Author Interview with Sybil F. Stershic (Author of "Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care")

January 19th, 2007

What was your motivation for writing a book?

To share my passion for internal marketing as a way to create a better workplace committed to both employee and customer satisfaction.

Here's the back story to my book. Early in my career in services marketing, I became aware that the employees' impact on customers (positive and negative) was an outcome of how employees themselves were treated. To ensure this impact was positive, I used marketing internally as a way to focus attention on employees -- based on the premise that to effectively take care of customers, you had to first take care of employees.

Although the workplace has changed significantly since I began working more than 30 years ago, the need for internal marketing still exists. I continue to meet managers who are hungry for guidance on how to better engage employees. In addition, too many companies still give "lip service" to employees as their most valuable asset.

What was the hardest part about the experience?

Dealing with fear and time pressures. I'm one of those writers who is intimidated by the blank page, but am OK once I get started. As for time, I had to balance my client workload with taking the time to work on my book. It was a good news/bad news scenario -- if business was up, I didn't have time to focus on my book. If business was slow, I could work on my book, but I also had to make time available to fill the business development pipeline.

How did you get a publisher?

Interestingly, I was fortunate to get a book contract offer on my first book proposal; although it didn't pan out as we couldn't agree on the book's size. Not wanting to contribute to information overload, my goal was to write a compact, easily read book (around 150 pages), but the publisher was looking for a book twice that size.

So I started over with other publishers and received several rejections. I considered self-publishing, but didn't like the available online options -- the books didn't look professional to me. I was motivated to get back in the game by a friend who self-published a high quality book. She found a graphic artist to design the cover and page layout, registered for the book's copyright and ISBN number, worked with a printer on production, and handled her own distribution & fulfillment. The process was way too overwhelming for me.

Then I found the perfect solution: WME Books ( -- a new type of POD (print-on-demand) publisher who offered author support services (editing, layout, copyright permission, etc.) along with marketing support and fulfillment. WME Books offered me more control than a traditional publisher and, by using print-on-demand, I'm not sitting on any unused inventory. Yvonne DiVita, WME Books founder, is a well-known blogger and very knowledgeable about online marketing, where most business books are sold these days. It's been a wonderful partnership with Yvonne and her team.

What are the takeaways that you hope people get from reading your book?

  1. The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel ... and if your employees don't feel valued, neither will your customers!
  2. You don't have to be a marketer to use internal marketing. It's a blend of marketing, human resources, and management that includes any effort that recognizes the importance of customers AND the employees who serve them.
  3. If you are not in a position to apply internal marketing throughout your organization, you can still have an impact on a smaller level such as a department, division or business unit.

What advice would you give a reader who was thinking about writing a book?

Regarding the book's content, the subject has to be one you're passionate about that is also of interest to others. As for getting your book published, I encourage you to consider print-on-demand publishing as an alternative to traditional publishing. Regardless of whether you decide to self-publish or work with a publisher, it's important to understand that you need to spend as much time marketing the book as you do writing it. Once your book is in print, your work isn't over ... but the result is so rewarding!

Sybil F. Stershic is a marketing & organizational advisor with more than 30 years of experience helping service providers strengthen relationships with customers and employees. She is the author of the recently released book on internal marketing, Taking Care of the People Who Matter Most: A Guide to Employee-Customer Care, published by WME books.

A graduate of Lehigh University, Sybil began her career in bank marketing. (The banks she worked for were merged into oblivion.) She launched her own business, Quality Service Marketing, in 1988 specializing in internal marketing and marketing/strategic planning facilitation. Sybil also conducts marketing workshops nationwide for business and nonprofit professionals and is a frequent speaker at national conferences.

Active in leadership and professional development, Sybil is a former Chairman of the American Marketing Association. She is also a member of BoardSource and the International Association of Facilitators.