Everyone is on the team, or, Marketing is not a dirty word

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’m reading The Referral Engine by John Jantsch (and LOVING it).  The book is about how to build a system that gets your company consistently talked about and recommended by all who come in contact with it.  In the theatre we don’t often think about our patrons as “referring” others to us, but that is exactly what they are (or should be) doing and this book is just as applicable to our work as it is to a general contractor.  I’ll probably post a few notes relating back to this book, but this first one is prompted by something Jantsch talks about on page 19 (yep, it gets good early).  Here’s the direct quote:

Teaching every new employee everything you can about your organization’s marketing strategy, marketing plan, positioning, messaging, ideal customer, products, services, and brand attributes just makes sense when it comes to creating ambassadors for the organization…

… Smart companies make sure every employee understands how to spot an ideal customer, how to properly introduce the company’s story, and how to spot trigger phrases prospective customers use, and clues they give, that mark them as potential ideal customers, even if selling isn’t a part of that employee’s job description.

This basic training should be implemented at the outset and consistently and repeatedly reinforced.

This should be taken even further within an arts organization.  Not only should this information be communicated to employees, it should be part of the orientation for the board, our artists and technicians, and all volunteers.  In fact, I propose that every time Jantsch uses the word “staff” or “employee” throughout the book, we should automatically include board, artists, technicians, and volunteers.  We need to be harnessing the power of everyone that contributes to our organization.

I know what you are thinking, “What actor/designer/carpenter/usher is going to take time to read our marketing plan?”  The answer is, they won’t.  So, it is our job to get this information to them in a simple, engaging, easy-to-spread way and to give it to them in bite-sized pieces over time.  Here are some ideas, please share your own in the comments:

  • Find your “one word” (from Dave Charest) and use it to sharpen everyone’s focus
  • At the initial orientation (and in the information packet you should be providing already) include a section about marketing:  what’s your org’s voice? where are you maintaining a presence (online and off)? who is your ideal customer?
  • Make everyone’s role in marketing EXPLICIT.  Most people can’t take hints.  Tell them straight-out that they are the front lines of communication for the organization and that it is essential that they share their knowledge and love of the company.
  • Provide everyone with timely and consistent updates on how the marketing strategy is going.  You are probably already providing a financial “dashboard” to the board at each meeting.  It is time to do the same for marketing, but don’t save it just for the board!  Let your staff, artists, technicians, and volunteers know exactly what is happening with your most important measures (ticket sales, Facebook friends, email click-throughs, promotion redemptions, re-tweets, blog mentions, Google ranking, etc.)  Pick 4 things you are going to track and have specific goals that you can communicate your progress on clearly and consistently.
  • Highlight folks in the organization that are going the extra mile to spread the word.  We already do this for our major donors, it is time recognize the evangelists in our organization at the same level.

Marketing is not a dirty word, it is the life blood of engaging folks in our organizations.  It isn’t about the hard sell, it isn’t about interruption and pushing.  It is about communication and desire fulfillment.  How we sell the idea of marketing to our potential evangelists is as important to our success as how well we sell tickets.  Go forth and market!

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