By Nigel Cooper, the Divisional Managing Director of Motivcom PLC, Managing Director P&MM Travel, Chairman of Zibrant, Chairman of AYMTM and former Chairman of trade association Eventia.
Selling and marketing your product and service to the public is a major challenge which every industry sector faces, but how do you get your own employees to buy into your brand?
1. Aim to obtain 'buy in' from employees at all levels.
A campaign is only truly effective if the whole company identify with and live with the brand values. I think of the brand as the "soul" or spirit of the business. A brand should be an outward projection of the inner belief.
2. Research for best results.
If the ultimate objective of a campaign is to change employee attitudes and subsequently, their behaviour, research is essential to develop a solid understanding of what attitudes exist and reveal how they can be changed.
From concept stage through to final delivery, when looking to drive the behavioural changes that all projects depend upon, knowing your staff and what motivates and encourages them is what will drive the change.
3. HR people are not marcoms people!
This is not meant to be disrespectful to the global HR community, but companies employ marketing communications experts to market their brand and values to customers, so why not the staff!
Many employee branding programmes fail because the message is not compelling or personal enough or because they are under-funded and under resourced.
Take into account your audience age groups, and demographics where possible and find the right collateral, theme, and appeal which will grab their attention.
4. Form working parties to define the brand.
Companies will need to form working parties across the business to define what they believe the brand should stand for. This in turn will effect the values that the staff and the company should live up to.
5. Apply internal marketing - the same principles and many of the same processes as brand marketing to customers.
The difference is that it is focused on influencing the attitudes and behaviour of staff. The core of a marketer's role is to be the guardian of his or her product.
This translates into understanding the needs and dynamics of the internal marketplace to ensure not only that the messages are delivered but in a way that maximises the chances of the benefits being realised.
It takes real effort to change customers' or consumers' behaviour. Yet that same type of consumer probably works in your organisation, and when you are restructuring or introducing new working practices, the success of your project depends on changing their behaviour and that of their colleagues and managers.
Let staff own the brand. They must be involved in establishing what the brand means today and what it is going to mean and in turn the values.
6. Set measurable goals.
How will companies be able to evaluate whether their internal staff branding campaign has worked?
Companies must have a clear sense of how many of true brand ambassadors they hope to cultivate, which key performance indicators they hope to achieve and the level of customer satisfaction or sales increase which is expected.
It's also key to set a realistic timeframe against specific targets along the way for your internal branding to filter through and take lasting effect for all employees.
7. Incentivise and reward performance.
As I work in the business of performance improvement, you would hardly expect me to say anything else!
However I do see the amazing results that strategic incentive programmes can make to a company performance. This applies both to internal motivation, dealer or channel incentives and customer or consumer promotions.
The most effective solutions create push and pull through the products route to market. And don't assume this is all expensive, small tactical initiatives can make a huge impact.
Even something as low cost as £1 per employee can start to make an impact on how people think, a 99p Easter Egg on everyone's desk would be a great start and very low cost for any company.
8. Using events to create internal brand loyalty.
Working in the business of events, we at P&MM are often asked how much an event will cost so that the client can decide if they can afford it.
Maybe the question should be: "What's the cost of brand reinforcement loyalty, motivation, initiative, enterprise and hard work?" Because that's what good events create. Think of the buzz in the office the week after the office Christmas party or the atmosphere at the company conference.
Now imagine if it was like that every week. Events don't have to be expensive, just well planned and thought out. If companies are bold enough to want to change the way their employees feel then what better way than to get them engaged in a programme of monthly staff events.
Bowling, cinema, theatre, football, theme parks, there's a lot that can be done with a little money and a bit of effort. The upside however could be that staff will feel that "this brand cares about me."
9. Achieve brand consistency
Customers need to see consistency of brands from marketing to sales to operations to delivery to finance – a complete experience.
This requires communication understanding and engagement. Understanding why things are important and what they mean to the business and the customer.
10. Make it sustainable.
Getting staff to live your brand is more than a one off campaign. Align key people and processes to sustain the brand values and culture of the company. An ongoing internal branding programme should be a key part of recruitment, learning development, staff training and ongoing communications.
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