Many years ago, I developed a marketing and management concept titled Boots on the Ground. At the time I had been reading a lot about military history and strategy. The more I read, the more I realized the valuable insight that businesses and marketers could learn from the military (anyone who has read the Art of War will attest to this.) There was a lot I wanted to share, so I started a blog based on the concept. Shortly thereafter, the Iraq war started, and it felt uncomfortable discussing marketing in the context of warfare as an actual war was just starting, so I abandoned the idea.
A lot of what I shared and had planned to share still applies, and there was one tenet of the BOTG philosophy that I still find myself repeating constantly. I thought it would be helpful to share it on this blog as well.
Troops are the Nation
It was a quote that came from Vietnam Veteran turned author, Colonel David (Hack) Hackworth, and appeared in his book Steel My Soldiers’ Hearts (I read many of his books, so I may be mixing this up). He was discussing that when troops are deployed on foreign soil, they not only have a job to do, but they are there representing their country. Their demeanor and the way they conduct themselves in front of the local population will do more to influence the opinion locals have of the troops’ nation than a politician’s words ever could. Regardless of what is said in speeches, or what the press and media report on, one personal interaction with a soldier will forever color someone’s viewpoint, whether it is a positive or negative experience.
The same applies to your customers. Whether they are dealing with a sales person, a customer service operator, or an employee working your trade show booth, the experience a customer has with a representative of your company will define their impression of your business forever.
To put it another way, Employees are the Brand.
No amount of advertising, or brand positioning documents, or CEO interviews will be as powerful as a personal interaction. When you put someone on the frontline and they are interacting with your customers, they are the most powerful piece of marketing you have. How that representative has been treated by your company, how informed they are about your product or service, and how they conduct themselves will all determine whether they provide the customer with a positive experience or a negative one.
Always make sure that the people on your frontline are representing your company in a positive light. And for an entrepreneur or small business, this usually means you. How you conduct yourself and the impression you leave on others will be the single biggest determining factor of whether or not you are successful.
While many businesses spend the time and money to craft the perfect message, too many aren’t thinking about their frontlines. Make sure the people you have on the front are delivering an experience that supports what it is you are trying to say.
One of the Co-Founders of SideTour, former TechStar (NYC Summer 2011), ex-NBA'er, and past TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon Winner.