Whether you work for a bank, retailer, or any type of business in between, your marketing department has likely put together a marketing campaign that seemed destined to do great things—build brand awareness, secure leads, and generate traffic—ultimately providing a boost to your bottom line.
In many cases, however, these same marketing campaigns fell flat in reaching their objectives because of poor or non-existent communication with the front line—the employees who interact daily with your customers. To counter this, in the early stages of planning a campaign, it's crucial you include how and when you will communicate with your client-facing associates. Indeed, they will most likely make the difference in the success of a campaign, but only if they are fully aware of your department's vision.
Communication. I remember back in my Little League Baseball days listening to the coach going over the signals he would be using that game; a swipe across the chest meant steal, and a tug on the hat meant lay down a bunt. It was crucial that everyone on the team listened and understood what he told us and for teammates to pass along the message to any latecomers. If the coach's signs weren't passed along or not understood, it could prove disastrous. It's the same with marketing campaigns. In order to be successful, marketing departments must ensure that every single person who may have a role in your promotion, especially those on the front line, have a full understanding and is well-versed in the components of the campaign.
Logistics. A thorough communication plan with your front line is vital to a campaign. However, there are several steps in your project that are just as important. Whether your promotion is related to the retail or business side, your marketing department must have the department head involved from the very beginning. You might find out that there isn't enough staff to support the promotion you have planned, that there isn't time for staff training, or there's an initiative in progress that can't be put on hold. This type of communication from the outset can help you move on to a different idea that stays within the timeline and workflow of the department you're working with.
Belief. Also, in the beginning stages of the project, the associates you'll be working with must buy in to marketing's presented idea. If there are aspects of your campaign that front line associates won't be comfortable with, are confused by, or are confident their clients won't respond well to, it makes sense to move on to a new idea. Most likely the department head has a good handle on his or her team and will make it clear that your idea will or won't work with the front line associates. Having a clear and concise campaign that creates excitement and will help your front line with their sales goals can go a long way in having buy-in from your department heads.
Responsibilities. When an idea for a campaign is given the go-ahead to proceed to the planning stage—assigning duties, responsibilities, and deadlines, to name just a few—you must include how and when you're going to communicate with your front line staff. How much training, if any, will your front line need? Because of time or cost constraints, will you rely on other associates (branch managers, for example) to pass along your marketing campaign details? When possible, it's always best for marketing department members to communicate the campaign details directly to the front line. Relying on others to trickle down information is a risky proposition. What messages and details will be left out or miscommunicated? By taking the time to communicate directly to staff and be able to answer any questions they might have, you'll feel comfortable in knowing everyone has a good grasp of the objectives of your campaign.
Appreciation. Lastly, don't forget to try and work in a little fun when you're communicating with your front line associates. Offer them a chance to suggest ideas to make the campaign more effective—icebreakers to start conversations with clients, for example. Your communication with front line associates is a two-way street. They most likely know their clients better than you do and can provide valuable feedback on ways to help boost campaign results. Post these ideas and feedback on your company Intranet, recognizing those associates who take the extra step in helping the campaign achieve better results. For example, hold a contest where the branch with the best results wins a pizza party. Your front line associates will appreciate being rewarded for putting in the extra effort to help make your campaign a successful one. Hopefully this enthusiasm will carry over to your next campaign, too.
Paul is Marketing Administrator at Park Bank, Madison and a member of the 2017-2018 WBA Marketing Committee.