The Importance of being liked


I used to work for a University IT Department, which after working in a corporate environment was an interesting change to make. Especially, as when I got there I discovered that the team I actually worked for (Testing and Quality Assurance) were not at all well liked! This was probably the first time I had to really consider the merits of marketing.

The whys and wherefores of why the team was so disliked within the department are probably irrelevant to this post, but suffice to say it was mainly personnel based (no not me!). The lack of engagement with the rest of the department was however problematic. No-one wanted to send any work to us! When you are supposed to be testing software before it is released to the users, it is not a good thing when people are bypassing you. Obviously there came a point where the management insisted that we all sit down together and come up with some PR and marketing strategies so that people were happy to approach us with work. We had to somehow sell ourselves. So what did we do?

Well first, we had to define what the problem was. Until you know your problem it is impossible to come up with a solution – this was, needless to say, an interesting discussion. But we worked this much out:

  • If people do not see what you can do for them, or understand how you can enhance what they do, they will not want to deal with you
  • If people do not actually understand what it is that you do in the first place, they will not want to deal with you
  • If you are grumpy and unapproachable, people will not want to deal with you
  • If you make it difficult for people to ask you to do something because the process you have in place for doing so is unmanageable, people will not want to deal with you 

So then, with a list of the issues to hand, brainstorming ensued as to how to tackle the lack of love. What could we possibly do to put right the gap that gaped between us and everyone else? This is what we came up with:

  • A Laminate – with a picture of the team and a ‘this is what we do’ summary. Everyone loves a laminate, right? 

People still do not want to deal with the team…..

So what is the moral of the story? Whatever it is that you are trying to engage with people about, be it getting some work, providing a service, selling a car, having fillies for sale or creating something personal to them; let people engage with and understand you and what it is that you can do. Be a provider of information and a creator of belief, and let people come to you with trust that you can provide them with something that matters. If you do, they will keep coming back, and they will bring others. Effort counts people.


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