WASHINGTON – Your employees are talking. Do you know what they are saying?
As a small business owner, you can and should be aware of and at least partially in control of any word-of-mouth “advertising” regarding your company. We’re not talking big brother here, but rather giving employees the tools to understand your company’s mission and your message/brand.
Traditional advertising can be expensive. While word-of-mouth is usually considered free advertising, it is important to make an internal investment that will lead to a common, and positive message throughout the company. A few investment suggestions:
- A company newsletter promoting company culture, employee recognitions and the company brand. (This can be distributed on paper or via e-mail; just be sure to allow work time to read it.)
- A company intranet; an expansion of the newsletter idea.
- Sharing the company’s new marketing/advertising pieces with employees before they go public. Not only will employees feel more connected and involved, they will be able to share the same message you are paying to put in front of the public.
- Conduct regular meetings to update employees on the advancement of the company, and their role in that advancement.
- Appoint a Brand Champion (other than yourself) that will encourage others to live up to, and promote the brand.
Whichever investment(s) you choose to undertake, you must be sincere and include your employees at every step. Simply stating your mission statement and branding will not suffice. Gone are the days of lifetime, unconditional employee loyalty. Your staff must be told why you are making this investment, and reassured that their feedback about the company and brand is welcome.
Keep in mind that traditional advertising is not always the best way to reach customers … it might just be through the mouths of your employees.
Make it Your Mission…Make it Steve’s Mission
Mission statements aren’t written for customers; they’re written to continually guide and inspire the company and its people. Use your company’s mission statement properly. Post it around your office to remind your employees why you built the company and why they come to work each day.
While only a few of your employees may have customer-facing jobs, they all have lives outside of work where they’ll inevitably talk about what your company does and how you treat your employees. An employee who doesn’t understand the company and its mission cannot successfully promote your business.
This internal brand management shouldn’t stop with the mission statement. Share market or customer research with all employees. When people have something to connect to, they more often work harder and believe in what they do.
So show Steve in manufacturing the kind of people — the kind of families — that depend on your product. Give Steve a reason to be proud of what he does, to put a little more heart and care into his job. Give Steve a reason to tell others about the good work your company is doing. Give Steve a mission.
SOURCE: National Federation of Independent Business