I was trying to catch-up on some of my reading the other day when I came across this article from ASEA (American Society of Association Executives) talking about how We’re All in Sales Now. The article covers the changing roles of the Association staffer and how everyone is now a sales person.
Except we’re not.
We are all marketing. This may seem like a subtle difference, but it is a critical one that needs to be made. The end-game and objectives are different. They need to be measured differently.
Broad versus Focused
When you market something, you are increasing awareness of your brand and what you offer. You are working to create associations between concepts and who you are. The goal is for someone who sees something you offer to automatically associate all the positive things you’ve marketed with that offering.
This is done by speaking to the market as a whole. You can do it one person at a time but it will take a very long time.
Sales is focused. You can sell well-defined, commoditized, items without a focused approach, but the more expensive or custom the item, the more one-on-one effort is required. Closing a sale is helped by a personal connection.
In many organizations of which I’ve been part, the hiring process was looking for organizational fit. The person we were hiring had to reflect the values of the organization. These could be honed and refined, but the core had to be there.
The reason was that this person, with every interaction, was going to be a living advertisement for our organization. Everything that they did would reflect upon us, for good or ill.
With the social media tools today, this is even more critical. In fact, people that normally would have hidden in the background are now part of the front lines. Every tweet, post, and comments reflects upon your organization.
If you have smart people out there, people will think your organization is smart. If they are rude, that will stick to you as well. Are they sharing original ideas or just parroting what others have said?
All of it reflects upon your organization. Your entire staff is now part of your marketing effort whether you like it or not.
You should like it. Think of it this way…your marketing budget is going to stretch that much further. While having your staff on social media cannot replace a sound marketing strategy, it can supplement it. Every person has a different circle that they reach and different times that they are active on the networks. Leverage that diversity.
This doesn’t mean that you should control their behavior. It means that you need to educate them how their actions reflect upon the organization.
It doesn’t mean that you force them to spout generic messages about what the organization is doing. You should ask them to share what they are doing in the organization, especially when it is cutting edge.
Don’t make them sell. The goal is that when it is time for people to buy, they remember all the friendly and smart things your people have said and associate those things with your offering.
Your staff doesn’t sell your products. When given the proper tools, their marketing does make that sales process easier.
Go give them the tools.