Why is “People” one of the Marketing Ps?

Surely, people are HR’s remit aren’t they? Well to a certain extent. But your employees are also very important from a marketing point of view:

  1. Identity:

Emails

Of course you should make sure that your email addresses are easy to remember but that you don’t have any issues with shortenings that could be embarrassing. I know one company who used people’s initials. If there was no middle name an X was usually used. What was the issue? Well one person had a first name that began with S and a surname that began with E, so the email address was SXE but when giving that out over the phone, especially as this person had a French accent, it would be misheard as sexy, and autocorrect would change it to SEX. Was that really thought through by the B2B company’s IT department? The poor employee was embarrassed by their email address, as were some customers.

Uniforms

For some organisations the uniform is a powerful part of the branding – think Royal Mail postmen, British Airways crew, Sainsburys supermarket. When wearing that uniform the employee is a personification of what your brand stands for.

However, the uniform also needs to be practical for the wearer, so that they do not feel self-conscious (nothing too low cut or too short a skirt for the ladies), that they can perform their role easily without the uniform getting in the way.

Before deciding on a uniform, then involve some of the employees in focus groups to have their say instead of it just being a marketing decision.

  1. Customer or user experience:

We all hope that the customer or user experience is excellent for that testimonial, the recommendation, the social media comment. We all know that a bad experience is shared far more than a good experience, so avoid the negatives.

Appropriate training

To give your employees the right tools and to uphold the brand values and the mission statement, you need to give appropriate training for different types of interchange method with the client.

Phone – how to calm people who are irate after holding for so long; how to cope with someone who is mumbling or has a heavy accent making it hard to understand; how to mirror in terms of speed of speech, intonation and vocabulary. What the difference is between the way they behave on an incoming call versus an outgoing call. Call centre employees may be amongst the lowest paid within your organisation with a fast turnover, but they can make and break a relationship with how they respond. It is all down to the right people with the right training to get the right results.

In-person – we’ve all come across the surly waitress, the check-out person that is making it clear that they don’t want to be there and so on. Here are a couple of examples of how in-person experiences led to two very different outcomes.

The author walked into an upmarket clothing store. There were no other customers in the store, but there were 4 members of staff: 2 at the front of the store deep in conversation with each other; 2 at the back of the store deep in conversation with each other. So, the first issue was gaining the staff’s attention to answer a question. The reaction was one of not wanting to be bothered with the client. Apparently, the belts were towards the back of the store. Having looked but not found the belts (for a particular dress already purchased from the same brand in a department store who’d run out), so now faced with the issue of interrupting the staff at the back of the store. There was an abrupt answer of it’s on the store floor (implying look for it) – well not that I could see. They didn’t offer to show me where. I walked out, went to a competitor next door and ended up buying two dresses and three belts.

BUT when I tweeted the first brand I expected to hear nothing. Instead, I got a DM asking for more details. An apology and a request for my address. A £50 gift card followed. A couple of weeks later I was back in the same store – this time someone was saying hello as I entered. I commented that I hadn’t seen him before and he mentioned there had been a complaint and the store staff were all on training and had been split up from each other.

A fantastic response! Pity Covid has taken them out of business.

Compare this scenario at a major supermarket. There was a 3 for 2 on the shelves, but at checkout all three were charged for. So, I went to customer services. There was a queue, but I wanted to point out an error on their computer so that it didn’t happen for others. The assistant was quite terse with me, and sent someone else to look at the shelf. My partner followed, and saw the assistant remove the signage, and return to the customer services desk. On return they said “there was no 3 for 2 offer advertised on that item” so my partner pointed out that he had followed and seen what had happened.

The assistants were not apologetic, but now it was a matter of principle. I asked for a refund on the third item. It was refused. I asked to return all three items. That was also not welcomed. I said “I don’t have to do my weekly shop here” and here is where I was totally flabbergasted at the response “well we have enough customers without you”. A manager had just arrived and overheard that. Asked me for a recap and gave me the refund begrudgingly. It was in the days before Twitter, but I still avoid that chain as much as I can as they don’t deserve my business. They are still in the top three supermarkets in the country, but their sales have declined – I wonder how many people had been told that their business wasn’t needed?

Social media – this tends to be chattier. Fun can be had, but the people answering people’s queries need to know where the boundaries are of what is acceptable to say and what isn’t.

There are companies out there who say that they don’t accept complaints by social media, but the client decides how they want to contact not the recipient in this case. In the clothes store example above, there were very few people tweeting the company and especially not complaints, but it was still handled very professionally. There was a process of how to cope with such a tweet and it maintained a good relationship.

Get it wrong on social media though and watch your reputation go down so quickly.

The above examples are a quick overview of why people need to be considered when drawing up the marketing strategy. Yes there is overlap with customer services, with reception, with HR, but marketing is the function that pulls it all together under the banner of brand identity.

If you need any help with knowing how your people need to be involved in your brand identity then give us a call today.