Are You Optimizing Employee Insights for Your B2B Marketing?

optimizingImagine a culture where everyone in the company looks out for the brand; regularly sharing insights about prospects/clients, powerful testimonials, success stories, or details about why a deal was won (or lost). Imagine the power in that.

In order for that to happen, employees need to be engaged in the marketing mission.

How many employees (particularly in mid-to-large sized companies) do you think are asked to help the marketing department with client/prospect insights, competitive intelligence or ideas for relevant content themes? How many marketers meet regularly with front-line staff to get their perspective?

My guess is most companies are not effective at leveraging employees to build a marketing strategy or validate ideas.

Who better (besides prospects and clients) to help the marketing department understand the competitive landscape, sales process, buyer attributes/mindset/pain points, and client perceptions than employees who are out there selling, serving and building?  Employees in the trenches have a wealth of knowledge about the industry landscape and what’s top-of-mind for prospects or clients; and often have powerful stories, insights and ideas that could be leveraged for marketing efforts. If you are not talking to a variety of employees regularly, and creating a social environment where everyone participates in the marketing efforts of the company — you could be missing out on a huge opportunity to transform your marketing.

Therefore, consider a strategy where everyone participates in the process of sharing and distributing intelligence that: a) validates your company’s brand promise; b) reveals critical motivators, barriers, pain points or issues for your audiences; c) contributes to the marketing planning process; and d) even informs content angles and copy points, for example…

  • Wouldn’t it be fantastic if a salesperson that has a great meeting with a prospect…shares why it was so great…and reveals some new and exciting insights from which the entire organization can benefit?
  • What if a new customer were oozing compliments to an employee they work closely with – wouldn’t it be exciting to capture and share that on the spot? Or to ask that customer if they would like to be on the company’s Testimonial Content Committee (for possible inclusion in a case study or video)?

 
If this concept is of interest, one practical and easy approach could be to set up your Intranet in a way that creates the opportunity for sharing, transparency and dialogue. Perhaps build a portal that opens the communication flow between the marketing department and employee base. A centralized portal can be used to provide:

  1. Details about the marketing strategy and key initiatives
  2. Access to dashboards that show media coverage, campaign results, conversion metrics, content consumption on the web, increases in Twitter followers and Linkedin connections, blog comments and brand impressions
  3. Documentation on research findings, messaging frameworks, brand and communication guidelines, and social media policies.

 
An even more powerful way to engage employees so that everyone can be part of the marketing machine, could be to provide transparency into key marketing challenges and needs while offering employees the opportunity to share their advice and insights on a regular basis, and to maybe even take part in the marketing planning process or execution of tactics. Try giving them an outline of what you want their help with, some context for why, some guidelines for how — and see what happens. You can always revise your approach if you are not getting meaningful input.

Examples for practical applications of this concept:

1. Sample Intranet home page

sample-intranet

2. Solving marketing challenges

Marketing Need #1: You want to create a calendar of steady blog posts.

  • How Employees Could Help: Let employees know you are developing ideas for themes and concepts. Not only could they contribute ideas, but some might be willing and able to draft one or two posts.

 
Marketing Need #2:  You need fresh examples to prove a component of the brand’s value proposition, e.g. the claim that “we are a world-class firm and offer the best customer service in the industry”.

  • How Employees Could Help: Ask employees for reasons to believe this claim is true — let them know you’re looking for as many proof points as possible to validate the value proposition on an ongoing basis. Tell them “anytime you have a great anecdote about our service, people, platform from a prospect, client, industry partner, affiliate or the media….please share it!”

 
Marketing Need #3: You want to refresh your existing messaging framework with new angles/hooks by target audience and buying stage.

  • How Employees Could Help: Front-line employees have their finger on the pulse at all times, so it’s a good idea to probe regularly for their ideas on new ways of talking to clients and prospects (down to the level of the best words and phrases to consider for each buyer persona).

 
Also — consider inviting employees to test messaging; provide input on website enhancements or visual treatments of content; and/or consider having regular contests to get compelling ideas, e.g. for blog posts, group discussion topics on Linkedin, subject lines for emails or tag lines.

The point is: Creative and smart people are everywhere, and if you are not tapping into the valuable insights and perspectives of employees across your organization on a regular basis, you may be missing out on some brilliant marketing insights and opportunities. It’s not to say that internal feedback is the only path to meaningful insights, but it is certainly one worth optimizing. And if you combine employee insights/feedback with client surveys/research, industry benchmarking, key marketing metrics and data analysis…oh my, how practical is that?

Lydia Vogtner

By : Lydia Vogtner

Lydia Vogtner is an independent B2B marketing and communications consultant specializing in marketing, messaging and content strategy.

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