Are you someone that wonders why select companies grow and succeed year after year? Have you analyzed your marketing campaigns trying to find a way to better your bottom line without any resolution? Have you ever considered maybe it’s your internal marketing that needs a boost?
That’s right. Internal marketing. No more pushing information and deals on customers, it’s time to focus your attention on the heart of your company — the employees. Employees are the face of a brand. No matter how many TV ads you run or Facebook Ads you target, it’s humans who best communicate the brand’s what and why.
If employees are communicating the most with customers, then isn’t it important for them to know what the brand is and what the brand stands for? As Drew McLellan frames it, “the employees who are paid the least and told the least – interact with your customers the most. How confident are you that those employees even know what your brand is, let alone how they should communicate it?”
Having engaged employees, those “who will commit time and effort to help their organization succeed,” can make a world of difference as a company works to reach its goals. Aon Hewitt reports that “a disengaged employee costs the organization an average of $10,000 in profit annually.” The opportunity for improvement is immense as 74% of the average company’s workforce is made up of disengaged workers.
Improving organizational communication and employee education will help turn employees into brand advocates; advocates that help a company reach its goals by having confidence in communicating why its brand and products are the best.
Any business, large or small, can create engaged employees. All it takes is passion and effort from company leaders to communicate frequently, be accessible, and reward employees’ hard work. Here are 3 tips that will help strengthen internal relations:
1. Communication is key.
If you can not communicate with your employees then they can’t communicate with your customers.
What are you? What do you stand for? What are your company goals? These are all questions that need to be answered before an employee can become a brand advocate. Things like mission and vision statements should be readily available and talked through when training new or current employees. Having this background knowledge will help them see how the brand should be portrayed to others.
Mission and vision statements don’t normally change, but business stats, goals and promotions do. All of these things should be shared regularly with employees. Having the marketing department start a new promotion without telling the sales team doesn’t help anyone succeed. Take the time to educate your employees about new products and promotions. Show them why it’s beneficial to the customer. Use handouts, share marketing content, hold quick meetings or training sessions. All of this helps empower your employees to speak confidently about your brand.
Keep in mind communication isn’t a one-way street. In fact, listening to employees who speak with customers everyday can help fine-tune marketing and sales initiatives. Take a few moments to sit down with those working in customer service, community management, and sales to learn why certain promotions, content, and interactions are and are not working. Ask these employees what they would recommend to improve efforts. Initiating activities like this will give senior management valuable insight and help employees feel more connected to the organization.
2. Leadership needs to be present.
The Harvard Business Review ranked the top communication issues that prevent leaders from being effective. Five of the nine issues could have been prevented if management had been actively present for lower-level employees. Making an effort to walk the floors of your building, say “hi” to those you see, and even remember a few names, goes a long way in creating mutual-respect.
Here are a few ways to get leaders out from behind their desk and in front of employees:
- Hold and advertise monthly town halls. This gives management the opportunity to share news and progress reports, as well as gives employees the option to ask questions directly to their leaders.
- Take a handful of employees out to lunch on the company dime. Use this time to connect with employees and learn more about them on a personal level.
- Create fun initiatives that involve leadership. The goal of this is to allow for fun management-employee interaction. Hold contests where winners get to pie a leader in the face or race them in a fancy car. These events will surely get employees talking about the company in an exciting and engaging way.
- Build a presence on social media. Leaders working in larger global organizations have a harder time connecting with employees because of proximity. One way to bridge that gap is by having a presence on social media. Use your leadership profile to connect with employees. Share photos and videos of activities like the ones I mentioned above. You might be surprised how many likes and shares you get.
3. Reward your employees for their hard work.
Most employees would like their hard work acknowledged. Therefore doing so goes a long way in making them feel appreciated and in encouraging them to be brand advocates. Celebrate their achievements by giving them trophies, free swag, or even a simple honorary recognition. (Company sponsored team-building outings and monetary rewards also don’t hurt.)
Recognizing employees as an integral part of your business, and treating them as such, will make them want to be advocates for your organization. Implementing these three tips — even in the smallest ways — will work to strengthen internal communication and relationships so that your company can work together towards reaching its goals and satisfying its stakeholders.
How does your company use communication to build employee advocacy? Let us know in the comments below.