The concept of self help has taken on epic proportions the media, with everything from books to the latest TV talk show host offering insights on how to improve personal relationships, environments, and outlooks. Despite the tired clichés, the concept of self-help is a powerful one, and equally important to businesses.
In its simplest definition, self-help provides a mechanism for others to accomplish their own objectives. As such, it’s well suited to address a range of marketing needs across a distributed marketing network:
- CRM and Leads Management
- Access to Marketing Materials and Customization Requests
- Ad Fund / Co-op Dollar Requests and Distribution
- Localization of marketing support across countless markets
Self-help systems can be as simple as FAQ copy or as sophisticated as content management system. Whichever end of the spectrum systems falls on, they provide exceptional user value. First, most companies don’t offer 24 hour customer service, so self help availability lets users accomplish what they need to when they need to. In addition, making changes themselves alleviates the need for users to document and communicate this information to another party, then depend on them to take care of updates. Self-help marketing systems may be able to offer more competitive pricing or discounts by letting them manage some of their own needs, especially when automating and coordinating the collective buying power of your local marketing network.
Self help provides tangible benefits when used internally too. When employees understand how to quickly find answers about the marketing programs, assets, or reports, work isn’t held up by disrupting those “in the know” or when a key employee is out to lunch or on vacation. It can also speed up the employee or vendor on-boarding process by giving them access to company policies, training manuals, and process guides. In addition, encouraging or expecting people to try and find the answers themselves may provide the added benefit of fostering employee initiative and entrepreneurial skills.
Self help systems also create corporate memory, a historical chronicle detailing important information from an earlier time that can help make the company run smoothly (yes, there finally is a way to keep track of what each local reseller marketed several years back). Ultimately, giving your local sales channels the ability to help themselves, and providing an easy to get what they want and need, is a satisfying and productive solution for everyone.
About the Author
Gary Ritkes oversees all Business Development and Marketing at SproutLoud. He has been a pioneer in the emerging vertical of Distributed Marketing Technology and is an industry leader and innovator with 20+ years experience in graphic communications and marketing strategy. Gary has been involved with SproutLoud since the inception of the company. Prior to joining SproutLoud, Gary was VP of Marketing for Rex Three, Inc., SproutLoud’s first and largest vendor among its network of providers. He has served many Fortune 1000 clients and worldwide advertising agencies in providing marketing technology direction and optimization. He was an original founder of U.S. based Earth Color Group and a co-founder of Advanced Digital Services (ADS) which was sold in 1996 to publicly traded Katz Digital Technologies. He is a current board member of the local Advertising Federation chapter and has served as a member for other national industry associations including the DMA, AGA, and the CMO council.More Content by Gary Ritkes