The Most Important People That You Probably Forgot to Market To

jmsb@johnsanfilippo.com www.johnsanfilippo.com Subscribe: www.tinyurl.com/jmsbblog

“Our employees are our most valuable asset.” Or how about “We treat our customers like guests and our employees like people”? And there’s “We know we can’t deliver great service with unhappy employees.”

Every company says crap like this. Even the worst companies on the planet say crap like this. I’m sure your company does, too.

Well, riddle me this. If your employees are so damned important, why don’t you market to them? Your customers are important and you market to them. Prospects are pretty important and you market to them, too. There are members of the press, business partners – the list goes on and on.

Every single person that can influence your business gets some marketing love, except the allegedly most important group of all. Doesn’t make sense, does, it?

I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t marketing to employees basically marketing to yourself? In other words, isn’t it kind of a dumb idea? Let me give you an example.

Back around 2002, when I was at Symitar the second time, we got wind that our reputation for providing magnificent, mind-blowing, amazing, unbelievable client service was slipping. The word on the street was that Symitar service just wasn’t what it used to be.

To me, that meant employees just weren’t as enthusiastic about working for Symitar as they used to be. And that struck me as a marketing problem. (Admittedly, all problems strike me as marketing problems, but this one really was.) Thus, my challenge was to essentially market Symitar to Symitar.

How did I pull that off? My team and I put together a three part program called Be the One. The three components were:

  • Posters. We created a series of inspirational posters, all based on the Be the One theme. Each poster had that headline, a photo of someone taking ownership of a situation, and some copy that talked more about taking ownership and why it’s important. While I was at Symitar this last time, I had a couple of them on display in my office. The message, IMHO, withstood the test of time.

  • Rewards. To reward good service, we created the SymiStar, a golden star pin with a Symitar logo in the middle. Each time a manager received an email, letter or phone call commending a particular employee, that employee received a SymiStar. It became a competition to see who could collect the most SymiStars. I believe some of the old-timers at Symitar still have their SymiStars on display.

  • Community Service. We wanted Symitar to be more than just a job. We wanted it to mean something bigger. So we created SCORE (Symitar’s Community Outreach Rewards Everyone), a Symitar-sanctioned committee organized for the sole purpose of completing community service projects. I’m proud to report that SCORE still operates in the San Diego office today.

Well, to make a long story short, the program was a success. A year later, our service woes were just a fading memory.

All this took place before social media was even a glimmer in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye. Today it’s even more important to market to your employees because, for better or worse, they’re out there on the Internet representing you.

They’re on LinkedIn, and maybe even Facebook, with you listed as their employer. When they have a bad day at work, the whole world knows. And they may be posting things about you anonymously on Glassdoor. Too many negative comments there can scare off prospective employees before you even have them in for an interview. Market effectively to your employees and you won’t have to worry about things like these.

Employees really are your most valuable asset. I didn’t mean to imply that they aren’t. So approach your employees with the same marketing sense that you apply to your customers and prospects. Trust me, it’s the smart thing to do.

That is all.

#internalmarketing #employeecommunications #smartmanagement

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© 2015 by John F. San Filippo

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