In a marketplace turned upside-down, sell the brand from the inside-out.
Companies must focus on those audience channels who are relevant purchasers and brand advocates, starting with those that will bring the biggest results and those they can reach effectively. So while the fragmentation of the mass market has made the challenge of communicating with consumers more daunting, it has also opened the door to communicating with an audience that wants to believe deeply in the brand, and to pass on that belief to consumers.
The "low hanging fruit" as far as your target audience, is actually your employees. If well-informed and embraced, they will have the greatest motivation to support the brand, and can make a big and positive impact on bringing your brand to life. Unfortunately, the needs of this audience may be overlooked by brands and their marketing teams focused on consumers.
By most accounts, workforce engagement is at an all-time low. The dispirit in corporate America has been characterized by growing numbers of layoffs, wage freezes, scandals and terrorism incidents around the world; this climate of uncertainty leaves many employees insecure and unsure about how to protect their jobs and financial futures.
Further, there has been a dramatic shift in workplace attitudes over that last decade lead by millennials who place greater emphasis on work-life balance and performing jobs and working in companies that give them a sense of purpose. Add to that the fact that more people are working remotely, which makes building cohesive teams and brand enthusiasm more challenging to achieve.
All of this affects brand loyalty starting from within.
How do you get the workforce back in the fold? Treat them how you would treat your most valued customers.
Buying and Selling
Much of daily life is transactional: buying and selling.
But life in the transactional marketplace goes well beyond the trading of goods and services. One could argue that these obvious staples of commerce are actually the smallest part of what is bought and sold.
Most of what is transactional in our lives concerns ideas, loyalties, commitments, schedules and passions. Nowhere is this in plainer view than at work. Everything, from salary to assignments, from promotions to changes in corporate policy, is ultimately rendered on the level of: 'If you do this, then, I'll do that'. It is a transaction.
Certainly, the roles of buyer and seller are not completely fixed. Employees often find themselves in the position of 'selling' to management: selling improvements, selling dissatisfaction.
But for the most part, it is management that finds itself selling to those close-in audiences that include employees, franchisees, dealers, the investment community, even vendors; every constituency just short of the end-user. And in this model, it is incumbent upon management to begin to look at this extended workforce for what it really is: the first line of customers.
Once the 'employee-as-customer' ethos becomes the operating point of view, time tested marketing tools become available for the sale of new ideas, shifts in policy, and even bad news. Most of all, this transactional approach---treating the employee as a customer--- is critical in securing the holy grail of all commercial enterprises: a workforce that lives the brand.
Strategies for Internal Branding
Communicate, communicate, communicate - across all social media platforms your company engages in
Keep employees informed about upcoming operations, product, marketing and policy initiatives and changes
Incorporate visual displays in your office design so that your employees can easily see approved media and communications, cutting out the need for employees to seek this information out and immersing them in #companylife
If a topic merits external telling, then be sure to inform employees FIRST
Foster relationships between senior management and your employee population through: company-wide emails, newsletters, company or division meetings, LinkedIn groups, Tweets, etc.
The more locations (offices, operations, sales), the more frequent the communication needed to create a shared vision, shared culture
If you have more employees that are at the main office on a day-to-day basis or have more than one location where employees operate, consider building a company intranetto create a closed environment specifically designed to support and promote your company's brand and culture and centralize communications
If you can't afford an entire intranet package, try using an internal social network or collaboration system such as Yammer or Slack
Produce an advertising campaign aimed at employees to build the company's culture, integrate after a merger, generate understanding, enthusiasm and motivate collective contributions towards workplace deliverables
Launch external-style campaigns with the most likely and most important cheerleaders - using Facebook or Instagram to visually present a new program or company direction is a great way to quickly garner enthusiasm and support
Conduct company employee volunteer programs with genuine company support
Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, Inc. helps companies build reputations and differentiate in a competitive market through thought leadership, public education, issues management, content strategy, and strategic communications. To find out how ICCC can help you and your company build your reputation contact firstname.lastname@example.org, call 212-399-0026 or visit www.ivycohen.com.