A harsh reality facing business owners is that their employees aren't always as excited about new marketing efforts as they are.
You've hired a marketing agency and are ready to kick your campaigns into high gear. While you may be imagining slick marketing campaigns, massive profit increases and worldwide brand awareness, your staff might be imagining a sinking ship that they can’t get off of quick enough (cue Céline Dion).
There are a lot of reasons why someone might not be jazzed to have a marketing team come in and launch a new campaign. Some people are just change-adverse; others worry that new marketing could mean they will end up with more work, needing to learn a different skill set, or just generally make their life more difficult. And some have watched too many episodes of Nathan For You to put full trust in the process. We can’t help those people.
While your employees’ attitudes toward marketing are ultimately up to each individual, there are a number of ways to build internal consensus and excitement around your organization's marketing efforts.
Why Does It Matter if My Employees Are on Board with Our Marketing Plan?
If you’re thinking to yourself, “I don’t care if they love or hate our marketing plan, it’s not their decision,” you’re forgetting about the power of shared internal brand values.
If your employees don’t buy-in to what you’re selling, why should your customers? If your employees aren’t unified in their understanding and communication of brand values, how will they exemplify them when they are representing your organization?
Your employees are brand ambassadors, whether you like it or not. Because your team is representing your organization, it’s crucial that you don’t underestimate the power that internal buy-in and a shared internal vision has on your external marketing.
Let Them Envision the Personal Value Marketing Will Bring Them
A common objection we hear from internal team members who are skeptical about new marketing is that it will negatively impact their daily workflow, with no incentive for them bearing the burden of the change.
As business owners, you’re likely thinking about high level outcomes – increased sales, increased profits, or increased brand awareness. However, your staff may be thinking specifically about outcomes that relate directly to them: how much more work will this add to my already overloaded to-do list? What new processes and skills will I be forced to learn to make this marketing campaign go off without a hitch?
These are valid concerns, and ones that must be confronted in order to get employee buy-in – especially if new marketing will change workflow, workload, and processes.
Put yourself in your employees’ shoes: what would make new marketing exciting, or at least acceptable, for you?
If you anticipate your marketing will increase sales, and therefore profits, you could explain how increased profits from a successful campaign will trickle down to employees (A bonus? More resources to help them successfully do their job? Office perks?).
If there are no immediate plans to use profits to the direct benefit of employees, you can appeal to their sense of professional accomplishment by explaining they will be playing a crucial role in the growth and success of the company, and that everyone’s help is needed to see the outcomes you’re aiming for.
Let Them Feel like Experts…
Every employee has insight and experience that can be used to shape marketing efforts.
Whether it’s a customer service rep that hears the complaints customers are sharing or a fulfillment associate who understands just what is needed to get an order out the door and to the customer, gathering intel from employees can serve a dual purpose: on one hand, you’ll gather insight used to help determine strategy and tactics with marketing. On the other hand, your staff will feel like their experience and knowledge is playing an important role in the marketing – giving them more of a personal connection to the marketing activities.
To gather intel, decide first what information you need. Insight into their daily activities? A listen in to conversations they are having with customers? Answers to more specific questions you have?
Based on the information you need, the size of your team and the number of employees you will be sourcing information from, you’ll need to figure out how to collect it. Whether you set up a team meeting, send a digital survey, or just have informal conversations with individual employees, you’ll want to make sure you can gather the information you need in a way that allows each employee to best share their perspective.
…And That They Have a Voice
If you can’t encourage buy-in by explaining a personal benefit they’ll receive or by allowing them to feel like experts, give them a way to feel a personal connection to the marketing process.
There are ways to make employees feel like they have a voice in the marketing process. For example, you can ask customer-facing team members to anticipate how their clients would respond to new marketing copy.
A word of caution on this one: soliciting these types of opinions on marketing initiatives won’t work for every organization, and has the potential to backfire. It’s possible that feelings will be hurt if marketing decisions don’t mirror the opinions expressed by your team, or that so many opinions will be shared that it will be difficult to parse out what’s useful and what’s not. Give careful consideration to how your team may react if their opinions aren't included in the final product before soliciting their thoughts.
For employees that wouldn’t be able to participate in providing feedback about upcoming initiatives, encourage them to be active brand ambassadors on social media (be sure you have a social media policy and guidelines in place before doing this!). By sharing company announcements, or even “day in the life” photos around the office, on social media, your employees will feel like they have a fun and personal stake in marketing. Be sure to give their posts a “like” or “retweet” to encourage them to stay active!
The blunt truth is that holdouts happen. Much like your uncle who wants to get into a political debate during Thanksgiving dinner (why must we do this on Thanksgiving of all days?!), there are some minds you won’t be able to change. While you may not be able to please everyone, if you can get majority buy-in, you’ll be in a good position to move forward with marketing efforts with gusto.