Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers. Know the profound shift from traditional outbound communications designed to grab our attention (think: sledgehammer) to new inbound marketing activities that engage and bring visitors in (think: magnet).
- What is more important, culture or strategy? The answer is culture. As the story goes, there was a sign over the Ford war room in Detroit that read, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." The point is no matter how great your strategy is, if you don't get the culture right, you will not win. What does culture mean in modern business? How can you stay relevant in the face of social media? What are your customers looking for in a brand? And how can you learn to meet or exceed new expectations? Today, the most successful brands create a dynamic, deeply rooted, and authentic brand identity.
An identity embodied not through slogans, but through a much more trusted channel, their social employees. That's right. In the Social Age, marketing is everyone's job. And with responsibility now spread throughout entire organizations, culture has become the most important element in ensuring that your brand message is clear, accessible, and consistent. So how do you build a sustainable culture? First, master the why.
No matter how good your corporate strategy might look on paper, if your employees do not buy into your mission, vision, and values, the strategy will fail. Your vision, mission, and values are the why of your organization, and without them, your social marketing efforts will appear inconsistent, disjointed, and inauthentic. The clearer your brand persona, the better equipped your employees will be to represent you, and act confidently as informed brand ambassadors.
Next, publicly commit to culture building. When Starbucks offered to pay college tuition for employees, when PricewaterhouseCoopers rolled out flexible employee hours, and when Netflix committed to unlimited paternity and maternity leave, you can bet they wanted the world to know what they were doing to create a positive environment for their employees. Sure, it's good publicity, but more than that, it's a way to hold your brand accountable, to put your money where your mouth is, and a funny thing happens when you start walking the talk.
You attract like-minded individuals, not only in the form of customers, but who you work with. This brings us to our next point. Use culture to recruit or contract. The top minds in business will all tell you that culture begins with hiring the right people for the job. This is important when hiring employees, but doubly so, when hiring contractors. We're living in a freelance economy. Today, most companies use third-party vendors for at least some of their needs.
This comes with some risk. After all, how do you trust someone else with your brand when they're not accountable for it. By committing to a developed, robust culture, not only will your company be better suited to identify and select compatible contractors, it will also be better at communicating cultural values to those contractors in reaping the benefits of more effective collaboration in the process. Finally, look to the future.
Culture is essential to attracting the best and brightest of the growing millennial workforce, who will soon make up the majority of all workers, and swell to a staggering 75% by 2030. A 2015 Deloitte study found that millennials place equal value on things like organizational culture and social responsibility as they do on products and profits. If your organization is found lacking in these areas, it will struggle trying to attract and retain top talent, contributing to a negative feedback loop of declining returns, that will become increasingly tough to break.
Put all this together and it's clear that culture doesn't simply precede strategy. Culture is strategy. Put people first and they will show you the way forward.
As empowered brand ambassadors, social employees hold the power to transform how companies communicate both internally and externally to reach customers. This is a win/win for both company and employee—boosting brand value for the company through authentic communication and increasing exposure and career opportunities for employees. Social employees build their own personal brands and establish themselves as leaders in their field. Here Mark and Cheryl outline the roles empowered social employees can play to transform culture and drive business results, including a five-step pilot social employee plan (called the 5 Ds) designed to help companies to increase internal and external engagement, leads, reputation, and sales. This means a more trusted brand that attracts and retains high-value employees—and that delivers more effective marketing communications in the digital marketplace. This course moves from explaining why it makes sense to create engaged brand ambassadors to how to implement and measure results.
- Shifting from outbound to inbound marketing
- Creating the social employee
- Encouraging social executives and leaders
- Storytelling using social media
- Creating a social employee pilot plan