Product placement

You are the Prince of Pay Per click, the Sultan of Social Media and the web Content King. You know the brand back to front and are measuring every activity in the most minute detail. But do you know your product?

Too often Marketing and Communications professionals are stuck behind their desks. They rarely venture out to understand the company's product, how the customers use it every day and the value it delivers to the business. Quite often they ask their favourite sales engineer or product manager to summarise it for them. That way they can continue to just focus on the work they enjoy with easy access to a kettle - such as updating that blog post or new corporate presentation.

Those of us who work in marketing will know that quite often the focus is on them to sell whatever is being offered. They will then often shoulder the blame if sales are below what is expected. It is not always marketing’s fault, but often it is true that a great product is misrepresented by marketing. When this does happen you will find a marketing team that doesn’t know the customer, is struggling to work with the product team, or worse has no idea the extent of what the product actually does.

It is essential that marketers do not avoid the product or ignore the business. Only by engaging from the ground up can you then determine the best strategy to sell each unique service. The best marketing professionals operate from a position of customer and market insight while taking on the responsibility of learning the company’s products and solutions.

Colleagues in action at Wellingborough recycling plant
There is no better learning experience than hands on use. This is why I've been out and about road testing our latest brand audit app. The idea behind this is that colleagues from around the business fill in a series of questions on their designated office, site or depot. Everything is captured from signage and livery to cleanliness and email signatures.

The results are then interrogated to determine which division are the most engaged. We also can see the locations in dire need of an immediate makeover! As our team has led on this project the only way to ensure it is as user friendly as possible is to go and undertake audits ourselves.

The welcome bonus of this has been the opportunity to see various operations in action. Whether it was procurement, housing maintenance or environmental, I have learned something new at each location. I'm particularly looking forward to a visit to Mersey Gateway at the end of the week. that will teach me something new on a grand scale!

Coupled with the work on the brand audits we also held our quarterly marketing council. This comprises 50+ marketing and communications professionals from around the business. Topics of discussion include the latest digital strategy and tools (my slot) and the sharing of best practice. We also invited our suppliers and agencies to meet and discuss future developments with colleagues throughout the business. Many of these colleagues are embedded in the business overseeing various contracts and joint ventures. For me this was another opportunity to understand their individual challenges and to learn how we can guide and support centrally.

The Kier group marketing council in action
This traveling around will also stand me in good stead for a massive new project which is looming on the horizon. It will be a first for me so I'm going to need a bigger understanding of the business than ever before..

Another first for me which I've been alerted to is my being shortlisted at the Digital Awards: Champions. This takes all gold winners from the 2016 events for Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Milton Keynes and Surrey and pits us against one another for overall supremacy. The winners will be decided by public vote from 1st December 2016. This means I'm going to have to call in every favour possible in order to be in with a chance. It's not like there's much else going on in December...!
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