Guest post by Liz Greene.
If you were asked to rattle off your top marketing strategies, would employee advocacy make the list? Your employees are one of the most valuable marketing assets available, and if you’re not putting them to use as part of an overall marketing strategy, you’re missing out on an incredible opportunity to increase revenue.
Hinge Research Institute and Social Media Today recently surveyed companies with employee advocacy programs, and the results speak for themselves:
- 1% saw increased brand visibility
- 65% saw improved brand recognition
- 7% had better brand loyalty
Why? It’s simple.
Trust is essential for business, and clients are far more likely to trust the word of employees than statements made by CEOs. Clients who have meaningful interactions with employees — both online and off — form an emotional connection and a deeper level of trust. The effect of these interactions on the customer experience can lead to higher conversions, loyalty, and more word-of-mouth recommendations.
Building a core group of employees advocates may seem overwhelming, but it can be broken down into a small number of easily managed steps.
It’s likely you already know who your engaged employees are, but if you don’t, look for the following behaviors:
- Belief in your company’s values, mission, and goals
- Desire to make things better for their teams and the company as a whole
- Courteous and respectful to colleagues
- Willingness to help
- Stays up to date with news and happenings within the industry
Talk to managers and other executives to suss out which employees exhibit these qualities. If you still have trouble identifying engaged employees, consider sending out an engagement survey.
Putting your brand in the hands of employees can be nerve-wracking — after all, your brand what differentiates your business in the marketplace. To minimize the risk of losing control of your company’s brand image, it’s imperative you educate your employees on exactly what your brand is. You can do this by defining your organization’s brand for employees as often as possible.
Make sure fundamental messages about your organization’s brand and its positioning are included in all internal communications (e.g. employee newsletters, speeches, town hall meetings). Ensure brand resources are readily available to employees — such as information on corporate identity standards, brand guidelines, and the company’s mission.
Once your employees understand the organization’s brand, you’ll need to provide them with varied ways to be brand advocates.
If they’re working through social media, offer them valuable content — anything from a stat they can retweet to content they can cite to help position themselves as industry leaders when engaging prospective clients.
Encourage your more outgoing employees to volunteer in the community and attend events that boost exposure for your business. You can host a networking event and invite local businesses, send a couple of employees with your marketing team to a convention, or even have star employees and managers do guest lectures at universities.
Passive advocacy can be generated by printing the company logo on tangible items such as t-shirts, water bottles, backpacks, etc. and handing them out to employees. Any time an employee wears a t-shirt in public or uses their water bottle while exercising, they’ll be advocating on behalf of your brand.
No matter what your goal for employee advocacy is, it’s important to recognize the employees who are bringing the brand to life. Not only does this encourages them to keep up the good work, it also inspires other employees to get involved. You can recognize your advocates during meetings, in speeches, emails, or the company newsletter. If you’re feeling especially giving, you can present them with an award or gift to truly show how much you appreciate their efforts.
Engaged and motivated employees who understand your brand generate happy clients. By helping employees to feel both equipped and motivated to support the your brand, you can create active advocates who live and breathe the brand promise — and your bottom line will never look better.
Liz Greene is a writer, marketing professional, and history geek from the beautiful City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene or catch her latest misadventures on her blog, Instant Lo.