Marketing from Inside-Out

              I am always excited when I get to write about marketing and its aspects from my very experiences and perspectives. Marketing has many faces and all of them have their roles to play in the business world. Personally, there is one marketing concept I am the most interesting in and that is “Internal Marketing”. In short, internal marketing is the promotion of a company’s visions, goals, etc. within the organization. Furthermore, internal marketing is helping to build brand awareness and establish valid foundations for its expansion. Nowadays, with the situation we are going through, more and more companies are adopting this process to create a bubble of brand security between the organization itself and its customers. So, why internal marketing is important in the short- and long-term business growth and development?

            Nothing else has such high importance when linking external and internal marketing than starting from the internal communications. When a message or a value proposition is marketed externally, then the same message needs to be passed on to the staff within otherwise it leads to huge misunderstandings on the company’s integrity and brand confusion. Also, I have seen that many companies have misjudged that it is their product or service that creates value between the two. While this statement is correct in some way, the actual engaging and emotionally evocative value creation can be achieved only by creating the brand first from the inside. Companies need to look at their employees as the people that are working with them and not for them. They need to look at them as a source of customer understanding and as brand advocates. Only then the link can be strengthened, and true branding creation can be made.

             Another important thing to consider is how message communication can be done successfully without any misleads. The answer to that is through storytelling marketing. There is no greater tool to communicate with your audience than stories. Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to breathe life into your brand and, stories are captivating for a reason. We are mostly drawn and learned by our life experiences, the journeys we embark upon, and then when we get the opportunity to unleash them, we evoke such emotions that with no other “tool” can be done. Storytelling marketing can create personal connections not only to your customers but also to your employees. When an employee sees and feels the vision and the story behind the company, he tends to react to it in the most positive way possible.

            Equally important to the previous points mentioned is that internal marketing is the most successful way to increase productivity inside the organization. When an employee has understood and personally connected with the company, he tries his best to achieve the best possible outcome for him and his workplace. In my opinion, you need to also give them the understanding that, they do not work for you, they work with you. People inside an organization need to be treated equally for them to feel welcomed and connected with the managerial sector. Besides, including the employees in the company’s vision and mission, increases their engagement thus, making them more productive. In addition, internal marketing increases productivity by making people feel they are part of a team that is brainstorming and working to reach the desired outcome.

            In conclusion, I believe the three points mentioned in the previous paragraphs answer the question that was set in the beginning. The link between internal and external marketing communications is vital for an organization to avoid any confusion and negative thoughts on the brand. Moreover, we give the audience value and brand connection by correctly communicating it through the means of storytelling. Emotion, authenticity, and engagement. That’s what storytelling is. Additionally, productivity can be achieved through either with the previous points mentioned above or by itself with the inclusion of the employees to the company’s activities. If a company is struggling to grow and develop, maybe looking to build the foundations internally is the way of achieving ultimate growth and development.

Summary of an interview with a Marketing Specialist

Question 1: “When you as a company set off to design a marketing strategy for a client what are your main principles and where do you set focus at first”

  • First and foremost, communication and goal setting between us and the customer is our key activity. We cannot talk further on the implementation if we do not clear the path (and minds) first. We come back to the customer with questions and then with our recommendations. But, most importantly at the beginning, we are looking to create value between us to set the foundation of good cooperation.

Question 2: “Are the companies interested in creating a brand at some point and how important is it to differentiate from the competition?”

  • Unfortunately, at that customer scale we are working on lately we do not see any turn in that direction yet. Most companies are looking to promote more instead, establish their presence either online or in their physical space. However, there is a minority that is looking further to branding and we’re getting excited when that happens. Differentiation is a huge process for us, and we take it very seriously. Huge amounts of research and future planning are taking place in the process

Question 3: “What are the main obstacles that companies face when following a strategy and how do they cope with changes in the market?”

  • The most important obstacles our clients face are problems in communicating the strategy to executive employees and the rest of the staff. Also, the other issue they face is the ineffective training their employees get to adapt to the strategy. We often see companies fading away from their strategy but that’s why they hire us. Changes in the market we see all the time, some we may have foreseen so to change is as easy as flipping a switch. While others need to look close to find the “entry point”.

Question 4: “How much have marketing strategies changed with the new situation of the pandemic?”

  • Everything went digital in a blink of an eye. For those that were still working on conventional marketing and promotional campaigns they pivoted immediately and now the focus of their budget falls into digital ways but still investing some into other ways. Now, it is a great period for companies to do some branding and strategically market their offerings and their brand since they can now focus on their existent clientele and build strong relationships between them so they can prosper later.

It was interesting hearing the perspective of the CMO of a marketing agency. I was nervous about this interview because I wanted to hear thoughts and processes from the source, from the people that handle marketing every day and are monitoring its changes. Our conversation lasted about 20 minutes and we had a great discussion on the questions. I can point out here that I strongly agree with his thoughts on every question especially with his thoughts on branding.

For me branding is having a place in people’s minds, whenever they think of a product/service immediately they relate it to you (of course if your company is related to that).

Also, being there for them when they need you is crucial for building a brand. Another thing I would like to comment on is his opinion on the obstacle of not communicating the strategy to the rest of the staff. You cannot possibly succeed if your company is not working as a whole in the same direction and that starts from the executive persons.

You also cannot take for granted that your employees will work as hard as the people who run it.

You must give them the motive to follow your strategy. It was again another eye-opening experience and sure made room for other questions to be answered.

How important is Planning in Business and in Life?

To simplify, I will put it like this: Imagine yourself living with no strategy, ambitions, goals to achieve, and missions to complete. You will be a human being without a soul!

Storytime: I was like this with no goals or unrealistic ones without a strategy or again if I had it must have been unclear. I was living like a zombie for 5 years trying to find moments of peace and silence.

When all of a sudden it hit me, what if I had an ACTUAL plan of my life in 5 years’ time? Long story short my planning led me to move out and change countries. Simple as that, I just went for it.

Whatever I was planning ahead that included me staying in the same country just didn’t match with my ambitions and goals. In the conclusion of this short story, I just wanted to point out that without planning even in your personal life nothing essential will come out. Same as in businesses, with no planning you cannot share the importance, the vision(s), the difference, the objectives, the achievements you set out to reach.

From my perspective I see five points on why an organization or a company needs a strategy regardless their aims or missions:

Prioritize

  • First and foremost, you need a strategy to set a direction and establish priorities for your company. The direction will define your visions and the priorities the actions you need to take to make these visions a reality.

Simplifies decisions

  • Secondly, having a strategy set in mind, decision-making will be simplified and more easily done since the goals or objectives are clear to everyone and the decision-makers.

Maximize performance

  • Also, in your organization, you may have people working hard but with no effect, because without a strategy, they are not following a scheduled and prioritized plan resulting in not maximizing their efforts.

Communication

  • Having and understanding all the parts of the strategy are vital to better communicate the “message” to others that are working with you towards the same path of the company’s success.

Strategic thinking vs. planning

The difference between strategic planning and strategic thinking is simple. Strategic thinking’s purpose is when we imagine or envision the future of the organization to rewrite and develop strategies that have a greater chance of success and competitive advantage. To think strategically you answer the questions “what?” and “why?”.

As opposed to that, strategic planning is when you lay down the plans to achieve the visioning by answering the questions “how?”, “when?” and “to whom”. It includes the steps your organization needs to take.

Instantly when I think “strategy” it comes to mind the strategic video and non-video games I used to play when I was little. When you had to figure out your next move to crush the competition and win the game. This is no different than leading a company only that this is real life.

Thinking of strategy now also brings images of people working together brainstorming and being creative when setting the foundations called planning. In my opinion, the best way to transfer the vision from a few to the many is by setting a story behind it.

Stories are what make people empathize with each other and the company’s vision. Share a story on what makes this company and how do you see it in the future and people will share with you their thoughts and empathy. The rest will fall into place.

Vision in Strategic Planning

When I think about strategically planning a marketing campaign or a sales plan or even a financially driven plan about a promotion, I immediately think of: “What are my goals, what I want to achieve, and what have I envisioned to succeed in the future?”. So, what I first do is to set off what I want to achieve with this action, what is my vision? I believe vision is a concept in which we fantasize ourselves, the company, or others inside of it or a project, into what can I or we achieve out it. Besides, we can say vision in strategic planning is there to inspire us and to provide a roadmap to the future for the people that work with us. Eventually, we can easily translate that vision is based upon our imagination and our needs and wants for the future.

Planning is everything

Dwight Eisenhower said that “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything”. A statement that confuses everybody that reads it and has many meanings. From my point of view, I agree that plans are something that fluctuates all the time, and you cannot rely on them entirely. But, when I think of planning and combining it with the concept of vision, I can see what he was talking about. Plans are looked at objectively but planning is something imaginary. So, when planning a strategy, you are immediately called to action and that is to imagine or look ahead of what do you want to get out of it. That is called vision.

Ultimately, I believe that you need to first see where you see yourself (company, etc.) in five, ten, or fifteen years from now and then start to work backward, year by year, and strategically planning your way to what you have envisioned yourself.

Involving staff in visioning

Sharing the company’s vision with the people that work WITH you (and not for you, don’t get confused here) is vital for the company’s growth, smooth operation, and creation of value between the management and the personnel. The most important tool for this is storytelling. The best way to share your vision is by sharing the story behind it. Right now, there is nothing more important at creating value than that of stories and the language they are used to be told. There is this thing called internal marketing that people in HR are familiar with. It basically includes the idea of marketing between the management (company) and the staff. Including your staff in the company’s vision creates tons of value for them and for you. It’s a win-win strategy. I will say it again, you need to give them to understand that they are working with you into achieving the company’s vision and absolutely not for you. Resulting in your employees translating this vision into something else and thus not transferring the value to your end customer. Think about the consequences that have on your sales, growth, market share, etc.

Keep on Learning. New Completion certificate

Winston Churchill said “I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught”. That quote describes me right to the point, however, I do get inspired by the people that taught me things and especially things that interest me.

I recently completed my first copywriting course that was enormously helpful and simple put on how to land copywriting jobs with value to your customer and their target audience.

Of course I am not going to stop there. I will further educate myself with other courses around story writing for video game purposes or script writing.

And I will be quoting Mahatma Gandhi -“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever”. Until next time.

The Year That Changed my Life. The Beauty of Pivoting

Oh, my what a year this has been. I was researching a bit about: what happened in 2020? I was searching for a recap of this year and while I was reading through it, I realized how bad a situation the world and its people are in. To be honest, this year I was drifted away by my problems and how I was coping with them so that did not give me to read or watch the news around the globe as a result, not seeing what was happening. The only thing that hit me and EVERYONE else this year was and is the pandemic. But I am not going to bother you in this blog on how it f*** up everything. This article aims to give you a different perspective on things when everything else seems lost and to give you courage for the rest because we are not there yet, not even close.

What we learned for sure and what we must acknowledge is that: We shall not take ANYTHING for granted. I have always been that kind of person that said “Humans are always in search for the things they do not possess” which is good do not get me wrong but, most forget the things they already have and the people they have close to them. The pandemic reminded us of this, and I will point one thing out of many, and that is human relations and interactions. As much as technology has been evolved and made our lives easier and helped to overcome even the worst of situations it cannot replace the “old-fashioned or old normal”. How businesses and money circled around the pandemic so the world will not reach a halt is not as important as how some lost the everyday intimacy with the people they love and their families. Millions of people and counting have died from the situation and many were disturbed by the sickness and the feeling of isolation.

Currently, I am miles away from my place of birth, somewhat a stranger in another country living with my girlfriend who also left everything and everyone back home. After a year we started calling this place “home”. Struggling right now with the situation traveling is now, we started pivoting into other forms of trips so that we can fool ourselves into entering traveling mode. That is a small example of how you need to find the right pivot for you to help you overcome what is happening now. This will give you a different look at things and make you more creative thus, entering this new era of living stronger emotionally than you have ever been. Pivoting is also one of the good habits you need to adopt for you to take action. It is one of the most creative measures you can do to overcome any problems coming your way.

With all that is happening right now although, we must fight laziness. This pandemic’s characteristics require us to stay home A LOT and that makes us lazy. Again, finding the pivoting point will be your escape plan from this situation. I have been hearing from the news that the businesses that were created this year were twice as many as the previous year. Turns out people have found their pivoting point to turn this situation into their advantage. Some of the greatest businesses in the world were created because something went wrong and they had to pivot their direction instead of closing down, that applies in life too. So, start working little by little, doesn’t have to be something only just to make money but something you love doing, there would be no other reason in doing it.

Complications for students in corona time

Oxford Language dictionary defines “complication” as “a thing that is hard to accomplish, deal with, or understand” and in my personal humble opinion it certainly summarizes my post. But, let’s take it back a little bit… January 2020 I applied for a Bachelor degree program in a university of applied sciences here in Finland in the field of business. A few months after my application I received the decision and fortunately I was accepted to start my studies in August 2020 and they will last until December 2023. Of course, the pandemic didn’t have the “publicity” and the “fatality” it has now one year afterwards. So, my mind could have not imagined the situation we are going through now as students. I am a freshman now in a new school/university and not having the possibility to meet my teachers, visit my school facilities, interact with my fellow students and maybe work colleagues in later life, feel the anxiety of standing in front of people, working together in groups to achieve your goals, learn from one another and having that feeling of being behind a desk sharing your thoughts and ideas with the rest of the class. Most of those I have described are not functional right now and maybe one or two you are getting half the cake.

I had the luck to move in Finland way before the situation excavated so at least I am in the same country and city my university is operating. However, most of my fellow students are not even at the same continent. This university program I am in and a lot of others in Finland, is in English resulting in many people around the world to study in these programs, people from third-world countries or “underdeveloped” ones, wanting to search a better education system abroad. For those people I took the inspiration to share my post today. They participate in every online lecture the school has despite their technical difficulties, job obligations or family commitments. I really admire their will and strength of commitment to the classes with not even a taste of feeling as a student abroad would have. Sometimes people forget about somebody’s status in life and under which circumstances they study. For many this is not a fair game. Schools in Finland of course have provided all the tools for those that are very far away from place of the university and honorably they have done a very good job and we mustn’t forget that they only had one summer to figure out with the government’s instructions how the next semester(s) or school year(s) will carry on so hats-off to them.

Going back to the complications, students, starting in a new university not being able to be here is a killing blow. Imagine getting the job career you have ever dreamed of, abroad to a new country with different culture, way of life, mindset and climate (sounds exciting, right?), and you are supposed to start sometime in the future and a few weeks before you start they call you and tell you – Hi, we decided to turn your department into a remote job. Or even telling you -Hi, turns out we filled the position with somebody else (maybe somebody local). That is how I felt weeks before starting my studies. I knew I was starting in the university months before but the situation along the way prepared me for this remote-studies decision few weeks before. Eventually, now nearly at the end of the fall semester I couldn’t be anymore thankful for the work my school and teachers have put into not losing the whole year instead continue as (the new) normal and working through days and nights and even weekends for the students to not feel alienated within a new experience and study place.

Until next time,

Daniel

Some thoughts on Entrepreneurship

After two lectures this week both referencing on entrepreneurship, it gave me the idea that it is something huge and a great deal to start with. Understanding the meaning of entrepreneurship is difficult.

The idea though to start something that is your own and gives you the flexibility and the freedom to move around without having to give anyone reports is intriguing. When I started researching a bit more, I found out that there are more pros than cons. Sure, there are a lot of obstacles that may fall before you and you need to think about the future before every step but those are part of this meaning. The freedom of movement will give you time and with the right time management skills you will be able to cope with a lot of work that will surely be in your way.

Regarding freedom, if the object of your new start-up allows it you can also do remote work. Working from anywhere you like is the future. Remote work in our days is key to keep a business running, to have the products/services on track and running and still making profit even if you are not in your natural place. Also, something that will also keep you motivated is that you get to be the boss of you. You get to decide everything and anything in ways you want, and you think is better for your start-up and with that in mind you get to work for you and nobody else anymore. How to make money should always be in our mind when we want to start-up a new business.

If you drive it to success you will make more money than your standard job as an employee of someone else. But first there are some skill you need to acquire before and during the process of entrepreneurship. Most important of all is passion. You need to have passion for the business idea, passion for the work and the journey you are about to embark and having passion results in motivation.

Another thing is creativity, the ability to make your product or service unique to stand out from the competition and not be afraid to get competitive. In addition, you need to be open-minded for other people’s opinion and ideas and how to apply those ideas in your business. With all that you must be persistent and not to be afraid to fail because that is how you will learn how to better at what you do.

Lastly, for the question if I could be an entrepreneur, is that I’m unsure right now because I’m missing the most important and that is passion.