The case for employee marketing
Last weekend, I attended the Stichting Marketing Congress 2010, which had as overall topic "Return on Relevance". A lot of interesting subtopics therein were discussed, like choice overload, innovation strategy and branded utilityâ¦
But what struck me the most as an issue that re-appeared in several presentations was the ‘look at your own employees first’-credo.
There was Menno Lanting, who reminded us of the simple fact that in the communication of a company, you’d better reflect your internal culture. After all, if you market your company and her products as “A” and you are actually “B”, aren’t you just lying to people?
Then there was David Sable, who made some very powerful statements, including “All digital is direct” (communicating online gives us the tools to have a direct conversation with individual consumers) and “Wen there is too much data, intuition gains on importance” (which will help you select the right kind of data you need). His most important point for me however, was that some of the most successful marketing communication cases, were driven entirely by the employees of a company. A great example here is Twelpforce that Bestbuy deployed, engaging employees to help their customers online with whatever expertise they personally have. Of course this isn’t only about the functional benefit of having experts accessible at any time, this is about the story that Bestbuy creates. I never had an interaction with the company before, but at this point it seems like a great bunch of people that are very excited about helping customers. I associate that with the brand, just by hearing the Twelpforce story.
Koen Delvaux consolidated the thoughts above, stating that it’s important to “harness the power of your employees as storytellers”. If you have a consistent culture throughout your organization, and you enable employees to be open about it, you have the most relevant and authentic communication machine ever. Sounds difficult? Sounds like you need incentive plans to get employees talking? As Steven said in an earlier blogpost: “Your biggest brand fans should be on your payroll.” (see: Word-of-mouth marketing has reinvented itself over the past two years) Now, if they are (or if you just treat them so well that they become brand fans), they will put in the effort and talk about their company for sure. After all, I went to the Stichting Marketing Congress on a day off and got up early the next morning to blog about it. How’s that for engagement?
In short, the message that I’d like to get across is the following 4-step plan:
- Look at your internal culture.
- If it’s awesome, go to step 4
- If it’s not awesome, start a quest to make it awesome.
- Your internal culture is awesome, so empower these awesome people to tell your story of awesomeness right away!
Agree? Don’t agree?