Leveraging Your Greatest Sales & Marketing Assets – Intellectual Leadership
Net: CEO’s and other company leaders with a enterprise view of their operations are uniquely positioned to identify and share best practices in all areas. This opportunity can be greatest in organizations that operate in multiple locations with a lot of entrepreneurial flexibility to pilot new ideas, especially in sales and marketing. One way to capture best practices if to identify your brand’s most compelling assets and challenge yourself and other leaders to make sure you are utilizing both your most powerful messages and the most effective 21st Century communications media for sharing them.
My education as a consumer marketer wasn’t always pretty. Among other screw-ups (see Leading by F***ing Up), our launch marketing campaign for AIR MILES Canada was so bad it was featured in a popular case study taught at the University of Western Ontario’s Ivy School of Business. But somehow we managed to correct, learn from and survive from our mistakes and went on to enroll over 70% of Canadian Households as active members in the program and the company (now the LoyaltyOne Division of Alliance Data NYSE ADS) continues to win awards as one of the most recognized and respected brands in the country.
One of the insights we had in our earliest days was to make sure we identified and leveraged every potential sales and marketing asset available to us. That included assets like the phenomenal support of our partners like Canada Safeway, Shell and Bank of Montreal/ MasterCard and the opportunity to co-brand our start-up with these extraordinary franchises. We also created opportunities for partners to share their co-branded marketing, data-based direct mail, email and social media marketing and the business results from these initiatives at quarterly MAB (Marketing Advisory Board) meetings.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend several inspirational Year Up Graduations, from Miami to Atlanta to NYC. In addition to hearing the incredible stories of transformation told by the young adults we serve, I also noticed a number of “best practices” being implemented by our regional teams across the country. On the flight back to Boston, I took a few minutes to reflect on the most powerful assets available to all of us who work at Year Up that can be leveraged to communicate our value proposition to the organization’s stakeholders, including our corporate partners and potential targets, our investors, future employees and students. Realizing that I have not always been the most thoughtful and strategic about leveraging these assets, I sketched out a small matrix to use as a kind of “check list” for our work:
The matrix forces us to think about the potential assets available to us when preparing for stakeholder engagement – Year Up Student Success Stories; the Value our Corporate Partners tell us they receive from working with Year Up; our incredible growth of the number of students we have served (from 22 to 4,000) and the corporate partners who have hired them (from 12 to 250+); and the endorsements of third parties, including leading industry groups, foundations, investors, academic institutions and others. It also reminds us to use the most effective 21st Century communications media to share these assets.
We originally used this when developing a strategy to grow our partnership with individual companies, but more recently are also using it as we think about maximizing opportunities within industry verticals like finance, insurance, health care, technology and education.
If you are interested in learning more about Year Up’s assets and media/ communication opportunities, a few details follow:
- The voice and transformational stories of the young adults we serve.
Ideally, we would all be able to take at least one student with us to every Year Up stakeholder meeting, or better yet, to get every stakeholder or influencer to spend some time at one of our amazing sites with a few students. But we don’t live in an ideal world and can’t always do that.
The good news is that we have several options for virtually bringing our students to stakeholder engagements, including the incredible student success stories produced by our marketing group, student pictures and quotes like the ones in our presentations and our screen savers and many incredibly powerful videos, including the 60 Minutes episode; our Cyber Security video that features CISO’s from leading companies like LinkedIn, Symantec and Salesforce and several students and the JP Morgan Chase video staring several AML and other alumni working at Chase and (then CIO) John Galante. Our marketing team also recently developed a 90 second video “mashup” that combines clips from the GE Year Up Partnership video with those from Angel Navarez’ graduation speech. It is one of the most powerful and efficient ways we know to explain what we mean by “Crossing the Opportunity Divide.”
- Year Up’s growth and track record of success
Although we are all used to seeing this chart, business leaders and other stakeholders often have the following reaction: “Wait, it looks like you continued to grow right through two recessions” – something most companies were not been able to do.
The leading nonprofit strategy consulting firm Bridgespan recently named Year Up as the largest, fastest growing and most successful youth serving organization founded this century. That quote, when combined with a chart like the one below, almost always resonates with our corporate partners, business development prospects and other stakeholders:
- The world class brands and incredible support of and feedback from Year Up’s corporate partners
The privilege to use our corporate partners’ logos and – in many cases – literally co-brand Year Up with so many of the country’s largest and most respected companies and other leading enterprises is another incredible asset.
We have been able to do this since our earliest days and at times, it might be something we almost take for granted. But those of us with entrepreneurial experience can assure you that most nonprofit and early stage for profit companies would die to be able to co-brand their enterprises with JP Morgan Chase, Salesforce, Harvard University, Facebook, Google, GE and so many others.
We recently added these charts showing the growth of two of our largest partners alongside the one above to demonstrate that Year Up has clearly been able to “serve our mission through the market:”
We also recently realized that we have been collecting Net Promoter Score (NPS) data as part of our Week 14 Internship Feedback Survey. NPS is one measure of customer satisfaction that is used by many of our largest partners, including JP Morgan Chase, Facebook, AT&T and GE. The NPS survey is deceptively simple, asking only one question: On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely would you be to recommend Year Up to a friend or colleague? The NPS score is calculated by subtracting the percent of “0-6” responses from the percent of “9 and 10” ratings.
Average scores are published annually for many industries. An NPS of 30 or higher is considered positive. The average NPS Score from Year Up’s partner intern managers is 50 and ranges from 30 to 59. The chart below compares recent Year Up NPS scores from several partners with the average NPS score of 14 for the U.S. staffing agency industry over the past seven years.
Another powerful way to share the success of our interns, graduates and alumni is through relevant quotes, like these from the 60 Minutes Episode about Year Up:
- Third party endorsers.
Many highly respected third party experts, leaders, publications and organizations have endorsed Year Up’s model and results, including The Bridgespan Group, 60 Minutes, Harvard Business School, American Banker and others. Although not all of these endorsements will have the same impact with each stakeholders, over our 17 year history, we have received an impressive number of awards, business school case studies, and articles in respected publications and you can almost always find a relevant third party endorser that will resonate and add gravitas to Year Up for most stakeholder groups – corporate partner vertical, foundation, investor or community leaders.
One way to think about how effective you are at using these four assets is to refer to this matrix that lays out your assets and the media you can use to bring them to life in the most effective way possible:
We are not suggesting that you share or present multiple media sources of each asset in every stakeholder meeting. We are suggesting that you use at least one media type (e.g. data driven charts, corporate partner testimonials) for each asset during your initial meetings to understand which asset and format hits both the “heart and head bulls eye” of those you are pitching to buy your products and services and/ or support your mission. Once you understand what message and medium is most effective to your specific stakeholder, you can then tailor future communications to emphasize those assets and media that area most effective with him or her.
We would love to hear your thoughts on creative ways you have used the assets of the enterprises you have led and the media you have used to showcase them.