Every business has a gatekeeper — someone to answer calls and keep the riff raff out in order to make your appointments more valuable. But gatekeepers go to bat for you and for your brand too.
We recently had a team member here at Newsletter Pro reveal a bright red tattoo of our brand’s paper airplane logo on her forearm. Now, you don’t need team members who are willing to go through body modification for your brand, but every business owner should recognize the importance of people who are trained and willing to speak on your behalf.
To my personal dismay, it came out that the tattoo was only temporary — a belated April Fool’s prank for our CEO, Shaun, who had been joking about brand tats at a Monday meeting. Although word spread through the office that it was indeed a fake, prior to the big reveal, Shaun was caught stressing about what he’d started, having seen the photo on our team Facebook page.
Chances are, you’ve got a team like ours — one that’s invested in your company’s success, willing to go to the mat for you, and represents your personal brand — but are you letting them know exactly how you’d like them to be doing that?
As a marketing company, we work with the gatekeepers of our clients’ companies. For example, a doctor signs up for a newsletter campaign. He’s bought in, understands the process, and wants to use it to grow his practice. However, his marketing director or office manager hasn’t necessarily been told all the “whys” behind newsletter marketing. And in an attempt to facilitate the campaign without all the information, they unintentionally sabotage the effectiveness of the practice’s newsletter.
To combat this problem, we’re working on systems to involve gatekeepers in the onboarding and set-up process much earlier, so they experience the same buy-in and dedication to the campaign that their company owner does.
But it doesn’t stop there. Gatekeepers are the office managers, marketing managers, salespeople, and other phone-wielding team members who are building ongoing relationships and new contacts with people outside your company. But what you may not think about is that practically anyone in the company is capable of speaking on your behalf (whether they’re armed with the right information or not).
There should be no guesswork. It’s one thing when someone on the team is scheduling appointments for you when you’re out of town. It’s another when information concerning marketing and sales is being communicated ineffectively, or your company is being misrepresented to customers or prospects. Even your best team members can cost you a lot of time and money, if they’re given the wrong information.
The best way to disseminate information on your brand and represent it properly is to delegate someone to be in charge of training team members. This person should be ready to create a bank of information on company values, lingo, processes, and goals, and make sure that information is an important part of internal training. Have this person initiate exercises each quarter to strengthen your team’s relationship to the brand.
You need to ensure everyone in the company is prepared to be your filter. Your team is your voice, and even the people who aren’t always client-facing need the same toolkit.
Daily and weekly updates are vital. Does your team know the wheelings and dealings that go on behind closed doors every day? Could they answer a question from the public without you standing over their shoulder? They don’t have to know every detail, but keep them updated on the big events, achievements, and goals. If it’s possible, make your team part of the goal-setting process, so they’re familiar with where the company is headed. Add team members to your calendar so they can see when you’re in the office and when you’re not.
In your updates (these can be emails, verbal check-ins, or even posts to your team’s private web page), make sure your team knows the difference between internal and external information. There should be a company-wide understanding of the company brand and how you want to present yourself to the world. If you create an environment where any individual team member can answer the phone and represent you well, you’re doing much better than most.
When it comes to your gatekeepers, communication is imperative to ensuring your ideas — especially your sales and marketing ideas — are being properly represented and accounted for. The most important thing? Keep everyone in the loop. If your gatekeepers have the right information, they’ll be better equipped to deliver that information to whoever walks through the door.
Your time is important, and a gatekeeper not only has to understand your schedule, but must know how to make an exception to your rule, should they need to. If they are guessing what you want instead of knowing what you want, you can run into huge problems when it comes to your business plans and marketing strategies.
Are you confident in your team’s ability to represent you to the public? How do you help your team stay up-to-speed and ready to speak on your behalf? Share your comments below!