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Think back to the last time you walked into a store. It can be any store — department, grocery, even a convenience store. Try to remember the experience. Maybe you rushed in towards the items you needed. Or maybe you browsed around aisle by aisle. After selecting your items, you made your way to the checkout, paid the total and walked out with a shopping bag.
How many store employees did you interact with during your journey?
Did anyone greet you?
Did you ask for help?
Were employees pleasant or disengaged?
Did the cashier talk to you?
Did you have issues during checkout?
Were your items handled with care?
How did you feel when you left the store?
Store associates are an operational necessity. Retailers need people to stock shelves, answer questions and collect money. But consider this: store associates are interactive advertising. On shift or off, employees are critical marketing assets.
Marketers are laser focused on their channel performance constantly monitoring the last email’s performance, checking click-through rates on social ads and watching for conversion rates on their re-targeting campaigns. There are dozens of marketing channels to strategize, create and execute daily. However, without the knowledge, skill and support of your store associates, your marketing program will never be complete.
Store associates can seem out of reach as a viable marketing channel, often because they fall under a different area of the corporate umbrella. Yet, it’s critical that marketers plan for employee engagement in their initiatives and work cross functionally to align the goals and measurement of success. Here are three key ways to incorporate your employees into your marketing program:
1. Communicate & Train
Your employees want to be successful in their roles, and to do that they need information. Empower your associates with details on the program you are running (whether it’s a promotion, branding campaign or event). Your employees need to know why it’s important to the company, how it’s valuable to customers and what they can do to help drive the initiative. It may be as simple as sending a flyer on a promotion or a comprehensive associate training on your brand their role in the customer’s journey.
2. Engage & Recognize
Employees want recognition for their accomplishments. There are many ways to engage and recognize team members – from small kudos to large scale incentive and rewards programs. Consider consulting with incentive professionals to help model behaviors at the associate level and determine the best approach to engage and recognize your team.
3. Measure & Highlight
Just as important as communication and recognition, how you follow up is critical. Most marketing programs end when the promotion or event ends, and only the marketing team looks at the post-campaign results. This is a missed opportunity to further engage your employees. Consider doing a one-page recap of your marketing program and highlight areas or associates that really hit the mark. This will show your employees what success really looks like and provides context for them to start using today, not just when the next event rolls around.
Remember, your marketing program can never be truly successful without including front-line personnel. Disengaged employees with little knowledge or empowerment will inevitably damage the brand perception and the customer experience. However, informed and inspired employees can engage your customers and create a positive experience that drives success in your business and elevates customers’ perception of your brand.
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