Marketers worldwide will spend nearly $575 billion on major media vehicles in 2015 in the race to the customers’ wallet.
With reams of data, hours of analysis and elaborate strategies, the customer is the grand prize that every business is chasing after in a bid to grow bottom lines as well as to establish a branded presence. In this mad rush, most marketers ignore the low-hanging fruits that can convert to ardent brand supporters with minimal effort: your employees.
Employees are a huge cost center for most companies, but they can be transformed into revenue centers by following a few simple rules. Interested?
Companies talk at length about motivating employees so that they speak positively about the brand in their social circles, but very few put their money where their mouth is. How many brands trusts an average employee (not a spokesperson, a PR team member or a CXO level employee) to represent them at marquee industry events and promote the brand at such prestigious occasions? A handful, probably.
Online retailer Zappos is one of the rare few. Zappos employees frequently speak at industry events on behalf of the brand and spread their insider enthusiasm to all those who care to listen.
Use your employees in brand building – from product videos that feature your employees to behind the scenes sneak peeks that introduce your team to the world, there are tons of ways to shine the spotlight on your employees and turn them into literal brand ambassadors.
One of the many temptations of working in retail is the attractive discounts that employees typically receive when they shop for in-house merchandise. These discounts are a hook that make employees choose your brand over competition and build a habit for life.
However, this does not have to be limited to retail businesses. Own a law firm? Offer employees substantially discounted legal advice and representation. Run a logistics company? Help your employees move for cheap.
Shopify is an example of a brand that inspires employees to walk the talk. Being an ecommerce platform means they encourage employees to start their own stores on the Shopify platform by equipping them with useful business tools completely free of cost. Complimentary tools like an invoice generator, a business loan calculator or even a QR code generator are attractive add-ons that go a long way to help a new business trim costs.
A strong employer brand attracts great talent to itself. It also motivates these talented employees to wear their association with such brands as a badge of honor. Just as most of us would be eager to talk to friends about our smallest brush with a celebrity, employees that work for strong brands feel a sense of pride by association and spread this positivity among their circles as a means of elevating their own social worth in the process.
The lesson here? Build a great product, develop a strong brand and employees would love to go to town talking about it.
More than anything else that you can say or do, live your brand in your own daily life. Be a brand ambassador yourself. If you’re a business owner, make your lifestyle a reflection of your brand – nothing makes an employee more gung-ho about the company they work for than an employer that truly believes in what she’s selling. Imagine trying to sell nutrition products and diet food if you yourself are overweight and unhealthy. Fat chance that anyone else will believe your spiel, right?
Brand owners that live their brand essence often become icons in their own right. Think of the daredevil stunts that Sir Richard Branson pulls from time to time. Not only does he put his brand – Virgin – in the news, he also embodies the carefree, fun and slightly irreverent brand personality that Virgin is famous for. The best part? Every time he does some outrageous stunt, you know the entire Virgin team is cheering him on from the sidelines. What more can an employer ask for?
Showing employees that you care beyond paying them a salary at the end of each month helps cement a bond of trust with them. Start with one of the most worrisome side effects of modern workplaces: a desk-bound life with little or no scope for physical activity of any kind.
People with desk jobs have twice the number of cardiovascular problems as those with jobs that involve standing or walking about. Many companies have come up with innovative practices to balance a sedentary work life.
Law firm Fowler White Boggs Banker dreamed up a “Start Walking” competition across its different offices and handed employees pedometers challenging them to take at least 1084 steps per day. Healthcare major Cleveland Clinic lives up to its health oriented image by placing employee health at the heart of their organizational culture. From free Weight Watchers memberships to free yoga classes, to creating running and walking groups for employees, this company lives by the motto of “Get up and get moving.”
Pharmaceutical major Astra Zeneca offers its employees points for every little healthy initiative they undertake from going to the gym to attending seminars on healthy eating. These points can be then be traded for new running shoes, home gym equipment, plasma TVs and vacation packages. It’s no wonder then that over 65% of their employees are enrolled these programs.
Healthier and happier employees make for walking (and talking) brand mascots like no other. And that’s in addition to savings in healthcare costs and a far more productive workplace.
Selling a product without truly believing in it, is like a dictator extolling the virtues of democracy. No one believes your spiel because it’s evident that you don’t believe it yourself.
Your employees spend the best part of their waking hours helping you build your business. The least you can do is help them do their jobs better. Go that extra mile and let them fall in love with your brand. The future you will thank the present you for it.
Rohan Ayyar fits into dual roles at E2M, a digital marketing agency where he’s involved in web analytics and creative content strategy, and at Moveo Apps, where he steers the UX process with a focus on conversions. Rohan is an avid blogger, with posts featured on Fast Company, Business Insider India and Entrepreneur, amongst others. Follow him on Twitter at@searchrook.
For more advice on winning at work from top influencers, download the free Salesforce e-book: