We had a lot of fun recording the Marketing Smarts podcast down in Miami on May 16. Meeting so many smart marketers was great, and the Cafeina lounge (where we held the event) was cool and hip. Our guests were Summer Joy Boone, Director of Assimilation and Social Media at Church by the Glades in Coral Springs, and Janet K. Altman, principal and marketing director at Kaufman, Rossin and Company, the second largest accounting firm in Florida. They brought two unique perspectives.
I kicked off my conversation with Summer by asking her what a "Director of Assimilation" does. She explained that her job, like most marketing jobs, involves "causing people to take a next step and a next step,." Accordingly, she focuses on figuring out how to get people to check out the church's website, then get them from the website to the church itself, then get them more involved in the church's programs, and then, of course, get them to tell their friends about the experience.
That last step is key because, as Summer reminded us, "Your best ambassadors are your customers. If you can get them on board, they will do your marketing for you."
Naturally, if you want your customers to be effective ambassadors, you need to "equip them," Summer insists. "You want your people to be ambassadors, but if you don't give them the tools, you're kind of out of luck."
Among the tools that the Church by the Glades provides congregants are printed invitations to upcoming services they can pass out at will. The church also provides T-shirts bearing the Church's motto, "No Perfect People Allowed," and posters advertising some of its provocatively named programs, such as "The World's Largest Strip Club" or "Dropping F-Bombs."
If those slogans sound untraditional (and even a little "in your face"), that's part of the church's identity. "We're looking for the messed up, jacked up, and shacked up in South Florida," Summer said, adding, "We will do anything short of sin to get anybody in the door."
My conversation with Janet Altman, on the other hand, didn't include talk of f-bombs or strip clubs, but it did turn some current marketing dogma on its head. Specifically, while everyone today is touting the importance of building a "customer-centric" organization, Janet talked about how Kaufman Rossin has succeeded by pursuing an employee-centric model.
Janet started off by saying the firm's core belief has always been "Happy employees make happy clients."
"When our employees are satisfied in their jobs, when they are feeling appreciated, when they enjoy their work," she explained, "they do a better job; they are better at client service; and probably most important to a client, they stick around."
Putting employees at the center of your culture doesn't mean ignoring client needs. In fact, it means meeting them head on—because, as Janet pointed out, "Clients want a consistent team." They don't want to see a new face every year come tax time. They don't want to have to ramp up new people and explain their specific situation over and over again. Instead, they want to work with people they know, who are familiar with their business, and understand from long experience what is important to its success.
When clients hire a professional services firm, Janet says, "what they're buying is a relationship." Accordingly, part of her marketing approach emphasizes the company culture, from talking about community service and events on their blog to showing people having fun on Facebook and Flickr. Another part consists of working with the firm's accountants to develop personal marketing plans and helping them use platforms such as LinkedIn to introduce themselves to the world and develop new relationships.
At the same time, needless to say, marketing at Kaufman Rossin goes well beyond social media. As a testimony to the lasting power of traditional media, Janet said the firm's sponsored spot on WLRN (the local public radio station) actually gets "more feedback from prospects and referrers and clients than anything else we do."
Whether using traditional channels or building a presence in emerging ones, Janet's primary goal is communicating "who we are," because, although this might be surprising for an accounting firm, "my brand is very personal."
By the time the evening drew to a close, I had discussed a range of marketing topics with Summer, Janet, and the assembled multitude. I encourage you to check out the entire episode above, or simply download the mp3 and enjoy it at your leisure. (Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes and never miss an episode.)