Fear. Intolerance. Hate. Misunderstanding. Judgment. Jealousy. Insecurity.
I believe the most dangerous of these hurdles can be overcome through education and communication.
I demonstrated this for a department I previously worked in. The department was kind of the redheaded stepchild of marketing. PHS—Policy Holder Services. Sounds a bit like a customer service unit, doesn’t it? Only it was the retention marketing arm that did some serious marketing in customer billing statements. Except we didn’t get any respect in the organization. You know why? Because no one knew—or more importantly, understood what we did for the organization.
We were stealthy marketers who made a lot of money for the business with minimal spend. The bills were going out anyway, right? (Yes, I’m old. This was before the internet and electronic billing and payment systems were introduced.) Our offers were sent on a free ride and brought in dividends with minimal spend.
I took it upon myself to create a PowerPoint presentation about our little unit—a PR kit, if you will. I explained the process of “autosplitting”—the systematic process of dividing our customers into target markets, based on their demographics of ages, states, and other benefit criteria—and the different techniques we used to market existing customers. In general, we had three goals I explained as follows:
- #1 goal, get customers to pay their original bill—protecting profitability through persistency
- #2 goal, get customers to consider upgrading their existing coverage—if they have $10,000 in life insurance coverage, maybe they’d like $20,000 in life insurance coverage
- #3 goal, get customers to buy additional coverage—maybe they’d like cancer coverage along with their life insurance coverage
The PR kit also demonstrated the successes of these marketing efforts. The measured results showed the return on investment with pennies of cost for dollars in return. A net result was hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue brought in by this team on an annual basis.
You can’t really argue with
success like that.
Redheaded stepchild or not, it’s hard to not pay attention to a department that generates that amount of revenue year after year.
I learned a valuable lesson with that experience. Don’t get me wrong, I first spent a few good months moaning about the other high-profile teams and their lack of respect for our unit. I also complained about the higher-ups and the way they dismissed our proficiency.
Then I showed them. Literally.
I showed them in a kind, respectful and professional way how our team continued to perform consistently and relentlessly. I showed them how our team was trusted to bring in revenue so reliably that it ran on autopilot. Guess what? The right people started paying the right kind of attention to our department, shortly after we shared appropriate educational pieces and communicated with them.
What’s the right kind of attention, you ask? We started getting invitations to meetings about marketing so we could participate in the “bigger picture” planning, rather than having to scramble on the back end to make things work because we weren’t initially consulted. Our team members started getting recognized for their work and were awarded for their achievements. I was asked to present for prospective client meetings and contribute to Request for Proposals. And lastly, I was asked to lead a completely new team we envisioned and established to foster inter and intradepartmental teamwork called the Business Integration Team.
When you’re feeling slighted or left out—whether that be at home or in business—before spending too much time spinning your wheels, ask yourself, “What education and communication tools can I use to help overcome this hurdle?”
My experience has been using communication and education to your advantage, helps you come out ahead every time.