Are You Your Own Underdog?
In my first post, I wrote that I believe that a good deal of in-plants perceive themselves as underdogs. It would be easy to do so. You hear stories about closings and the inability to get the support of management, and many of you are under constant pressure to maximize your operation while your budget and headcount are reduced. But is your perception part of the problem?
Could a Change in Your View Change How Others Perceive Your In-plant?
I’ve worked for a number of companies in my career. Rarely have I seen budgets and staff increase. Budgets and staff have been and will continue to be an ongoing concern. What if your perception and how you convey it are part of the problem? Are you unwittingly contributing to the perception that your in-plant isn’t valuable? What if you instead tell the story of your successes to your customers and parent organization? What if you create annual plans and build business cases to show the return on investment (ROI) that demonstrates the need and benefits to the organization? You can be sure that another fill-in-the-blank department is probably not going to be given the latest equipment or technology without first showing why it’s needed and how it will help the organization. Why should the in-plant be any different?
Being Unique Like a Unicorn May Hurt You
Part of what I think contributes to the perception issue is that no one else in the organization offers the services that you do. And so, no one understands what you do. They don’t “speak your language,” don’t know the good work you do, etc. It’s your job to educate them and do so in their language. You can’t build advocates if they don’t understand your benefits and results and how vital your work is to the organization.
A friend of mine was the only person at a healthcare plan that handled the social media function. Very quickly the organization that thought they had wanted a social media presence because they “needed it,” eliminated the role. It’s been said before, you are not just “a printer” and telling customers you can print two-up with a model 2000 XYZ probably won’t generate a lot of buzz. In a presentation by the Fairfax County, Va., in-plant manager, Mike Gatti suggests:
- Know your audience
- Know their hot buttons
- Talk value over price
- Use visuals to help tell your story
I would add that you must communicate as often as possible how you help:
- Departments communicate with customers
- Win new sales
- Protect “the brand”
- Support the mission of the organization
- The organization purchase life-saving equipment with the savings from bringing $1 million of printing back in-house, etc.
If you share benefits and stories like these, you are probably going to be perceived in a more positive light and less like a unicorn. Let me know how you’re changing the perception of your in-plant at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elisha Kasinskas is Rochester Software Associates’ (RSA) award-winning marketing director. She is responsible for all marketing, public relations, social media and communications, and community building for the firm. Ms. Kasinskas joined RSA in 2010. She is a marketing veteran with more than 20 years of experience in sales, product management and marketing in leading product and service business-to-business and business-to-consumer firms, including Pinnacle (Birds Eye) Foods, Level 3, HSBC, and a number of regional high-tech firms. She holds an RIT MBA and a BS, Marketing from Radford University. Kasinskas is a frequent moderator for industry speaking sessions, an in-plant blogger, and has received industry awards including the IPMA Outstanding Contributor award. She was an OutputLinks Women of Distinction class of ’15 inductee. Her marketing work with IPMA has secured multiple awards from the American Marketing Association (AMA).