The first boss I had, after graduating college, taught me two* valuable lessons.
Lesson 1: Invest wisely so that you can make a lot of money, in a relatively short amount of time, so that you can retire early and become a ski instructor in Austria.
Lesson 2: You must treat internal customers like you would treat external customers. They aren’t going to use your product just because you work for the same company. You have to market to them and sell them on the value of your services. If you force your product on them, they will begrudgingly use it while they curse you under their breath. If you give them the choice, and they select your services, they will reap great rewards and will become your champions.
* To be fair, he was an amazing boss and he taught me many, many more lessons, but these are the two that are relevant for this post.
I took lesson 2 to heart and had the opportunity to put it into practice when I was hired as Web Analytics Manager at Spark Networks. I was lucky in that I was going into a company that had zero web analytics, I had a clean slate (one of the main reasons I took the job). As I began wrapping my head around the measure needs of the organization, I also began to think about how I would brand my practice. Branding to me was as important as the vendor interviews I was conducting.
You may think it silly but I created a small analytics company within Spark Networks — I called it “Sweet J Analytics” — I even talked the creative team into designing a custom logo so I could brand everything I possibly could.
Before I selected a vendor, I spent several months just talking to internal teams. It was my opportunity to sell my solution to them. Remembering the words of my boss, I knew they had a choice, be it company supported or not, to use my product. I’d been there before. Forced to use a company mandated product that didn’t work, and I found my own solution to the problem. I knew they had other options, it was my job to connivence them that my product was the best choice for them.
After selecting a vendor and rolling out tracking across our suite of sites, I created an internal web site where I shared industry news, recent analysis, and other measure necessities such as a corporate glossary, variable map, and web analytics road map. Of course, all of these things were clearly branded “Sweet J Analytics”. Even as the practice matured, the branding exercise never stopped. By now, I was working with my friend Hila Strong, we put together a bi-weekly newsletter featuring all things analytics and we continued to push the limits of what could be done with our analytics data. As our customers matured, we had to mature, if our product didn’t keep up, they would look somewhere else.
Never once did we take our internal customers for granted, they were paying for our services, literally. Each department that choose to partake of our services, provided a portion of their budget to cover our costs.
I’m am convinced that the lesson my boss taught me years ago is responsible for making the web analytics practice at Spark Networks as wildly successful as it is.
So, does your practice have a brand? If not, you better start creating one today!