Think of all the ways customers and prospects engage with your company. Calls to technical support. Interactions with salespeople. Statements and invoices from accounting. Writing an online review. Comments on blog posts. Posing questions in online forums. Completing surveys. Engaging through e-mail, online events and your Web site. And more.

Clearly this is the era of customer engagement in the industrial sector. And suddenly engagement — and by extension, marketing — is (or at least should be) everyone’s responsibility. Every employee must think like a marketer these days in order to present your company, brand, and products in the best possible light. And while engaging customers is no longer a function solely of marketing, it is marketing’s responsibility to help the rest of the team develop the right mindset.

The value of customers
Of course, marketing may not have the authority to command other departments how to act. That’s why you may need to start at the executive level to get allies and buy-in for your marketing mindset strategy.

One way to get the attention of senior management is to point out the economic value of a customer to your company. What does an average customer spend with your company over the lifetime of the relationship? Are you willing to risk that value by making a mistake that turns your customer away?

The answer is no, but the reality is that it happens every day. We’ve all been that customer at one time or another who gets angry with a company and decides to take our business elsewhere. A customer service agent acts condescending. Technical support doesn’t resolve your problem or follow-up. A salesperson gets too pushy. The Web site is so out of date you’re unsure if the product information and pricing are accurate.

Sadly, many lost customers are lost forever. But if your employees have a marketing mindset, you will have more opportunities to make a positive impression, increase your standing in the market, gain more customers, and lose fewer of them.

Education and empowerment are key
Employees need to be educated on having a marketing mindset. At a minimum, employees should know your company’s mission, vision, and core values. They should also be able to describe what your company does, your major products, and main competitive differentiators. All it takes is a few “lunch & learn” sessions to give employees key talking points, followed by the occasional reminder via e-mail, company online meetings, or other communication vehicles. You may also want to keep employees informed about any new marketing initiatives, sales campaigns and company press releases.

Employees should also be empowered to solve a customer’s problems and be trained on how to do so. This could range from making a direct decision on behalf of a customer they are engaged with, to transferring a customer call to the right person to resolve the issue. It’s important to foster a culture of advocating for customers and teaching employees how to do so.

You could also outline specific ways employees can contribute in a positive way to your company’s image, and reward them or evaluate them in this regard. Or implement a system that makes it easy for employees to pass along their ideas for better satisfying customers. You could convince human resources to add the marketing mindset to job descriptions: Always act on behalf of customers and in a way that promotes the company in a positive light.

Not everyone works in the marketing department, but everyone has to work at marketing. It’s called the marketing mindset, and your company needs it.

How has your company adopted a “marketing mindset” with all of its employees? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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