As a marketeer, I know that all marketing departments are looking for new ways to ‘big up’ their brand, reach new audiences and increase consumer trust. It’s easier said than done though. In an increasingly noisy world managing to get your message across is hard enough – having it believed is even harder.
Having a strong brand is important. It drives product value, gives leverage to create strategic partnerships and attracts top talent to your employee pool. But, when consumer trust is hard to build where should you turn to get the competitive advantage?
The answer? Your highly motivated staff!
Make them your Brand Ambassadors.
It has been long acknowledged that Word of Mouth (WOM) and personal reviews hold much more sway with consumers than traditional marketing messages. So, it should come as no surprise that ‘rank-and-file’ employees have more credibility with customers than executives and PR teams.
62% of respondents found a company’s social media more convincing than their advertising.
But you can’t just become a puppet master and tell employees to be brand ambassadors. Their voice needs to be authentic for it to have the impact that you want it to. Corporate statements will be quickly uncovered and discounted by your target audience, doing more harm than good.
So how can you nurture employees into becoming cheerleaders for your brand, employment and product?
Commit time and money to embed the right brand values throughout every level of your company. For a consistent brand ethos to be represented by your employees you will need real buy-in from all of your staff.
Recognize and address any barriers that may curtail company cheerleading such as employee confidence on social media.
Invest in the physical and mental well-being of your team. Pay attention to perks, events, and socials and encourage staff to use a set hashtag for discussing these. This will start a regular flow of content about your brand, your people and your workplace.
Put your staff in the picture. Update your team on a regular basis on the challenges and successes you encounter as and when they occur.
Let your staff know the fine details of your company’s direction, goals, developments and processes. Engage employees with your short, medium and long-term goals as this will increase their commitment to the development of the company. If possible, highlight the impact of each person’s work on achieving these goals to foster an environment of individual ownership and responsibility to the greater picture of your brand.
Information shouldn’t be a one-way street. If you have engaged, intelligent and aspirational employees, use them! Their ideas, solutions to issues and opinions on your company could be the missing link to your next breakthrough.
Set up regular feedback sessions and questionnaires (anonymous and named) to keep up to date with the current temperature of your workforce.
Plus, it doesn’t all have to be about work. Use these as a chance to organize staff outings, plan office developments and get feedback on work benefits and reward structures.
An employee that feels valued and respected will have a lot of positive energy to share with your target audience.
Allow your staff to be themselves. Their unique voice will give authentic breadth and depth to the messages being shared and the people they will reach.
If your team understand the company goals and target audiences, they will be able to correctly frame their comments to suit the audience you want. Give your staff credit! They know what the product is – they are part of it.
Encourage your employees to be on social media as part of their day at the office. Their authentic voice online, interacting with customers, answering queries and sharing their experience as part of your team will have a huge positive impact on how trustworthy your audience sees your communications.
The stats just don’t lie. Reports including the Edelman Trust Barometer and Nielsen Report tell us time and time again that consumers are up to 77% more likely to buy a product or brand when they hear positive things about it from someone they believe is trustworthy.
It may be hard to relinquish some of the control over brand messaging after working hard to carve a set image of the product or service you supply. Yet, with some guidance and support for those fired up and willing to spread the good word for you, letting go (just a little!) could be the best thing to do to earn your customers' trust.