At the last Plastics News Women Breaking the Mold conference, I had the privilege of speaking to many professionals about How to Lead Marketing as an Everyday Habit. Toward the end of the session, I asked the audience to huddle around their area with others to begin the networking process with questions about what marketing challenge they are currently trying to overcome, in order to seek new ideas and elevate the discussion about today’s marketing trends and best practices. See below for several of the questions and my professional response.
1) How do companies co-exist when the sales team is considered the marketing team as well?
When there is a significant overlap between the sales and marketing teams, it’s important to define the roles and responsibilities of each group to make sure everything is clear and accurate. Providing ongoing training and professional development opportunities to give employees the skills they need to be effective in their roles can help. Ultimately, companies must be aware of how much work their sales teams are taking on and consider the potential benefits of expanding their marketing department.
2) How should a company communicate branding effectively?
Setting clear brand guidelines, having a consistent color scheme and logo, regularly posting engaging content on social media, and even investing in branded clothing and merchandise can go a long way in effectively communicating a company’s brand. Of course, it’s also important to monitor and measure effectiveness through metrics such as customer engagement and conversion rates to determine if your brand strategy is successful.
3) What do you do for recruitment marketing?
There are several avenues we use to help companies recruit employees, including:
- Recruitment websites: Sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Monster.com are where many job seekers go to look for their next career; on these sites, companies can go into detail about what they’re looking for.
- Employee referral programs: It’s not uncommon for employers to encourage their current employees to refer qualified job candidates to an open position. This helps companies find more quality candidates who may not be actively searching for a job.
- Social media: Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram offer excellent opportunities to showcase a company’s culture, share job openings, and engage with potential candidates.
- Job fairs and career events: These offer a chance to meet potential candidates face-to-face, providing opportunities to build relationships while highlighting what’s great about your company and promoting job openings. Universities are great places to look for such events, as college students are eager to begin their careers and are always searching for the right opportunities.
4) How does a company diversify in a new market?
The most critical step in establishing new programs from new market segments is effective research. Exploration of several underlying facts will define the strategic development and operational execution of the brand expansion to determine what success looks like. Perhaps there are similar pain points that your organization solves for customers from another segment, worth noting with unique messaging in a new market segment? Possibly, it’s tight tolerances, complex material selection, or shorter lead times. Use what you’ve already promoted as a differentiator in marketing language for the new market segment. Lastly, the research should also define which prospective customers are ready to listen and learn about your company’s offerings. The sales and marketing teams should develop a communication strategy for this audience that will strengthen all media conduits with touchpoints. Make it a daily habit to plan, track, and measure those marketing channels within the new segment.
5) How do we market new employees in a way that retains them?
Employee retention is incredibly important for businesses. Hiring takes up a tremendous amount of time and carves into your team’s productivity. A mistake some employers make is using retention as a plea towards their teammates, focusing on the request to stay rather than making them so happy they don’t want to leave. In an effort to stop people from jumping ship, many companies have returned to traditional retention programs by redesigning and promoting new, long-term career paths and investing heavily in employee development. Employees want to work in environments where they feel supported, allowing them to flourish and perform to their best abilities. Use the company’s marketing channels to promote the organization as a great place to work with awards, employee testimonials, and employee spotlights. It’s a great way to illustrate that their job means something and has a direct impact on the success of the company. The obvious on-the-job training, benefits/perks, and effective communication shouldn’t be taken for granted in that illustration. Does your company’s approach need updating?
6) How does the marketing department ‘sell’ the need for a marketing budget to the stakeholders?
When it comes to building trust with your key budget-approving stakeholders or pushing back on budget cuts, it’s always important to have a good grasp of the metrics behind the financial needs. Getting involved in the budget process early and tracking KPIs as well as the actual budget invested will help you as you plan financially for what comes next. Sharing details, such as where the company is serving its customers really well or communication channels that prove to be supported by growing numbers will gain the support and attention of executive leadership. If the pitch isn’t accepted as anticipated, be prepared to present counterpoints to the ‘what if’ questions, including any consequence that could result in the reduction of marketing spend or visibility.
7) How do we change the internal perception of the need for and importance of marketing in manufacturing?
Start with branding. A business cannot handle its marketing strategy without the inclusion of branding. In fact, branding is considered to be the most important aspect of a business since it is one of the major tools that will give the company a competitive edge. Therefore, the suggestion to influence the branding of the company before the marketing plan and tactics would be helpful for internal buy-in. Establishing an emotional or personal attachment to your company’s brand creates advocates and ambassadors and that starts with creating a meaning or perception in the minds of the customer. For a deeper understanding, read Susan’s blog What’s the Difference between Branding and Marketing.
8) How does a company manage the parent/child relationship of multiple brands?
This is a complex brand makeup that requires its own blog. But first, let’s explain the different parent/child relationship designs. There are four main types of brand architecture:
- House of Brands – think of Proctor & Gamble and all its uniquely titled sub-brands like Tide, Bounty, and Puffs.
- Endorsed Brands – think of Marriott and all of its uniquely titled sub-brands like Courtyard, Fairfield, Springhill, and Residence
- Sub Brand – think of Apple and its sub-brands like AppleNews, Apple Music, AppleTv
- Brand House – think of FedEx and its sub-brands like Express, Ground, Office, Freight
Any sized brand can benefit from aligning with brand architecture. Best practices begin with a plan to design a communication and visual strategy thereinafter supporting the parent brand with effective and consistent messaging of the child brands. Whether branded to interact together or separately, the relationship has to be sustained with purposeful intent because the marketing tactics will be informed by its hierarchy. These large organizations established a purposeful direction with years of understanding their business at its core before speaking effectively. Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and review your company’s core to evaluate the purposeful approach to multiple brands and which architectural framework it functions under.