in others.
  2. Relationship: our behavior towards the people we interact with (spouse, co-workers, friends, etc.) and our ability to expand trust to the other people in our lives.
  3. Organization: this is how leaders can generate trust throughout the organization, how people interact during work and the impact trust has throughout the company. This is a key principle for managers, on how they lead their teams and inspiring them.
  4. Market: your organization’s reputation in the market as a trustworthy company to do business with.
  5. Societal: contributions you and your company make to the community and the world.

For a great overview, check out the video below.

Four Cores of Credibility

These are the four factors that create credibility:

  • Integrity: honesty, if you act according to your values
  • Intent: your motives, your agenda
  • Capabilities: the abilities we have that inspire confidence
  • Results: our track record, our history of accomplishments

It’s interesting to note these four “cores of credibility”, as Covey calls them, and look back at why people do business with you or your company. Better yet, think about the people YOU trust and why is that so. That mechanic you take your car to because he’s the only one that you feel will give you the correct diagnosis and pricing. The accountant you go to when you need to get your taxes done. Why do we trust people? The “four cores” above are the summary of what we go through as we think of trust.

Thirteen Behaviors

As if five waves and four cores weren’t enough, we’re given 13 behaviors. These are the behaviors that trustworthy people follow and that you should too if you want to increase your ‘trust index’.

1. Talk Straight
2. Demonstrate Respect
3. Create Transparency
4. Right Wrongs
5. Show Loyalty
6. Deliver Results
7. Get Better
8. Confront Reality
9. Clarify Expectations
10. Practice Accountability
11. Listen First
12. Keep Commitments
13. Extend Trust

Seems obvious, right? But are you really behaving in a trustworthy manner? And how can you influence your team, your department, your company to start practicing these behaviors? This is the question you should be asking yourself.

Marketing Trust

As marketers, we tell stories. Our stories are told via our website, our emails, our presentations, our product collateral, and with every other customer touchpoint. By understanding how trust is created, disseminated, and by practicing the thirteen behaviors in our campaigns (honoring opt-out requests, being upfront about product shortcomings, being honest in the description of product features, etc.) we can positively impact our company’s business.

Helpful links

Some helpful links for those interested in learning more about the “Speed of Trust” book and concepts:

Effective Marketer Principle 8: Say “We” rather than “I”

February 6, 2009

“Think and say we” is Drucker’s advice. There are two good lessons here, one being that you should earn the trust of your team and you can only do that if they see that you are not going to go at it alone without giving them any consideration. It is also a good reminder of the great art of delegation, which is getting work done through others.

The marketing manager that thinks in terms of “we” will get more accomplished because he will be:

  • Sharing with the team the vision and direction of the company and of the department
  • Sharing with the team the marketing plan for the year and the goals for each campaign
  • Asking the team for feedback, ideas, and criticism
  • Giving feedback to the team on what they are doing right and what needs to be improved – Sharing with the company the successes the team as a whole has achieved
  • Trusting the team to make the right choices at difficult moments and allowing them to make mistakes along the way
  • Giving each team member additional responsibilities so they can learn and grow as professionals
  • Taking on more responsibilities and important projects now that he can share with the team the burden of ensuring successThink We Rather than I

A final, bonus if you will, lesson from Peter Drucker’s insightful article is about the art of listening. He says “listen first, speak last”. Good listeners will be better at understanding what needs to get done and will be more effective. So if you are ready to becoming an effective marketer, master these 8 principles (see previous posts for the other seven principles) and you will be one step ahead of the competition.

The road to effectiveness is not an easy one, but is definitely a rewarding journey.

Effective Marketer Principle 5: Take Responsibility for Communicating

January 17, 2009

To get things done you need to communicate, ensuring the team is aware of the plan, deadlines, and expected results. Effective managers in general are good at taking the responsibility of communicating their decisions to the organization, ensuring everyone is on board and aware of what will happen. As you discuss the plan of action with your team and with the stakeholders (see previous post), you are also getting buy-in for carrying out the tasks. In marketing is especially important to ensure that the company as a whole is aware of what is being done. Marketing, after all, affects every part of the organization.

In big companies as well as in small ones Marketing can oftentimes be considered a necessary expense, the department where money gets spent without consideration and where results are difficult to be measured. If this looks familiar to you, then you need to start practicing Principle 5 of the effective marketer and start communicating what you do, why you do it, and how it impacts everyone.Communicate the Marketing Plan

As the marketing plans are shared with the rest of the company, and details on why each campaign or activity is being carried out together with their expected impact on operations and sales, the reason for marketing and why we have this department should become clear. Marketing is not just a concentrated effort from the staff in that department, it should be part of every employee’s responsibility. The business cards that are presented to partners and potential customers are part of marketing branding, the message being delivered about what the company does is tailored and perfected by marketing, the collateral material that is distributed and that sales people use at trade shows and site visits is also marketing, of course. Therefore an understanding of what this all means, why each piece is important and knowing it is part of an overall strategy helps when delivering the message(s).

The principle of communicating also applies to ensuring the marketing manager gives the necessary information to others in the company to get their jobs done. Sales, finance, operations, shipping, each department manager needs specific information that will help them do their jobs. The effective marketer knows what information they need and provides it to them (market intelligence will help sales, packaging and placement are needed for shipping, cost per lead and campaign ROI will make the CFO happy). This shows that marketing is involved in almost every aspect of a company’s operations.

Learn how, when, and to whom communicate, and you will learn how to gain support to carry out the marketing plan.

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