May: Marketing Great Fire Departments: It's an Inside Job First

One of the fundamental tenets of marketing is that it is difficult (if not impossible) to market a low quality product or service. It may be possible to make the first sale, but if the quality is poor, it will probably be the last sale as well. 

The same is true about organizations. Now, this is not to say that organizations and corporations don't market good products and services. But the real effectiveness and growth of any organization, company or fire department are dependent on how great each member believes his/her department can be. This greatness depends on how each firefighter feels about himself/herself, and the role each member plays in the department.  And much of that feeling depends on departmental leadership.  

Citizens are entitled to the finest safety and protection their department can deliver.  It may be that the department is doing the job, but there may be turmoil within the department. That could include a lack of mission and vision or a lack of good leadership. It is not only important to do a good job, but it is equally important to feel very good about your organization. Also important is that your leaders hear you, your concerns and ideas. This kind of leadership engenders superior service and the desire to go beyond what is required. You can accomplish amazing, ground-breaking things with the knowledge of this kind of support. This is called empowerment. 

Firefighters need to feel their leaders will protect them when they think outside the box. They need to know that they care as much about the firefighters as the citizens they protect.

This has to do with organizational culture and an environment that expects and empowers great action beyond expectation for our citizens and each other. Then the marketing has the meaning that gets results from the support of the citizens.  It may seem like the small, "soft stuff," but it is really the big, "hard stuff.'"

In today's competitive environment superior quality service is the only way to market.  And that begins with an inside job.