Are you looking for new ways to attract clients and increase business? Maybe you’re considering investing in a full-blown marketing campaign or costly advertising?
Consider this – you already have access to your most powerful brand promoters – your employees. By devoting time and energy in your people you can build a team of brand ambassadors that will model your company values and take your company to new heights.
Think about your company’s brand
Your business identity, or brand, is what sets it apart from the crowd. It’s a mix of what it is, what you want it to be and what people perceive it to be. Defining it is a journey of self-discovery for your business.
Here are things to consider when defining your brand:
- What is your company’s mission?
- How does your company benefit your customers?
- What qualities do you want your clients to associate with your company?
Consider your company’s look and feel. Is it fun and energetic? Conservative and serious? Are you offering a low-cost, value service or a high-cost, high-quality one? Do you pride yourself in giving back to the community?
For example, if you want to create a friendly brand, you may want to encourage employees to be more conversational and informal in your email, written correspondence and imagery. More traditional? Keep it formal, business-like.
Knowing your brand is important because it identifies what your business stands for and establishes its presence – both externally and internally.
Make your message clear
Being aware of what other people are saying about your company is critical. To this day, when it comes to recruiting new customers and employees, word of mouth and referrals trump advertising. When your brand coincides with what is being said in the marketplace, you know you’re building a solid reputation.
A CareerBuilder survey estimated that 35 percent of employers use social media as way to promote their companies and recruit new employees.
“As communication via social media becomes increasingly pervasive, organizations are harnessing these sites to help achieve a variety of business goals,” said Jason Ferrara, vice president of corporate marketing for CareerBuilder. “Social media allows organizations to communicate in ways that didn’t exist ten years ago, promoting their services and brands while also supplementing their recruitment strategy.”
Social media is unparalleled when it comes marketing your business. But it can also be a source of anxiety. How do you control what employees are saying about the company? What is appropriate to post and what’s not?
Provide employees with a documented social media policy so that they have a clear understanding of what is appropriate to say and what isn’t. Then, trust that they will use good judgment. This way you’re setting them up to be the best brand ambassadors possible.
Knowledge is power
If you’re going to depend on your employees to share your brand, then they have to be educated about what the brand is and be invested in it.
Gallup asked more than 3,000 randomly selected workers to assess their agreement with the statement, “I know what my company stands for and what makes our brand different from our competitors.” In this study, 60 percent of executives strongly agreed; 46 percent of managers and 37 percent of other employees strongly agreed. But the greatest cause for concern is that 9 percent of other (non-executive, non-manager) employees strongly disagreed that they understand their company’s brand promise and brand differentiation. These are likely the employees who interact with customers every day.
Remember that your brand ambassadors will come from every area of your company – IT, accounting, human resources, etc. Keep in mind that Mary in accounting or Mike in the mail room might not have any knowledge about how to market your company or what branding is all about.
You can provide training on basic marketing to help bridge this gap and empower every employee to be actively involved in promoting your company. This will also go a long way in creating a connected workforce who are engaged and committed – the necessary ingredients to a successful business.
Living the brand
It’s important to integrate your brand into every aspect of your business – from how you answer the phones to what you say on your website to how your employees interact with clients.
Engaged employees put a face on your company brand to customers, the community and potential employees. When they interact in the community, on social media, in meetings with customers, or through emails they will communicate the spirit of your brand.
For instance, if your company prides itself on giving back to the community, providing your employees with paid time off to volunteer solidifies this value. It shows employees that you believe volunteering is important, so much so that you’re willing to pay them for the time they spend working in the community. And when potential customers continually see your employees at these community events, it shows them what your company stands for. After all, don’t actions speak louder than words?
No matter your brand, when your employees demonstrate it in their actions, it becomes an experience for those who come in contact with them.
Creating a successful team of brand ambassadors doesn’t mean that you strip your employees of what makes them unique. In fact, the opposite is true. By encouraging them to embrace their distinctive traits and combine them with the company brand you’re improving their ability to promote your brand. It’s not a competition of personal vs. corporate. It’s a blending of the two.
By helping them to understand their individual talents and how they contribute to the good of the company, you’re opening the door for creativity and unique branding opportunities. You can provide courses that help them to identify their personalities and talents. This can help them establish a connection between their abilities and the company goals. Each person has something to offer that is special. Embrace it.
Ready to learn more about how to improve your business?
Download How to Develop a Top-Notch Workforce That Will Accelerate Your Business to find more ways your business can keep getting better.