Imagine that you and your team have worked hard to craft a well-thought-out branding message. Maybe you’ve come up with a fantastic marketing plan, a great social media plan, or even an amazing and innovative branding and PR campaign. You and your company have spent hours of time and likely a good chunk of money putting together a fantastic plan to get your company in front of more buyers and customers—but you may be missing an obvious and crucial audience : your employees.
Not only can employees make or break your company, but they can make or break your brand in the mind of your consumers, too. Your employees are your biggest asset. They have the power to help your company attract great talent, or they can completely derail all your well-planned branding and marketing work with one negative comment. Empowering your employees as brand ambassadors can be tricky, but if you follow these four steps, you can encourage your employees become your biggest cheerleaders.
Be a Role Model in All That You Do
If you’re a leader in your company, it’s highly likely that your employees keep an eye on your every move around the office. They closely observe and often mimic your communication style and in some cases even the way you dress. Robert Sutton, a Stanford professor and author of New York Times bestseller Good Boss, Bad Boss, tells a story of Linda Hudson, president of General Dynamics, as an example. On the first day of her new job, she wore a new scarf tied in a unique way. Within the next few days, she noticed more and more women wearing scarfs tied in the same way around the office, demonstrating that those reporting to her were mirroring her style. Those who report to you will follow your lead It’s a natural human instinct to imitate those who are in power in order to succeed.
If you are communicating poorly with your employees, they are likely to communicate poorly themselves which could cause tremendous damage to your brand. The way you interact with those directly around you will trickle down through the company. If you hold yourself to high standards of management, those standards will impact the company as a whole as a simple result of human nature.
Some leaders fear that being transparent in their business dealings is detrimental to their bottom line. In many cases it’s exactly the opposite. A Harris Poll in 2015 found that if you want to inspire loyalty and build goodwill amongst employees, you should be transparent in nearly all that you do. Employees watch how you deal with adversity and often deeply appreciate honest answers to tough questions. If you handle difficult situations with grace, humility, and honesty, your employees are likely to raise their standards to treat others the same way. You’ll also inspire a deep trust that employees will take outside of the company. That trust will show up in their customer interactions, helping boost your brand naturally. A happy employee is more likely to be happy at home, too.
Embrace Social Media
It’s best to have some social media parameters in place that make clear company goals and how to handle potentially vociferous and negative clients and customers.
Giving employees the power to talk about their experiences at the company and with your product(s) can turn employees into your biggest allies as you build your reputation. As Fast Company points out, content shared by employees gets almost eight times more engagement than content shared by brand channels. That content is also shared as much as 25 times more frequently than anything you post on your corporate page. This translates to more traffic and more interest, not only from potential customers but from potential employees as well.
Practice Active Listening
Don’t discount negative feedback from employees as simple noise. As a company leader, you need to listen to and take in what employees say about the company and about management in order to continue to improve and iterate around your brand. If you practice active listening where you mirror back what you think your employees are saying, you help create an environment that can foster trust and build engagement. If you know what the problems are and actively work to improve those situations, it’s much more likely that your employees will become natural advocates for your company and your brand.
By following these four steps, you can turn your employees into your biggest fans and your biggest brand ambassadors and advocates. In the long run, taking these steps can help boost your bottom line and ensure that your company remains at the top of customers’ minds as you grow and build your brand.
Angela "Angie" Koch is CEO of U.S. Money Reserve, one of the largest private distributors of U.S. government issued gold, silver and platinum coins. Angie oversees every aspect of operation, while setting culture and pace for the entire organization. With a proven background in business planning, strategy, mergers, acquisitions, and operations, Angie has an in-depth understanding of how to run a successful business and is credited with creating the analytic and KPI structure at U.S. Money Reserve. Believing strongly that the people make the business, Angie has positioned U.S. Money Reserve to be a trusted precious metal leader that always puts their customers and employees first.