Experience vs Promise

One of the most common misunderstandings in industrial companies and professional service firms is that Marketing is a departmental responsibility. Often, Marketing-Communication is mistakenly identified with Marketing, whereas it actually is a subset of it.

Marketing consists of those activities that conceive, promote, produce and deliver value. There are two parts to marketing. The brand promise is the commercial domain of departments like Marketing-Communication, Market Intelligence, Business Development and Sales. This domain involves those activities that promote and sell the brand and its products or services to the commercial target audience. Increasingly, this is done through digital media. But non-digital media and activities, such as trade shows and (customer) events still play an important role.

Strong brands deliver an excellent brand experience that equals the brand promise. Whether a person’s work is part of the brand promise (business development, sales, marketing communication) or brand experience (such as production, logistics, services, financial control), everybody in an organization contributes something of value. 

The actual brand experience is the most relevant for repeat business and growth. Whereas the brand promise is the result of the commercial operation (business development, sales, marketing-communication), the brand experience is delivered by people involved in production, services, engineering, logistics, finance. 

Case in point
If a Sales manager makes a promise to the customer, the Production department should know about this in order to make the right product. This seems simple enough. However, in many cases it appears difficult for the commercial side and the delivery side of the business to be well aligned all the time. In this case, if Sales and Production are not well-connected, Production now must live up to a promise being made by someone else. That may pose difficulties. It may interfere with other priorities. Or require  adjustments to the assembly line.

What if Production and Sales ‘move as one’ and Sales involves Production in the customer interactions? Not as an exception to particular customer questions, but as an organizational habit. Maybe they come up with even better ideas (two know more than one…). Whatever the promise now is: Sales and Production now own the promise to the customer together. Brand promise and brand experience are coming more in tune with one another.

Now there is a greater likelihood that customer’s expectations will be met or exceeded. And the Production department can absorb customer demands better in its planning process. Both Sales and Production have taken accountability and pride in delivery – their creativity and problem solving capacities have been optimally deployed. Chances are that the brand experience by the customer will be better and the internal way of working has led to both teams being happy with the result and the process that has led to it. 

This example seems simple enough yet such alignment on a structural basis requires the organizational boundaries to disappear. Aligning different departments and their individual priorities and interests behind the customer requirements is key in realizing the brand experience that meets the expectations brought forth by the brand promise. 

Marketing from the inside-out requires the people on both sides of the equation (see figure 1: Brand Experience and Brand Promise) to be well connected across organizational departments, regions and layers. This enables them to better sense signals from the outside and use them more creatively than when market information is limited to just several people and decisions are centralized. Inside-out marketing will be more gratifying for the people involved and, ultimately, delivers a stronger brand.  Rethinking your marketing organization starts at the executive level –  that is where a an integrated approach to marketing can be designed and rolled out. This has a strong impact on the overall organization and will require a deep reconsideration of the way your organization and teams collaborate, how decisions are being made and dilemmas are handled. This is a challenging process, yet one that will bring your organization in more internal harmony and instigate profound transformation. In turn, this will render your company more versatile and resilient. And a place to work that is more engaging for the people involved.

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