Why Marketing to Your Boss and Co-Workers is Essential

Maybe you’ve fantasized about quitting, but you’re not ready to give up your steady paycheck, 401k, or insurance.

There is a quick alternative. Transform your current job into a job you love by engaging with its full potential, marshaling the resources around you, and seizing the opportunities that are there for the taking.

An essential step in transforming your job is learning to market to your boss and co-workers, as I suggest in “The Quit Alternative: The Blueprint for Creating the Job You Love…Without Quitting.”

Marketing is ultimately owning the effectiveness of your messages. Let me explain …

The Moment I Knew Marketing to My Boss and Co-Workers is ESSENTIAL

Ever considered why some messages you write or speak either:

  • resonate and compel others to action, or
  • create a misunderstanding or fall flat?

Marketing your messages also means taking responsibility for the outcome. It’s not what you say, it’s what people ultimately hear that often determines the success of your communication.

Here’s a personal example. We were in the final stage of a major contract and going all in as an organization. The contract meant either a flood of new growth or a major loss of business. I was on the negotiation team and desperate for seven of our company locations across the U.S. to confirm whether they could deliver on the customer’s demands.

We were in a crisis time crunch, so instead of telephoning I sent an email with this message in the subject line: “Please Respond ASAP.”

An hour passed. Only one location responded, probably because she was a friend of mine.

Everyone knew how important this was, and I couldn’t believe the delay. In my anger, I sent another message with this headline: “Your Job and Mine Could be at Stake.”

I received responses from all locations within minutes, and we confidently closed the deal.

In that moment, I understood the importance of owning my messaging.

Market to Your Boss, and Help Your Career

I struggled to write this article, because of my corporate roots. In organizational life, we don’t market to each other well. We rely on job titles, authority, and sheer goodwill to persuade others to act.

These tactics can get the job done in the short term, but over time they lose their effectiveness.

Escalating demands up the organization chart becomes a bit like the boy who cried wolf. Escalate too many times, and before long, people stop responding.

Far more advantageous and empowering is to direct your marketing toward the boss and co-workers. Developing this skill gains you more influence and the capacity for a much greater impact within the organization.

Own the Effectiveness of Your Messages

Joseph explained that no one listened to him at the office. He’s a leader in his field, and has been the resident expert for well over two decades. He’s dedicated and truly cares about his company.

He knows what should be done to make things better, but no one seems to listen.

For years, he’s been telling everyone how to fix things, but nothing’s happened, and in many cases, they’re heading in the wrong direction.

He’s frustrated, burned out, and ready to hit the eject button. He’d pretty much given up making any difference in his current position and was contemplating moving to another company, although without high expectations.

Although Joseph’s situation sounded bleak, we discovered something that worked for him. In place of the same old story of “I’m not being heard,” he shifted to “I’m not getting my message across.”

He began to think like a masterful marketer in how he framed the problems and solutions. This simple shift put him in control, and things began to change when he became the player, instead of the victim.

Imagine if everyone at the office began owning their own communication, and taking charge of who hears the message and how well it’s understood.

Things would change!

The next time you find yourself feeling frustrated at the office, ask yourself, “How can I more effectively get my message across?”

One Simple Marketing Question That Reduces Anxiety

When I get stuck on a project or anxious about a big talk, I go back to that simple question: “How can I more effectively get my message across?”

Just reflecting on it calms me, reminds me why I do this work, and propels me forward.

Answering this question takes your thoughts instantly away from your ego and back to your capacity to help others. It’s like standing on stage and shifting the spotlight back onto the crowd. You relax, and you’re able to compose a more effective message to reach the intended audience.

Action: Apply this question when planning the introduction to your next meeting. Write out the question, along with a few ideas in response, addressing how the meeting serves the attendees. Share these ideas with them when you kick things off. Notice how much the message you’ve crafted resonates. Note: If you can’t think of any ways that the meeting serves the audience, consider canceling it.

How to Market to Your Boss and Co-Workers to Get What You Want

To craft even more effective messages for the boss and co-workers, employ these three additional marketing strategies:

  • Meet them where they are. Consider the audience before writing an email, leading a call, or presenting, or your message may fall flat. How does your message address a problem they’re currently facing? This is critical, especially in creating an email subject line or presentation title. Otherwise, you’ll lose your reader and your audience before you begin.
  • Lead with WIFM. It’s incredibly helpful to assume that the audience is always wondering, “What’s in it for me?” (Tagged WIFM in marketing circles.) Instead of making them guess, offer the answer upfront to build engagement and interest, no later than the third sentence of any conference call or presentation. And include the answer in the reference line of all emails. You’ll probably notice an immediate difference in the responses you get. “Please Respond ASAP” had no WIFM. “Your Job and Mine Could be at Stake” put it out there directly and won a much quicker and complete response.
  • Prioritize the call to action. I read a lot of emails and sit through presentations and conference calls that do not present a clear next step or even ask people to do anything. For better results, begin your next email or meeting by asking yourself what you want people to do afterwards, and work backwards from there.

Pay For Your MBA with OPM

Sometimes packaging your message well means avoiding the need for negotiation altogether, even when you’re asking for something big. When I first thought about asking my company to pay for my MBA, I thought about it as a negotiation. Remarkably, the success I had was more about how I owned my message and identified it as a marketing opportunity.

My organization had never paid for anyone’s MBA before, and attending classes would limit my travel schedule. I was prepared to make significant concessions with my job and even my salary, but I never had to go there.

The end result was the organization agreed to pay most of the MBA costs and to support my taking time off to attend class and team projects. I continued to deliver results at work while I went to school. I had a great experience and even laid the groundwork for my co-workers to do the same.

Here’s how I applied these marketing strategies to get the results I wanted:

  • Meet them where they are. Before I made this request, I thought about it from my boss’s perspective. What would his concerns be? Who would he have to persuade? What experience did he have with this type of request? What would be most important to him? I knew their primary concern would be whether I could maintain my current workload and deliver a return on their investment in the MBA. I made sure to address those points when I presented the idea.
  • Lead with WIFM. I imagined that my boss was sitting there thinking “What’s in it for me,” so I led with WIFM, despite the temptation to start my presentation with how important it was to me to obtain an MBA. I led with the benefits for the boss and the organization, and I never mentioned how it would benefit my career (although they probably understood that). I did my research to understand the curriculum and talked to alumni of the program. It was easy then to link the MBA to enabling me to contribute more and make a bigger impact in my current role. I even pointed out school projects from the curriculum that I could complete in a dual capacity to deliver savings for our organization.
  • Prioritize the call to action. Although we reached a verbal agreement by the end of the meeting, the details were still fuzzy. I anticipated this result, so I drafted a letter of support in advance that only required a signature and to write in the amount they would contribute. At the end of the conversation, I made the call to action very simple: I pulled out the letter and asked my boss to sign. We hadn’t figured out all the logistics of making the payment, but I walked out of the office with an agreement in writing. I felt great, and he did too.

How to Test Marketing in Your Workday Right Now

You can try this idea in your workday right now and evaluate its effectiveness for yourself. Open your email and look at the last three emails you’ve sent.

Do these messages meet them where they are, lead with WIFM, and include a clear call to action? If not, consider resending and notice any difference in the responses.

This article is an excerpt adapted by Ben Fanning from his forthcoming book, “The Quit Alternative: The Blueprint for Creating the Job You Love….Without Quitting.”

Ben Fanning is Chief Engagement Officer at, where he helps employees transform the job they have into the job they love. This article is an excerpt he has adapted from his forthcoming book, “The Quit Alternative: The Blueprint for Creating the Job You Love….Without Quitting.”

Photo Credit: Natalini Cristian via Compfight cc