Sunday, November 24, 2013

Vernon's Secret

Elvis died on August 16, 1977 in the bathroom at Graceland. After being found on the bathroom floor, Elvis was rushed to the hospital where he was officially pronounced dead. The coroner recorded the cause of death as cardiac arrhythmia. While true in the strictest sense (cardiac arrhythmia basically means that the heart was beating irregularly and in this case, finally stopped), the attending physicians deliberately omitted the fact that what had apparently caused Elvis' heart to beat irregularly and then stop was an overdose of prescription drugs. These drugs included codeine, Valium, morphine, and Demorol, to name a few. After this information was revealed, Vernon Presley, Elvis' father, had the complete autopsy report sealed. It will remain sealed until 2027, fifty years after The King's death.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Inside Engagement

Employee Communication - Marketing starts at home.

Many of us who profess to be marketing experts have invested a good portion of our careers in understanding and leveraging quality communication between companies and their customers and customer prospects. Put aside for the moment that companies are not individuals and customers are not a mass market. Consider the impact of a motivated, inspired and nurtured team focused on delivering value.

Let me tell you about three (3) companies for whom I have had the pleasure of working. Maybe these examples are anecdotal (and anonymous), but I can assure you that in each case the employees had a huge impact on the positioning/branding/profitability of these enterprises. In each case, the time, energy and investment in internal communication continues to pay significant dividends.

A large advertising agency – Agencies can be disjointed places because the people in them tend to focus on client business. Take, for example, an agency with a roster of consumer packaged goods brands. The account managers in that agency lead meetings once a month to share highlights of challenges associated with their respective clients. The sessions allow managers to learn from real-time case studies of everything from managing a product tampering crisis to responding to competitive price pressure. A key learning: The value of unique insight and strategy. Share stories in an open and honest way and everybody gets better. 

A national architecture/engineering/construction firm – Inside of the a privately held designer and builder of healthcare structures, its 500+ employees benefit from a regular employee publication mailed to homes and posted on company bulletin boards. The newsletter helps mitigate the all too common phenomenon: When communication with employees is poor, the underground fills the void (often with misinformation). I know what you are thinking: a printed piece in the mail! You bet, the tactic is so old it’s new. This communication also allows employees to share with spouses and family in the comfort of their own home.

A hard goods manufacturer – A firm has growth through acquisition. As a consequence, they have multiple sales and manufacturing centers. To improve morale and organizational transparency the CEO invites employees to regular “town hall” meetings, smaller quarterly “lottery lunches,” and encourages everyone to use an anonymous hotline to make suggestions.  Hearing concerns and questions from a cross-section of workers in functions ranging from customer service to sales and making sincere efforts to be responsive goes a long way to build employee trust and empowerment.   

Employee engagement begins with communication. Marketing from the inside out!