Turning Employees into Brand Ambassadors

Some companies know exactly how to engage their employees and turn them into THE most valuable brand ambassadors. Zappos immediately comes to mind.

Some companies are seemingly less “cultish” about it but they are no less successful.

Some companies, for whatever reason, haven’t given this a thought.

Some companies are just starting the journey. Most are probably somewhere in between.

We’re just starting the journey, and that’s OK. In fact, I think it’s great. I’d much rather be starting out than to not have given it a thought. Plus, I get the benefit of studying so many other companies that have blazed a great trail, leaving markers all along the way.

I recently attended a seminar and met some of these great trailblazers. My key takeaways:

  • Have a singularly focused vision
  • Build trust
  • Engaging leaders have the power to positively impact revenue and profit
  • It’s not enough to just change the logo on the letterhead when rolling out a new brand
  • If you provide the right structure, you don’t have to fear the employee voice
  • Know what you’re promising to employees and live up to it
  • Realize your employees are your best and most valued assets

Zappos tells us they are committed to “WOW”ing the customer. This vision is the focal point of their decision-making. To do this, they must have the best employees, the best operations and systems. They put all of this in place, and with confidence, they let things happen. And what happens is remarkable service with a sprinkling of surprises that keep customers coming back for more.

 Eddie Bauer went through the kind of tough time that was constantly making the news for over a year, and yet I never knew. Why? I think it’s because they figured out how to get their employees to ask “How can I help?” rather than asking “What’s going to happen to me?” The leadership was very open. They shared what they knew and…and you’ll love this…what they didn’t  know. That transparency had to be the key to building respect and trust. They also taught employees more than folding, stocking, and ringing up sales. They taught them about the business – EBITDA, covenants, what is like to be a public company – the stuff you never see in your employee manuals.

BBVA Compass has learned how to connect virtual and physical content to bring senior leadership communications to employees in a way that is simple, useable and actionable. Utilizing face-to-face meetings, email, voice mail and video, they position their leadership as thought leaders. This, in turn, works to engage and energize the employee base so that their brand promise is delivered with every customer interaction. Let me just add that I fully intend on “borrowing” their coffee talk podcast concept.

Juniper Networks recently rebranded their corporate identity utilizing a multi-prong global engagement campaign to create excitement, build a sense of inclusion, foster brand evangelism and pay tribute to the brand. NEED MORE

Mayo Clinic has absolutely floored me! Sure I expected Zappos to be embracing social media” but Mayo? In such a private and regulated environment, they have added a personal touch to communications in a “slightly messy” way. The storytelling approach uses real language and real voices. They recognize that employees WANT to be engaged. They are the ones witnessing and creating the spontaneous interactions that have resulted in the best internal and external communications.

Take a look at this video. It started very simply and turned into a media blitz for Mayo positioning them as a place you can feel comfortable in rather than a “dreaded hospital.”

JetBlue’s David Neelman once said you had to treat crew members like they were the most important part of the business. They are! No matter how many beautiful ads you create or how much money you spend building the most beautiful building, it’s the employees that will control that moment of truth. If you give them the tools to act on that moment, they’ll see you through it. They really will. Remember employees want to help. They want to be a part of the solution. They want to grow with you, not against you.

We have a great program at the company I work for (if I do say so myself). It’s easy for all of our employees to execute AND be rewarded for it. See. Say. Smile. Check it out. http://islecorp.com/profile-seesaysmile.aspx We set a very specific and measurable goal. We trained and trained. We reward when there is success, and success is contagious. Everyone gets involved in fun ways.

Last thought: Employees are more engaged when they’re part of solving the puzzle.

Another takeaway from the conference was that we’re doing some things right. Hooray! We’re trying to educate all of our employees and their families about the business of our business by sending our newsletter to their homes rather than putting them out in the break room. We’re sharing some of our more fun moments through YouTube. We’re setting specific goals and tying rewards only to those things each person can impact rather than some nebulous concept.

My next step: Find out which employees are engaged and why and find out which employees are not engaged and why. The rest will come with answers to these questions.

Stay tuned….

Turning Employees into Brand Ambassadors

3 thoughts on “Turning Employees into Brand Ambassadors

  1. Hi Julia,

    Very insightful articles, you truly “Get It”. So many marketers and businesses I am in touch with do not understand that people want to be treated as individuals not as a number. Mayo Gets It. Zappos Gets It. We have become very cold with the advent of new technology. Emails are often general, web sites talk at you instead of with you. Social media actually opens up the philosophy of the conversation. However many still don’t Get It. Another great book is Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae: Is Your Marketing out of Sync? while it may be old in terms of the web the concept of not embracing the technology and the medium in its intended form often creates disaster for many businesses is explained well. It is also a quick read. I look forward to more of your insights. Thanks.

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