Your company’s best promoters are surrounding you, literally. Your employees have the potential to be your greatest marketers, but you have to put them in position to do so.
Now, what you have to realize is that being effective simply means that they are able to communicate a message on your behalf. Whether that message is positive or negative depends on what you have prepared them to deliver.
An Ineffective Message - How do your employees describe the company? When asked at a cocktail party to “Tell me what you do”, what are the answers likely to be given? “We’re an insurance broker,” (that will get them out of the conversation, but not deliver a powerful message). Maybe, “I work for a benefits consultancy,” (that will probably illicit some confused looks and suspicions of putting lipstick on the “insurance broker pig”). Really, what we “do” is rarely ever going to be exciting or generate passion. Unless you’re a professional athlete or a famous actor, the job or title will always be a little mundane.
An Effective Message – This has to be built around what makes your company special and unique in the marketplace. It has to be focused not on describing what your company does, but rather on the difference you make for you clients when you do what it is you do. It has to be built around a core purpose from which the employee can draw some level of passion and pride when speaking on your behalf.
Think about Southwest Airlines. In describing what they do, it would be fair to say that they are a transportation company, moving people. Instead, Southwest sees itself as being in the customer service business. For any particular passenger, they may be serving the need to reunite with a family member, close a deal, or to escape to a favorite vacation spot. Instead of focusing on simply delivering people from one place to another, Southwest reminds their employees that what they are really delivering is a customer service experience focused on “a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit”.
If you have ever flown Southwest Airlines, you know what I mean when I say that your employees have the potential to deliver the most positive message on your behalf (On a similar note, I recently flew another airline who seems to think they are in the business of providing the most uncomfortable 3 hours of your week. Believe me, they are succeeding in spades).
The Worst Message – The worst message your employees can deliver on your behalf is a message of indifference. If someone asks your employees about your company and the response is vague or dismissive, that will often be taken as a sign of indifference. Nobody wants to do business with a company (especially a service organization) who is staffed with indifferent employees. If a message of indifference were your blind date, he/she would be described as having “a great personality”.
So, your charge is to craft a message that communicates what it is that makes your company special and which will give your employees pride through association. At every opportunity remind your employees of the unique place you occupy with your clients and how, because of your efforts, they become better at what they do.
Photo by meddygarnet.