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Who's in marketing?

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  • | 6:04 p.m. February 12, 2010
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When you hire a marketing manager, what qualities will you be seeking?

Understanding press release preparation and media relations might be a start. Ability to create and manage a website, along with creative use of the internet, would be good. If the candidate could handle advertising copy and graphic composition, that's terrific. Strengths to plan and execute promotional corporate events would also be helpful.

The ins and outs
Frankly, for my money, I would be seeking a proclivity to identify and program to each of the important audiences of the enterprise. You would certainly want to start internally by reaching your own staff. I would be looking for “depth” in the selection of a marketing director. Rather than a “technician” marketer with a “manager's” function and outlook, I would seek a “motivator” with a “leader's” function and outlook. I would want a professional who focuses on both “internal” and “external” communication; one who would be excited to formulate a strategic culture — shaping for the entire enterprise.

William Bemis, author of “Services Marketing”, suggests that the main different between marketing managers and marketing leaders is fundamental: The manager administers, the leader innovates. The manager maintains, the leader develops. The manager relies on systems, the leader relies on people. The manager counts on control, the leader counts on expanding minds.

If you are a mid-size or larger professional services Gulf Coast enterprise — builder, law firm, financial advisor, architect, CPA, community bank, commercial real estate or insurance — you want a marketing director that turns your entire staff into a marketing whirlwind!

An open door
Marketing should never be just a “nameplate” on a door. That would imply that everything that has to do with the flow of services from creation through consumption and beyond, starts within those four walls; that's just wrong! If you tend to agree with the concept that good solid marketing should be forthcoming and produced throughout the organization, consider where it might be found.

Here are a few examples. You'll think of others as you involve more back — office personnel in your program. Let's start with perhaps one of the most unlikely places to expect solid professional services marketing. It's the accounting department! Could that group really be involved in good creative marketing? You bet!
Imagine receiving a detailed invoice from your legal firm with internal detailed cost of each mailing, postage, photocopy, messenger serving document fee processing and long distance, department codes attached to staff names and functions you don't know. The invoice is itemized by quarter-hour and is two pages in length. Your reaction? Acid reflux!

Now, think of that same invoice; this time you see first and last names of staff with titles so you can easily recognize your attorney is using lower cost assistants when possible. Small dollar items are bulked together and summarized. The invoice is one page and is an end-of-month tally. A few explanations even have an “n.c.” (no charge) notation to short length calls from client. You're reaction? Nice guy! There might even be a personal notation with your name, saying that the firm is honored to have you as a client and promises to do everything humanly possible to make you proud of your decision in seeking their representation. That's just a small example of accounting being a part of marketing.

Let's talk
Let's talk about a builder's well groomed technician or delivery man wearing a corporate logo on his neatly pressed shirt making a service call to your home. He calls from 30 minutes out to give advance notice that he'll be right on time. From his discussion and actions in your home you feel confident.

On his way out, he looks you in the eye and says something like: “You know, we've been together for some time. This is not just another structure to us. We know we're creating a special life style for you. We really do appreciate your business. If at any time you have a need we can fill or if you're unhappy about anything, we want you to call us. And, if you're really happy, call your friends and tell them!” That relationship is not just “delivery and repair”. It's not just home building, it's relationship building. And that's marketing.

Then there's your reception desk, where marketing really starts. Imagine a conversation, like: “I'm sorry Mr. Client, he's not picking up”. Then, “Let me see if I can find him. If I do, he'll call you right back. Otherwise, I'll call you so you don't have to wait by the phone. I know he'll want to talk with you”. That's not just the front desk; that's a marketing desk.

How about a personal telephone call from your favorite teller at your local Community Bank: “Mr. Client this is Mary Jane, cashier at Gimmy Community Bank.
You are a Preferred Client with us. Just wanted to give you some advanced information that we're now offering a higher rate of interest on your everyday checking account. You'll see our ads in about 30 days. No minimums. No penalties. Do it for a day or longer. Can I tell you how it works or can I send you a brochure?”
That's not a cashier call. That's a marketing call!

The final word
Marketing a performance is not the same as marketing an object. While the differences are many, in product marketing, the emphasis is on branding individual tangible “things”! In services marketing, it's on branding the intangible enterprise. In product marketing, marketers seek brand loyalty primarily through product competitive advantages and non-personal means. In services, the goal is relationships; and, customized, tailored personal contact.

Service quality is the foundation for this specialized type of performance. High quality service gives credibility to the advertising and the enterprises' public relations. It stimulates favorable word of mouth communications, enhances customers' perception of value and boosts the morale and loyalty of both customers and employees.

Take time right now to specifically outline in writing where you want your marketing leader to take your own Gulf Coast enterprise. Consider programming to reach and evaluate each of your audiences and stakeholders: employees, recruitment, investors, the trade, the community, suppliers, clients (present, future and former), government, the bank and more. You'll quickly realize why the scope of the programming takes so many internal service professionals to reach and influence the many audiences who need and perhaps, who want to be reached.

Next time you're asked: “Who's in marketing at your enterprise?” You'll be confident in answering — everyone!

Lou Lasday creates action-oriented strategic marketing initiatives for Gulf Coast emerging companies. He has been a general partner of an Ad Age Top 100 marketing communications firm and regional president of the American Marketing Association. He can be reached at [email protected]


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