CMO.com: Customers Buy Brands That Employees Buy Into
In this CMO.com article, we look at how important your own internal audience is to how effective and consistent you are delivering on the promise externally. Hint: very important.
Richard Branson famously disputes the old adage, “the customer comes first.” His logic is that if companies hire and take care of great people, the employees will take care of the customers.
This mindset is a promise to employees that shapes your promise to customers. It starts here: What employees want more than ever is to feel a sense of purpose. They want to answer the question why work for this company?
Saying the purpose of a company is to make a profit is like saying the purpose of living is to survive. A more substantial mission centers messages and actions that ultimately attract people, whether those people are employees or customers.
We don't need the buzzword-laden mission statements of old. We need simple, powerful people-centered reasons for being, like Virgin’s “Change Business For Good,” Kimpton’s “Make People’s Lives Better Through Heartfelt Human Connections,” and Chobani’s “Make Universal Wellness Happen Sooner.”
The “why” you use on the inside (why work for the company) and the why you use on outside (why purchase from the company) must connect. If you can figure out what gives employees meaning beyond just comp and perks, they will pass on that meaning in the way they deliver products and services.
Employees want to understand their part in the big picture. They make decisions every day, from how products are developed to how service is delivered. For these decisions to be in sync with the mission that convinced employees to join the company in the first place, companies must provide the tools and training to help their people be successful.
Virgin treats customer experience and employee experience as two sides of the same coin, with benefits and policies systematized around change for good. Kimpton has its own university and brand playbooks, where it trains people on how to ensure the guest journey achieves its heartfelt aim. Both brands use purpose to connect their employer brand to customer brand in very direct ways that acknowledge the humanity of both audiences.
Attract True Devotees
Attracting the best people you can find is the highest bar your brand can hurdle.
If strongly dedicated workers are among your ranks, you will have a better chance of attracting customers who also love your brand so much they’re willing to pay more.
Think of how Patagonia manifests, “We’re in business to save our home planet.” To live up to that, you have to make a product that doesn’t wear out, that may have to cost more, where employees get better pay and benefits. That statement either has pervasive effects across the employee and consumer audiences, or it’s an empty slogan.
Remember, in the age of social media and seemingly limitless content, businesses have nowhere to hide from any audience. Accenture research shows nearly two-thirds of consumers are drawn to brands that treat employees well. In addition, three-fourths say they want more transparency in how companies handle issues like sourcing and working conditions.
Figuring out who’s going to help you build and run your company precedes figuring out how to get customers. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t have a product or service to sell them at all. Beyond that, a battle cry led by your employees is bound to become the brand promise you make to the marketplace, down to every detail of what and how you deliver.