Creative Marketing Solutions: Fresh, Effective Strategies for Attracting Clients and Customers from Marcia Yudkin
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Everyone You Employ Must Be a Marketer

by Marcia Yudkin

Whether it's the grumpy receptionist, the clerk who wouldn't give you the discount because you forgot your coupon or the representative who blames the problem on your stupidity, you've undoubtedly experienced incidents where an employee makes a bad impression - so bad you think about switching to their competitor. You wouldn't want that to happen to 
your customers, now would you?

When you harness the creativity and commitment of everyone in your employ, so that they feel at least partly responsible for attracting and keeping customers, you'll see a spike in revenues and profits. Here are some specific measures that help accomplish that.

1. Educate employees. Figure out the annual or lifetime value of a customer, and convey that figure to all who interact with customers. If staff understand the concept of "everyone a marketer" intellectually but don't change their behavior, you probably have a serious morale problem that is causing big-time leakage from your bottom line. It may be time to bring in consultants for diagnosis and remedies.

2. Instill pride and reward professionalism. Praise people who reflect well on the company when they do their job, by driving company vans courteously, by shoveling snow and ice off the store's sidewalk before being asked, by performing extra callbacks to customers who'd had a problem, to be sure it was resolved to their satisfaction. During employee 
evaluations, ask people to tell you how they have contributed to the organization's positive image.

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3. Create an opportunity alert system. Implement a system that enables front-line employees to pass along ideas for better satisfying customers or capitalizing on new needs. Many companies reward every such suggestion with a twenty-dollar bill. Others bestow Employee-of-the-Month recognition on those taking such initiative.

4. Enable employees to become walking billboards. Since it could be taken to show lack of confidence in American-made cars, one U.S. car manufacturer discouraged employees from parking foreign cars visibily in its plant parking lot. A more positive step in this direction is making it possible for staff to wear clothing imprinted with the company logo, to tote stuff to the beach in company-imprinted bags and to sip coffee from insulated company mugs on fishing trips.

5. Empower employees to solve problems. Often a "Marketing isn't my job" attitude stems from employees lacking the latitude to take creative actions that solve problems quickly enough to secure high customer satisfaction. Employee focus groups will let you know what changes, if 
any, are needed to foster a climate where people go beyond the call of duty to smooth the way for customer delight.

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6. Implement a system for suggestions and feedback from customers. When I was a kid, most businesses had a suggestion box. It's the exception now, but I believe every business needs a highly visible method of soliciting feedback. It remains an important vehicle for correcting problems, making adjustments and preventing dissatisfaction from creating lost customers and negative word of mouth.

Copyright 2001 Marcia Yudkin.  All rights reserved. 

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