Marketing’s Hidden Gem! (The Seven P’s Part Four: People)

Continuing the series of ‘The Seven P’s’ this blog focuses on a key element which is often overlooked but can be the difference between marketing success and failure – your people!

A couple of recent TV shows have recently come back on our screens which hammer home the message of how important people are within the marketing mix.

Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares and Undercover Boss are perfect examples of how good people can elevate a brand above its competitors whilst bad people (or I should rather say unmotivated people) can ensure that a customer never buys from your company again.

And don’t think that you do not need to read this if you just work for yourself as a sole trader – YOU are still a key element of your marketing mix, so read on!

Leading from the Top

OK let’s start with Gordon Ramsey and his Kitchen Nightmares.  You could argue that 9 times out of 10 it is the ‘product’ that is wrong with the featured restaurant (i.e. the food) and to a certain extent you are right – this does always need addressing.

However if you watch any episode you will notice that there are always 4 key marketing elements that Gordon addresses – the product is the first one, the physical environment (the décor), the processes, and finally the people.  However it is the people that are the most important element and I will explain why.

Whenever ‘Chef Ramsey’ turns up at this week’s disaster zone you will notice a common similarity between the restaurant owners who are always in one of two camps:

1. They are at their emotional wits end and have lost their drive and passion to make it work

2. They are in denial that there is anything wrong.

Throughout any organisation the staff are lead by the people at the top and if there is no passion and direction coming from the leader then this will filter through to the customer facing staff.

If the person at the top is demotivated or delusional then not only will the standards of the people drop but subsequently so will the quality of the product, the slickness of the processes and systems and the physical environment – which in this show is both the dining area and the kitchens.  Everything stems from the people.

Although every episode ends with a restaurant and menu makeover, the main key difference that Gordon makes is getting the staff believing in themselves and the restaurant again and taking pride in the service that they are delivering.  If he doesn’t achieve this, the rest is purely cosmetic and will just delay the inevitable.

Brand consistency

Whereas Kitchen Nightmares focuses on a one location business, Undercover Boss tackles the problems of how to maintain control over businesses across multiple geographic locations.  However what is strikingly obvious again is that the key element to the smooth running of a successful business is its PEOPLE.

Again there is a key repetitive theme throughout this series and you can see that when a badly wigged boss visits different outlets – although the brand, product, price and interiors are almost the same they still have a completely different feel and operate at different levels of performance – and this is purely down to the people.

Those people who love the company that they work for and what the brand stands for, enthuse passion and customer service and this is what makes customers return again and again.

Recently on one episode about Isuzu Trucks the head of the business commented that she was disappointed that they had invested a lot of time and money on creating a customer care programme which was not being efficiently filtered through to its customers.  However this is no-one else’s fault but the board of the company.

There are two levels of customer care.  Ultimately you are looking to service your external customers, so that they become repeat customers and potentially even brand ambassadors for your business.  However, first you have to engage with your internal customers – your staff.  If you fail to create brand ambassadors within your own business then it will never filter through to your clients.

Sole Traders

So now on to those who cry “but I don’t have any people to manage, I am a sole trader”. Well guess what, YOU are the people element of your marketing mix.

You will have heard time and time again the “people buy people” and you hear this regularly because it is true.  When anyone sets up in business they spend all of their time working on perfecting the product or service.  This is the core element (they believe) that will make or break the business.

They then spend money on getting a website and a brochure to promote the product or service and price their product accordingly to generate interest.

Now, OK, if you work in a commodity product industry where people are transacting online this probably won’t apply, but any non-commodity product or service providers try this exercise.

Think back to the last time a new customer bought from you.  Was it purely the product they loved, was it your pricing, was it your brochure?  Well even if they did love all of those things, if they didn’t have confidence in YOU (or even like you) then they would have never have ordered from you!

Summary

Never lose sight of the fact that it is people that are crucial to the marketing success of your business – whether it is the people at the top or the people at the very bottom.  They all communicate your brand values in some way.

My wife and I have shopped at Sainsbury’s for the last 15 years and have always found it a more enjoyable experience than other local supermarkets.

However on our last visit my wife asked at the customer services desk whether should could add the points from her last shop (and she had her receipt) to her Nectar card as she had forgotten it last time she shopped there.  The response she received from the Customer Service Manager was rude – it wasn’t a polite ‘no sorry but we can only add these on within 14 days of the shop’ it was a snarling ‘don’t be so stupid’ sort of response.

This is an example of how 15 years of brand loyalty can be undone in one day by one person!  Beware!

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.