December, 2013


Marketing Leadership: Word of Mouth Marketing – Brand Advocacy, not Brand Defense

Kara Redoutey, MBA

Why are leaders hesitant to do this?

As we began to explore last week, Word of Mouth marketing is brand advocacy, not brand defense.  This means that leaders should proactively talk about their organizations to people in their circle of influence.  Leaders are hesitant to have these conversations because it means that we have to initiate them rather than wait for someone else to bring it up.  It is much easier to avoid conversations that could potentially be difficult than to actually have them.  Leaders also don’t want to infringe on social time with work talk. 

What is the case for doing it anyway?

By initiating the conversation, you can actually help manage the conversation, clarify any questions, and make recommendations.  By sharing information about your organization, you may open the door for further discussion and recommendations for other services.  It can be fun to show pride in what your organization is doing and offering to your community.  People are more likely to choose an organization whose employees are excited and engaged.  If you don’t bring up your organization, you may not get the chance to talk it up and you’ll never know if there was a missed opportunity.

How can you do it?

  1. Talk. Share an organizational accomplishment or personal work accomplishment.  Talk about a new service or new development at your work place.  It can be a lot of fun to take ownership and show pride in your organization.  It may open a door to comfortably recommend a service your organization offers.
  2. Ask. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ask if the person has used your organization for something lately.  Ask about their experience.  Again, this can be a great opportunity to clarify any questions he didn’t ask while he was there and to recommend another product or service.  Remember that if there are issues or concerns, there should be customer service representatives at your organization to handle it for you. You play a role in resolving the issue by connecting him to the right person to address it.  If not for you, the issue may not ever be addressed.
  3. Thank. Always take the time to thank the person for choosing your organization. Thank him for sharing his experience with you or for asking for a recommendation.  Let him know to follow up with you if he chooses your organization again.  This opens the door for your next conversation.    

How have you been an advocate for your organization lately?

Marketing Leadership: Word of Mouth Marketing

Kara Redoutey, MBA

Introduction

The next few weeks will focus on Marketing Leadership and how organizational leaders can help build referrals to their organization.  This can be done in many ways through daily interactions with others and by working diligently with the organization’s marketing team. By turning leaders into effective word of mouth marketers, an organization can generate more referrals than by relying on traditional marketing efforts alone.  

Why are leaders hesitant to do this?

There are many reasons that leaders are hesitant to participate in word of mouth marketing.  Leaders feel as if they are bragging.  They feel like they shouldn’t try to influence another person in the decision making process.  They fear getting into a potentially uncomfortable conversation and they fear saying the wrong thing.  The most significant reason that leaders fear word of mouth marketing is the fact that they have to stand behind their recommendation of the product or service, and we have learned in the past that it is impossible to make everybody happy. 

What is the case for doing it anyway?

Many people want to see what others think and hear about the experiences others have had before they choose to become a consumer of a particular organization’s services or products.  Participating in word of mouth marketing can help your organization generate more referrals than traditional marketing efforts.  People are more likely to trust recommendations from people they know and trust than from the organization’s paid advertisements.

How can you do it?

  1. Be true to yourself. Only recommend products and services that you would personally choose for yourself.  Please click here to review a word of mouth marketing code of ethics.
  2. Join the conversation. People are talking about your organization.  Join them in this conversation and share important facts and information with these potential customers. Many individuals are asking for recommendations and it’s easy to make a recommendation to others that you believe in as well.  It’s a win-win. 
  3. Become a Brand Advocate. There is nothing better than having a work force made up of individuals who will publicly support their organization.  It can lead to more customers and higher customer satisfaction due to the confidence of the employees delivering the products and services.

How do you generate referrals to your organization?

Managing Employee Relationships: Uncovering Knowledge and Applying Wisdom

Vicki Noel

What are the barriers to doing this?

Leaders gain a sense of security from the knowledge that we conjure to guide us through all of the choices we must make every day.  Making a choice is a relatively simple task that moves us from uncertainty to certainty.  Many times we let our own anxiety or insecurities muck up our brains’ natural decision algorithms with clutter such as “What if people won’t like my choice?”, or the more paralyzing “What if the choice I make is wrong?”  The fear of being wrong or not perfect can present a barrier for leaders when trying to learn as much about an opportunity so that they can make the best possible decision for the organization.

Why is it important to do anyway?

The workforce we serve is counting on leadership to make decisions to ease as much uncertainty as possible.  They have jobs to do and working in uncertainty is distracting and uncomfortable.  So…we have to get over our own fear of failure because that’s our job to do so.  Each day in healthcare, the complexity of the decisions we have to make grows.  As uncertainty increases so does our need for more creative and useful knowledge to guide our choices.

How can you do it?

  1. Go to the source to get your information. Part of leadership is knowing who to go to when you want an answer to your question.  Rather than hunting around for the information you need to make your decision, if you can go to the source and get things settled quickly, then you are free to move on to the next issue needing resolved.  Be familiar with and USE the “sources” inside your organization – those who ensure that questions are answered.
  2. Capitalize on the collective wisdom.People who are wise are frequently asked for advice or commentary on how they have faced challenges and are seen as role models.  All organizations have many “wise ones” in its midst.  When faced with uncertainty that you personally don’t have the depth of knowledge to make an informed decision, seek wisdom from others.  Collective wisdom goes beyond the sum of each person’s wise thoughts and actions.  Listening to the collective wisdom allows a leader to make value-based decisions and/or ethical judgments that are consistent with the culture.
  3. Extend trust and ye shall receive. As a leader you cannot possibly know the answers to every problem and situation.  If you have a need to be “right” or “perfect” chances are you are not making many decisions or you ruminate for so long that your workforce loses faith in your ability to lead effectively.  Your “sources” and “wise ones” are all around you.  Don’t just seek them out, but trust in their information and advice, make the decision and share in the successes and consequences of that decision.  Leadership is not an island…you are in this together with those you serve.  When you extend trust it WILL be returned to you in spades.

What is an example where a leader trusted in your wisdom when making a decision and the impact of that experience on your relationship?

Log on and join the conversation at www.somc.org/blog .  We learn best from each other’s experiences.

Managing Employee Relationships: Addressing Risk in Uncertain Environment

Vicki Noel

What are the barriers to doing this?

In all organizations when leaders make a decision, there is risk that the decision may not have the desired outcome.  In an environment of uncertainty for the organization, the risk stakes are higher for leadership decisions.  Because of this risk intensity, leaders may delay having to make a tough decision to stall the inevitable outcome.  Leaders may put their head in the sand and hope that the uncertainty will go away and therefore they can avoid making the decision all together.  Or they could pawn the decision off onto someone else to avoid being associated with the decision so they can remain “loved”.

Why is it important to do anyway?

One of my favorite sayings about aspects of leadership that I do not enjoy is that they are “part of the gig.”  When you sign on to the position, there are going to be aspects you simply love…and many that you wish you didn’t have to perform.  Both are part of the commitment to leadership, and whether we like it or not, our workforce is expecting us to deal with uncertainties and make the tough calls.

How can you do it?

  1. Remember the honor you experience as a leader.  I refer to this as the “happy place” for me as a leader.  You need to remember the stewardship you signed on for when you accepted your position.  This helps put the proper frame of reference around the tough decisions you have to make every day.  You have to remind yourself what is REALLY important and at the same time handle tough decisions in a way that you can look at yourself in the mirror every day and know you have honored the position and responsibilities you have.
  2. Promote a culture of safety in decision making.  Acknowledge the risk that exists with decision making and expect that you and others you serve will make wrong decisions.  It is going to happen.  As a leader, transparency when you have made mistakes, sharing openly how and why you made decisions that did not work and then what you did to remedy the situation, will demonstrate to others that it’s o.k. to make mistakes.  This promotes a “safety in decision making” that many members of your workforce need to feel before they may make tough decisions.
  3. Utilize a transparent and consistent decision-making model.  All you really have are your words and your actions… and your workforce watches and listens to make sure the way in which you make decisions is consistent with your values and those of the organization.  Those you serve are more comfortable facing risk when their leader is predictable and consistent in their method of decision making and the decisions made reflect the values of the organization.

What are some strategies you use manage the barriers that an uncertain environment presents to you as a leader?

Log on and join the conversation at www.somc.org/blog .  We learn best from each other’s experiences.

 

 

 

 

Managing Employee Relationships: Balancing Uncertainty and Opportunity

Vicki Noel

What are the barriers to doing this?

Every leader within every organization has to face uncertainty.  Healthcare, as an industry, is on a particularly bumpy “uncertainty rollercoaster”.  Leaders regularly have to make decisions on issues when the causes and the outcomes are not always known in advance.  Making decisions when the outcome is unpredictable is uncomfortable and anxiety-producing to the workforce and leadership.  Sometimes in an effort to find certainty and solutions to ease our discomfort, leaders will miss seeing the opportunities that uncertainty can reveal.  The tendency to hunker down and engage in “prevent defense” to protect what certainties we DO know still exist may lock blinders in place to the opportunity knocking around the corner.

Why is it important to do anyway?

Uncertainty is a normal part of business.  And great leaders are always looking for opportunities.  Trustworthy leaders that have confidence in their skills and who surround themselves with quality people are more likely to successfully balance the uncertainty of business situations with identifying opportunities for improvement or change.  The more engaged our workforces are the more they are depending on us as leaders to anticipate and acknowledge the environmental factors contributing to uncertainty.  Trustworthy leaders view their team as invested stakeholders and critical to uncovering the improvement opportunities that exist and the potential short- and long-term solutions.

How can you do it?

  1. Keep your workforce up-to-date on uncertainties impacting your organization.  It is hard to look at the faces of those you serve and share with them all you know and have there be as many (if not more) unknown factors affecting your organization than known.  Trustworthy leaders acknowledge what they don’t know and commit to keeping their workforce informed as new information becomes available.  And…you have to keep that commitment if you want people you serve to be engaged in the solutions.
  2. Consider all options and make choices consistent with your values.  It is very critical that leaders do the tough work up front on clarifying current reality and generating every possible solution option when faced with uncertainty.  Generate a list of pro’s and con’s for each option.  Engage those you serve in adding to and participating in this list.  Trustworthy leaders balance all of this feedback and review each option against the organization’s mission and values to make the best decision.
  3. Involve your workforce in implementing the solutions.  Involve key staff members in implementing the improvement solutions.  Ask them about necessary implementation steps, what ideas they have for successful change, and about possible barriers to getting the work done.  After implementation, involve staff members in evaluating the implementation and the changes – what went well, what did not go so well, what improvements can be made for the long-term solution.  Listen to their suggestions and implement those that make sense.

What are some additional strategies you can think of to balance uncertainty while looking for opportunities?

Log on and join the conversation at www.somc.org/blog .  We learn best from each other’s experiences.