Even a perfect marketing strategy can fail

Even if you spend hours, weeks and months on the developing the “perfect” marketing plan it still can fail.  Why ?  Because you don’t treat your employees better than you treat your customers and over time they have become disengaged.   Employee engagement may seem like a frill in a downturn economy. But it can make a big difference in a company’s survival.  Gallup estimates the cost of America’s disengagement crisis at a staggering $300 billion in lost productivity annually. When people don’t care about their jobs or their employers, they don’t show up consistently, they produce less, or their work quality suffers and your customers suffer.

Think of this for a second…

-Someone goes on Twitter and Facebook to complain about GE appliances.  Rather than engage that consumers in conversation someone from GE sends a Tweet over 24 hours later with GE’s 800# upon which the customer enters phone tree hell and hangs up.  The consumers vows never to purchase a GE appliance again.

-A customer purchases a Dell computer and has problems with some preinstalled software.  She tries to call Dell tech support but is put on hold for over 10 minutes and when she finally connects to someone she can’t understand what the person is asking her to do because she is not proficient in the new Windows operating system.  She choses to return the Dell PC and instead purchases an Apple iMac.

-A consumer is excited to try a new product but to get a trial coupon she has to first find the brand on Facebook, then “like” the brand only to find that they are out of trial coupons.  She decides to move on and is no longer interested in trying the new product and voices her frustration on Twitter and Facebook.  Responses from the brand ?  Zero.

Some of this probably can be attributed to disengaged employees.  People of all ages, and across income levels, are unhappy with their supervisors, apathetic about their organizations and detached from what they do. And there’s no reason to think things will soon improve.

Managers can help ensure that people are happily engaged at work. Doing so isn’t expensive. Workers’ well-being depends, in large part, on managers’ ability and willingness to facilitate workers’ accomplishments — by removing obstacles, providing help and acknowledging strong effort.

As long as workers experience their labor as meaningful, progress is often followed by joy and excitement about the work. “This time it looks good! I feel more positive about this project and my work than I’ve felt in a long time,” one programmer wrote after she’d completed a small but difficult task. This kind of rich inner work life improves performance, which further supports inner work life — a positive spiral. 

Unfortunately, many companies now keep head count and resources to a minimum and this makes progress a struggle for employees. Most managers don’t understand the negative consequences of this struggle. When we asked 669 managers from companies around the world to rank five employee motivators in terms of importance, they ranked “supporting progress” dead last. Fully 95 percent of these managers failed to recognize that progress in meaningful work is the primary motivator, well ahead of traditional incentives like raises and bonuses. 

Working adults spend more of their waking hours at work than anywhere else. Work should ennoble, not kill, the human spirit. Promoting workers’ well-being isn’t just ethical; it makes economic sense. Fostering positive inner lives sometimes requires leaders to better articulate meaning in the work for everyone across the organization. Sometimes, all that’s required is that managers address daily hassles and help with technical problems. If those who lead organizations — from C.E.O.’s to small-team leaders — believe their mission is, in part, to support workers’ everyday progress, we could end the disengagement crisis and, in the process, lift our work force’s well-being and our economy’s productivity. 

Even the best marketing plan and product can fail if you your employees are disengaged but the key lesson from the article in the NY Times is:

1ne: Managers have to make their people feel important and part of the solution.  Praise them more and make them feel like they are part of something exciting.

2wo: Listen to your people.  They probably have a wealth of experience and you can learn from each other.

3hree: Take an active interest in their professional development.  Stop by their desk and ask them what they are working on this week and if you find that they are working on things that don’t add value to your customers or brand than tell them not to worry about it.  Ask them where they think bottlenecks are within the company and ask what they would do to remove them.

4our: Don’t develop marketing plans in a silo.  Ask for input from employees before you present it to management.

5ive: Empower people to make a difference in customers lives.  If someone complains about the brand on social media reward employees who solve customer problems and responds quickly.

6ix: Treat your employees better than you treat your customers.  No, you don’t have to spend a lot of money you just have to show that you care and once in awhile ask “how are you ” and sit down and listen to what she, he, has to say.

We cannot afford to spend countless time developing new products and marketing plans only to forget that disengaged employees can derail your companies efforts.  Being a manager today means being more of a people person.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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6 Comments on “Even a perfect marketing strategy can fail”

  1. Richard, this is an excellent article! Many organizations fail to listen to employees and do not take professional development seriously.

    A “marketing strategy” that ignores employee engagement actually falls very short of perfection.

  2. You actually make a very good case for treating your customers well. There are many reasons that marketing plans fail such as poor implementation, or failure to assign responsibility. Not satisfying the customer, however, is the quickest road to ruin.

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