Never forget that you have two buyers (internal AND external stakeholders) who both need to opt-in to your marketing strategy for your waste, recycling, or sustainability-minded business. We’re going to do a quick dive into what that means and the things you need to keep front-of-mind when you’re building out your marketing tactics.
The Origin of “Two Buyers”
A note from Jessica Shrout, President of Circle Three Branding: If you know me, you know I have a pretty intense thirst for knowledge and I’m a collector: I collect facts and tidbits that will serve me later. This often comes in the form of books and tools that fill my library shelves. I was recently stuck in an airport between legs of a journey and found myself browsing the bookstore. That’s where I saw a deck of cards called “Marketing Mess to Brand Success,” by Scott Jeffrey Miller. Each card is meant to serve as a marketing challenge to change the way you think about marketing for your organization. I’ll be honest: I don’t love all of them, but some of them are worth conversation. So that’s what we’re going to do: talk about my favorite challenges. Over the next few months, I’ll post those favorites and we’ll explore what it means for waste, recycling, and sustainability organizations.
Two Buyers in Business
When it comes to doing marketing and brand strategy for businesses, it’s important we remember that we’re selling a belief in the company to both the customers and our teammates. This spans the entire breadth of the company. According to Miller, it means that “intimately understanding the cultural and political nuances of your organization ensures your momentum won’t be hijacked.” In my words, it means that you can invest a ton of money into your marketing program, use the coolest tools, and be lightyears ahead of your competitors, but you will fail if you don’t have buy-in across the organization. Every single person from the CEO to the janitor needs to be living the brand values. Never, ever underestimate the power of your internal buyers.
For example, let’s pretend you have done a bunch of marketing on how your trash hauling company is friendlier than all the other competitors.
- Did you remember to get the customer service representatives and drivers in alignment? After all, they are the ones that represent the brand to your customers.
- Did you get their managers and the executive team to agree and support this mission by holding their team accountable?
- Do you have support from your IT team to measure their success – and did you tell your customer-facing co-workers how their performance will be analyzed in terms of “friendliness?”
If not, you’re fighting to be the friendliest company out there with an army of one and pure chance as your only weapon.
Tips for Buyer Buy-In
It’s important to remember that you have two sets of buyers and you must be marketing to those two sets in different ways concerning the same topics. Miller recommends the following three tips and I’ll weigh in with how we do it at Circle Three Branding.
Determine Your Internal Buyers
Miller suggests that you determine how many people there are whose support you need to build successful marketing campaigns. At Circle Three Branding, we’ve already perfected that list. We know there is a broad spectrum of roles and departments in the waste, recycling, and sustainability industry, so for simplicity’s sake, let’s assume we’re working with a trash hauling company.
If you are working on marketing for a hauler, you need buy-in from:
- Operations leadership – to set the tone for all operations employees
- Drivers – they’re the faces customers see
- Helpers – likewise…
- Anyone delivering trash carts and containers – also seen by the public
- Customer service representatives – they’re the voices customers hear, especially when they’re calling with complaints
- Accounting – they’re the ones that deliver “bad news” to customers in the form of invoices and price increases
- Receptionists – also a voice of the company
- Human resources – the ones responsible for hiring and training people who will work collaboratively
- C-level executives – the ones setting the tone for the entire company and holding marketing accountable
Create a Coalition of Supporters
Miller suggests creating a coalition of “must-have” supporters who will help you refine your vision and carry it out. He also notes that your list of supporters may change with each marketing campaign. The Circle Three Method says that this is just a new way to envision “cross functional teams” – but it’s new to lead with marketing…or even include marketing at all. Don’t let stigma of marketing simply being an extension of the sale team stop you from pulling together a team of leaders representing all relevant departments within the organization to achieve buy-in and grow the brand. At Circle Three Branding, we insist on contact with these department heads in order to ensure that the marketing strategy we create aligns with how business is actually done and will be supported by the relevant stakeholders. If not, we know exactly who to speak with in order to get feedback and change our course to ensure success.
Know When to Divide and Conquer
The last thing to know about all of these internal stakeholders – and the second reason to build your coalition – is that the marketing team doesn’t have to operate in a vacuum or chase down individuals to hold them accountable. By having this cross-functional team, you have managers who can champion the marketing strategy to their direct reports and ensure success. It keeps marketing focused on marketing and out of other departments’ endeavors so we don’t muddy the waters on direction and leadership or create bad blood.
These tips might seem simple at face value, but you’ll quickly learn the complexity of buy-in when you try to get cross-functional teams organized! It’s no small feat but we find it well worth the time. Be sure to track your progress, celebrate the wins, and lead with patience.
We’ll cover more Marketing Mess topics, cognitive biases, and logical fallacies in upcoming blog posts, so be sure to stay tuned. If you’re interested in see how Circle Three Branding applies these to your marketing strategy, contact us.