Employees: Your Unstoppable Marketing Machine in 2017
Employees: Your Unstoppable Marketing Machine for 2017
Employees: Your Unstoppable Marketing Machine for 2017

Well, it’s 2017…

About the only thing we can say for certain about the new year is that change will abound — much of it beyond the control of the marketing department. So, what is a renegade thinker to do in the face of this uncertainty?

One trend we’ve observed among successful companies is a renewed focus on the internal audience — employees — to ensure that they are hired, inspired, aligned, measured, and deployed for maximum impact. We’re big fans of this approach, especially after recent interviews with CMOs from Tableau, Intuit, Greystone and VER, all of whom validated its effectiveness. Here are five ways to make sure your employees become an unstoppable marketing machine in 2017.

1. Assess for Awesome

We all know that every employee can have a significant impact on the business, yet how often do we make a hiring decision based on expediency, rather than talent? Patti Newcomer, CMO at Intuit ProConnect, rejects these compromises. “We’re trying to find people that will perform at the top 25% at their job level,” explains Newcomer, adding, “It’s amazing how [assessing for awesome] takes away all the hemming and hawing at the end of the process.”

2. Clarify Your Culture

After hiring the right talent, the next challenge is acculturation. Recognizing the critical role of retention and recruitment for Greystone, a privately held real estate company with 7,000 employees, CMO Claudia Schiepers created a culture book that “outlines four standards of behavior.” Among the four is caring, a standard demonstrated through generous support of local charitable activities and encouraged via an on-going recognition program.

3. Lead by Listening

Even if you’re smart enough to hire awesome staffers, it is easy for a leader (especially if you’ve been in your role for a while) to forget to listen to them. Elissa Fink, long-time marketing chief and change agent at Tableau Software, explains, “There are times that I just need to keep my mouth shut and be open to ideas that may have sounded crazy three years ago but could be exactly what we need now.”

Having been part of Tableau’s extraordinary growth from 40 people when she started ten years ago to more than 3,200 employees today, Elissa is keen to tap into all of the new talent they’ve acquired.

4. Evaluate Employee Engagement

Given the adage that businesses become what they measure, applying the right yardstick to employee-targeted efforts is essential. Patti Newcomer recommends measuring engagement — instead of satisfaction — using a syndicated study that comes with normative data, as it is more predictive of employee longevity and willingness to go above beyond.

Having witnessed a rise in engagement scores from the low 60s to the low 90s, Newcomer is understandably proud of Intuit’s focus on employees and their goal of “enabling employees to do the best work of their lives.”

5. Deploy Key Deputies

Thinking about your internal audience is especially important when rebranding. Gina McDuffie, CMO of what is now called VER (formerly Video Equipment Rental), arrived with a mandate from new management to evolve the company brand and culture but realized that, as a relative newbie, she couldn’t be the messenger. In explaining her ultimate success, McDuffie noted, “A lot of my time was spent talking with a smaller group of people who identified as influencers about why the change was necessary, assuring them that it was going to be okay, and then asking them to spread the word.”

Final Note: Assuming unemployment rates stay where they are or even decline this year, the battle to recruit and retain employees could be particularly fierce. Marketers who create an employee-centric culture, strengthen their internal communications and empower employees to spread the good word, will be best positioned to compete for a tightened talent pool and reap the associated rewards. And with that renegade thought, we wish you and yours a remarkable new year!

This article originally appeared on AdAge, and is republished here, with permission.

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About the Author

Drew Neisser
"CMO Whisperer" Drew Neisser, is the Founder/CEO of Renegade, the NYC-based agency that has helped CMO’s find innovative ways to cut through since 1996. He is also the former Publisher of Social Media Explorer. He is a recognized authority on non-traditional marketing techniques having won innumerable awards for creativity and campaign effectiveness and is the author of The CMO’s Periodic Table: A Renegade’s Guide to Marketing and is the host of the podcast series Renegade Thinkers Unite. Ranked in 2016 among Brand Quarterly’s “50 Marketing Thought Leaders Over 50,” he has been a featured marketing expert on ABC News, CBS Radio and the Tony Robbins podcast series among many others. Drew writes the CMO Spotlight column for AdAge and TheDrewBlog. He consults on digital / social media trends via the GLG network and sits on the boards of the Urban Green Council and Duke NY.

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