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Community Marketing: Think globally, act locally

Swingline Red StaplerIf you want a successful company where people want to work, you need to market your company to your employees. For a company like Swingline, this isn’t hard to do. Every Swingline employee has one or more of your staplers on their desk. It probably isn’t difficult for employees to convey to other people in their social network what their company does and what characteristics set their company apart from the competition. They probably even have a humorous anecdote about rival Bostitch. In addition, since Swingline’s products are geared heavily to the consumer market, the same marketing materials used for your customers is also readily consumed and digested by Swingline employees. But what if you work for a company that sells something that the average consumers will never see on a store shelf or purchase?

PanavisionAn employee for a company like Panavision, makers of motion picture equipment, could easily extend their company product to the average consumer via motion pictures. But what if you work for a company that sells enterprise hardware, software and/or solutions—and your company or division is not a household name—the marketing material the company produces to promote sales is probably poorly digested by staff outside of the sales and marketing departments.

If your company’s product is consumed high up in the channel, it is important that all your employees be able to make the connection from your product to the consumer level, even if that requires linking in third parties or customers of customers. Some might argue that the non-sales employees probably don’t encounter prospects very often, if at all, so why does this even matter? The answer is simple: pride.

Can you succinctly describe your company and the benefit it provides society to relatives at Thanksgiving dinner without putting your audience to sleep? Tryptophan effects aside, if you are unable to provide the links between your non-technical relatives' daily lives and your company’s products, you probably aren’t able to take a lot of genuine pride in your company. That doesn’t mean you don’t take pride in your department, team or personal accomplishments, nor does it imply you doubt the quality of your company’s products and solutions. So how do you get employees outside of the sales cycle to live and breathe your products? You need to do some internal marketing.

If you want to unite your employees on a common front, they all need to be behind your products and solutions—employees need to understand the business. Externally, you may target key markets and individuals with slick campaigns full of acronyms and the latest analyst quotes; this is the language of your buying audience. Internally, your audience is much more diverse and includes many groups that have little time or interest to learn this language which, to many of them, may only be spoken at work by peers in other departments. This isn’t only their problem, it is the company’s problem. After all, the employees are all ambassadors of the company in their social networks. Wouldn’t you want access to this network for your community marketing?


That is so true. I love Swingline staplers and the other ACCO office products. Although I had to buy 4 of their chrome staplers so far because they keep "disappearing" off my desk. The Quartet dry erase markers are the same way. They last so much longer than the expo markers. Love 'em!

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